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Nov. 23, 2009
TERRE HAUTE, Ind.: November 23, 2009 – The Nittany Lion women’s cross country team capped off an already outstanding season on Monday, posting a 14th-place effort in the team standings – the best effort by a Penn State squad since the 1996 season - at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, at LaVern Gibson Championship Course. Senior Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio), who was in her fourth appearance at the NCAA cross country meet, scored her seventh-career All-America finish to lead the effort, placing 26th overall with a finishing time of 20 minutes, 35 seconds over the 6,000-meter course. Sophomore Vince McNally (Smoketown, Pa.) represented the Nittany Lion men’s squad, finishing 134th for the men’s 10,000-meters.
Franek’s finish was her second-career All-America performance in cross country and the ninth All-America citation by a Penn State woman in the NCAA era.
“Our women’s team has just been outstanding throughout the entire season,” said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. “Their goal had been to get to nationals, and I’m very proud of what they achieved today. They competed with heart, tenacity, and a lot of moxie, and with a group of so many underclassman, they certainly have an exciting future ahead of them.
Sophomore Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) was outstanding as the Lions’ number two, moving well throughout the second half of the race to finish 86th overall, and 69th among team competitors. Lane crossed the finish line in 21:11. Despite a tumble at around 800-meters into the race, freshman Nicole Lord (Media, Pa.) got back to her feet, caught the pack, and finished as the Lions’ third runner, recording a top 100 effort with a 94th-place finish – 77th in the team standings – in 21:16.
Senior Cheryl Spring (The Woodlands, Texas) capped an outstanding Nittany Lion cross country career finishing in 21:23 for 111th overall, 90th in the team race. Sophomore Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) ran strong as the Lions’ fifth running, finishing the course in 21:35 to place 142nd overall and 115th in team scoring. Freshman Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio) placed 200th overall as the Lions’ sixth runner, clocking 22:05, while fellow rookie Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.) turned in a 206th-place effort to round out the Lion lineup.
“I’m so proud of our group of seniors on this team,” continued Sullivan. “Bridget Franek was able to earn her second All-America finish in cross country today. Making the national meet all four years, and running as our number one runner for her entire career is an outstanding accomplishment.”
Mid-Atlantic Regional foe Villanova ran away with the team title, scoring 86 points with Florida State in second with 133. Defending champion Washington turned in a third-place effort with 188, followed by Texas Tech in fourth (191 points) and Princeton in fifth (251 points). The Nittany Lions just missed knocking off Big Ten rivals Minnesota and Illinois, as the Gophers placed 10th overall with 310, and the Illini took 12th with 365. Penn State scored 375 points ahead of Virginia (391), Stanford (408), Iowa State (446), and Syracuse (450), BYU (453) and Colorado (458), which rounded out the top 20.
McNally posted a solid effort in his second-straight appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, finishing the race in 31:14.
“Vince ran a tough race and I’m very excited that he represented us as an individual,” said Sullivan. “Now that he’s got two NCAA experiences under his belt, he will continue to improve on the national level.”
Liberty’s Sam Chelenga won the competition in 28:41, while Oklahoma State captured the team title with a total score of 127 points.