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Oct. 28, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Junior Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio) placed fifth overall - capturing First Team All-Conference status - to lead the No. 13 Nittany Lion women's cross country team to an impressive third-place finish, Sunday at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships at Michigan State University. Redshirt-freshman Robby Creese(Mount Airy, Md.) was the top finishing Nittany Lion on the men's side, taking 23rd overall to help the Blue and White to a sixth-place showing in the team standings.
No. 7 Michigan took top honors in the women's standings, scoring 55 points to better instate rival and No. 15 Michigan State with 75 points. The Nittany Lions totaled 96 points for third. Defending NCAA champion Wisconsin dominated the men's race with a 33-point total, ahead of Michigan with 65.
Remaining with the lead pack when the race started to separate, Simko closed well to finish fifth overall, covering the 6,000-meter course in 20:27. The junior, who has been Penn State's top finisher in the last three competitions, also showed impressive improvement from a year ago, shaving over 70 places off her 2011 finish. The effort was also good for the first all-conference citation of her Big Ten career.
Also running well up front was junior Victoria Perri (Philadelphia, Pa.), who finished up in 20:46 for 15th overall - just one spot shy of a spot on the all-conference team. Next up was senior Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio), who ended her Big Ten cross country career on a high note, placing 17th overall with a finishing time of 20:52.
Classmate Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.) would turn in a top 30 finish in her final conference cross country appearance, running 21:02 to take 28th individually. On Bower's heels was sophomore Leigha Anderson (Carlisle, Pa.), who took home a 31st-place standing as the Lions' fifth and final scorer, finishing in 21:05.
Junior Emily Giannotti (Coudersport, Pa.) and sophomore Katie Rodden (Ardmore, Pa.) also turned in outstanding finishes at the Lions' sixth and seventh runners, with Giannotti placing 32nd in 21:06, and Rodden - who improved over 40 places from a year ago - crossing in 21:11 for 34th.
Michigan State's Sara Kroll took the individual title, finishing in 20:12 to better Iowa's Mareike Schrulle, who finished second in 20:16.
The men's squad also reaped the benefits of a tight pack, as all five Nittany Lion scorers finished with a 12 second spread, between their first and fifth runners. In fact, the pack was the tightest of the race, as Indiana had the next closest one-through-five at 34 seconds.
Creese impressed in his first-career Big Ten cross country appearance, moving well through the race and coming home strong to finish 24th in 24:30 over the 8,000-meter course. Redshirt-sophomore Matt Fischer (Kennett Square, Pa.) was next in line, finishing 34th overall in 24:35, followed closely by senior Tyler Jones (Chalfont, Pa.), who finished 35th in 24:36. Fischer was another Nittany Lion to make an impressive jump from a year ago, bettering his 2011 finish by over 30 places.
Junior Nick Scarpello (Jamison, Pa.) ran as the Nittany Lion number four, bringing home a 37th-place standing with a finishing time of 24:39. Senior Sam Masters (Columbia, Mo.) rounded out the Nittany Lion scorer, placing 39th in 24:42.
Sophomore Chris Campbell (Newtown, Pa.) also scored a top 50 finish on the afternoon, placing 49th overall in 24:54. Senior Tyler Corkedale was Penn State's number seven in scoring, finishing 53rd in 24:57.
The Nittany Lions will be back in action next weekend, hosting the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships on November 9, at the Blue-White Golf Courses.