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Cross Country Recaps Season at Annual Awards Banquet

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Caitlin Lane

Jan. 12, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.: January 11, 2012 - Seniors Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.), and Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) each took home "Most Valuable Athlete" honors, highlighting a season of outstanding achievements, which were recognized at the annual Penn State Cross Country Recognition Banquet, held at Ashenfelter III Indoor Track last Sunday. Lane and Dawson were just two of the many athletes recognized for a sensational fall campaign, including a 13th-place finish by the Nittany Lion women's squad at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.

"The banquet was a great time to recognize our outstanding accomplishments, and award winners," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. "I'm extremely proud of our senior class, as they have had a major impact on this program throughout their entire careers at Penn State. Seeing seniors McNally, Dawson, Lane, and Millhouse compete in three or four NCAA Championships throughout their careers really shows the strength and resolve of a program committed to success."

Lane's record-setting season was capped by a 16th-place and All-America finish at the NCAA Championships, which stands as the second-best NCAA finish by a Nittany Lion in women's program history. During the course of the season, the Greenwich, N.Y., native, took claimed a victory at the Big Ten Championships, becoming the third Penn State athlete to take top honors at the conference meet, and the second in the last three years. For her efforts, Lane was also named "Big Ten Athlete of the Year."

Dawson finished as the number-one runner on the men's side during every race of the 2011 campaign, eventually making his third-career appearance at the NCAA Championships. The senior also picked up an All-Big Ten certificate via a 12th-place effort at the conference meet. Dawson was also garnered All-NCAA Region status at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional, along with teammates Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.) and Owen Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.).



McNally and Dawson would both take home the hardware individually, as McNally garnered "Most Inspirational" status, and Dawson was named "Most Improved" on the men's team. McNally, who was also an All-Big Ten finisher in 2011, certainly made a name for himself in the national cross country ranks over his four-year career, having qualified for four-straight NCAA Championships, becoming just the 13th man in program history to make a quartet of appearances at the national meet. Dawson, who is an All-American at 800-meters on the track, was named "Most Improved" after improving his regional finish by over 20 spots from 2010 to 2011, showing outstanding merit over the grueling 10,000-meter championship distance.

Lane and sophomore Emily Giannotti (Coudersport, Pa.) both received "Most Improved" mention on the women's side, as both athletes enjoyed marked improvement in every race throughout the season. Having finished 130th at the NCAA Championships in 2010, Lane bettered herself all the way to 16th in 2011, while also improving her finishing time over 6,000-meters by over 90 seconds. Giannotti had a break-out race at the Big Ten Championships, placing 14th overall for All-Big Ten honors, besting her 2010 conference effort by more than 30 spots.

Senior Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.), who was a 2011 team captain, also took home the "Most Inspirational" award for the women's team, having fought through illness to take earn a career-best finish at the Big Ten Championships, and garner her first-career All-Big Ten citation in cross country. Millhouse would go on to post an All-Region finish at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, and make her third-straight appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.

Other awards winners included juniors Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.), and Tyler Corkedale (West Windsor, N.J.), were both named recipients of the "Coaches' Award," which is given annually to athletes with outstanding contributions to the program. Meanwhile, freshman Abbie Benson (Elma, N.Y.) and Matt Fischer (Kennett Square, Pa.) were touted "Freshman of the Year" for their respective teams, and Lane, Millhouse, Kyle Dawson and Chris Cipro (Harmony, Pa.) each received the "Captains' Award" for their service as team captains during the 2011 season.

"With the track and field season already underway, it is great to reflect on the fall accomplishments that will give us a lot of momentum for the year," concluded Sullivan.

The Nittany Lions will continue to compete throughout the indoor track and field season, including the Nittany Lion Challenge, set for this Saturday at the Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.

Penn State Cross Country "Team Awards"

Most Valuable Athlete -
Women: Caitlin Lane
Men: Kyle Dawson

Captain's Awards -
Women: Caitlin Lane, Kara Millhouse
Men: Chris Cipro, Kyle Dawson

Most Inspirational -
Women: Kara Millhouse
Men: Vince McNally

Most Improved -
Women: Caitlin Lane, Emily Giannotti
Men: Owen Dawson

Freshman of the Year -
Women: Abbie Benson
Men: Matt Fischer

Coaches' Awards -
Women: Natalie Bower
Men: Tyler Corkedale


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