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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Behind a pair of top-15 finishes, the Penn State men's cross country team finished third at the 2014 Big Ten Cross Country Championships Sunday at the Ashton Cross Country Course in Iowa City, Iowa. The Nittany Lions edged No. 20 Indiana by a score of 92-95.
Fifth-year senior Matt Fischer (Kennett Square, Pa.) paced the Nittany Lion contingent as he completed the 8,000-meter course in 23 minutes, 52.8 seconds to finish eighth. Joining Fischer in the top-15 was Glen Burkhardt (Kennett Square, Pa.). Burkhardt finished 11th with his time of 23:55.8. Both Fischer and Burkhardt garnered Second Team All-Big Ten honors for their efforts.
At the 3,000-meter split, Fischer was 11th (9:01.33) and Burkhardt was 13th (9:01.42).
“There is always some room for improvement, but I think we are pretty pumped about how this race went,” Fischer said. “If you look at last year [and how we finished ninth at this meet], I think our second guy was 39th and our fifth man today was 29th, it just shows how much progress this team has made.”
Less than fifteen seconds after Burkhardt crossed the finish line, Wade Endress (Altoona, Pa.) posted a 19th-place finish with his time of 24:09.5. Six spots later, true freshman Anthony Russell (West Chester, Pa.) clocked in at 24:15.3 to place 25th.
Robby Creese rounded out the scoring for the Nittany Lions as he finished 29th (24:20.3).
“I would say this first time in my four years that we’ve felt that all five guys that scored put together one of their best races they could have hoped for on that day,” Fischer said.
Also competing for Penn State at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships were Ean DiSilvio (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio), Bobby Hill (Wellsboro, Pa.) and Austin Pondel (Columbus, Pa.).
Disilvio finished 49th (24:45.5), Kidder claimed 78th (25:26.5), Hill placed 88th (25:43.0) and Pondel took 93rd (26:00.3).
“It was a fantastic day for the men, Matt and Glen have been leading us all year long and it was great to see them to do so today and earn Second Team All-Big Ten honors for their finishes,” head coach/director of cross country and track & field John Gondak said. “The best part of the day was our 3-4-5 guys really closed the gap on our top-two and to have five guys finish in the top-30 at the Big Ten meet is an outstanding team effort.”
As a team, the Nittany Lions finished third with their score of 92 points. Their third-place finish ties the highest finish in school history at the Big Ten meet and it is the first time since 2000 that Penn State tallied a third-place finish.
No. 6 Wisconsin won the meet with their score of 47 points, followed by a second-place finish by No. 14 Michigan (77 points). Individually, Malachy Schrobilgen claimed the Big Ten title with his time of 23:35.0.
With their third-place finish, Penn State, currently receiving votes in the latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Poll, knocked off No. 20 Indiana, No. 22 Michigan State and (RV) Minnesota.
The Nittany Lions do not compete this upcoming weekend as they prepare for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional (Nov. 14). Penn State is hosting the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional at the Blue-White Golf Course in University Park, Pa. The women's 6k is set for noon and the men's 10k is slated for a 1 p.m. start.
"It is a great feeling knowing that we are able to compete at home to earn an opportunity to advance to the NCAA Championships," Gondak said. "Our kids have always run well on our home course and we are looking forward to next Friday."
“It is a nice feeling [hosting the Mid-Atlantic Regional],” Fischer said. “Everybody on our team likes our course and we know how to race it and that is a big advantage for us.”
The Big Ten Network will air coverage of the B1G championships on tape delay at 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 12.
For more on Nittany Lion cross country, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC
1. No. 6 Wisconsin 47
2. No. 14 Michigan 77
3. (RV) Penn State 92
4. No. 20 Indiana 95
5. No. 22 Michigan State 117
6. Illinois 159
7. (RV) Minnesota 160
8. Iowa 191
9. Purdue 253
10. Ohio State 277
11. Nebraska 332
12. Rutgers 397