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Jan. 15, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion cross country teams were honored for their accomplishments during the 2012 campaign, Sunday at the annual "Team Recognition Ceremony" at Ashenfelter III Indoor Track. Headlining the list of award winners were junior Victoria Perri (Philadelphia, Pa.), and senior Sam Masters (Columbia, Mo.), who each garnered "Most Valuable Athlete" honors for their respective squads.
The women's squad captured a 14th-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships - the program's third top 15 finish in the last four years - led by a 47th-place standing from Perri. Thanks to her efforts, Perri is one of just five Nittany Lion women to garner at top 50 finish since the NCAA field expanded to 31 teams in 1998. Also turning in top 100 finishes were junior Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio), and senior Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio), who placed 71st and 80th, respectively, to help lead the Lions in another record-breaking campaign.
Masters - a graduate student in his first year with the Nittany Lions - qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships as an individual, via a 12th-place and All-Region effort at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships.
Simko, who holds the Penn State record in the outdoor 800 meters at 2:03.09, was named "Most Improved Athlete" on the women's squad, thanks to a fifth-place and First Team All-Conference finish at the Big Ten Championships - over 70 places better than her 2011 finish. Ridder was also a recipient of one of the women's team awards, receiving "Most Inspirational Athlete," for her role as one of the Nittany Lions' senior leaders.
Nick Scarpello (Jamison, Pa.) garnered "Most Improved" honors on the men's side, thanks to impressive finishes throughout the 2012 campaign. Scarpello was the Nittany Lions' top finisher at the elite Adidas Wisconsin Invitational, and turned in a 28th-place finish at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional - just off all-region status. Senior Tyler Jones (Chalfont, Pa.) was the "Most Inspirational" winner for the men's team, having joined the team late in the fall season, and ending his season campaign with a 25th-place and all-region effort at the Mid-Atlantic Regional.
"Freshman of the Year" honors went to both Robby Creese (Mt. Airy, Md.), and Victoria Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.), who were each impact athletes for the Lions this fall. Creese got the season started with a bang, winning the Dolan Duals at Lock Haven, en route to Big Ten Athlete of the Week honors. Creese would go on to place 24th at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships, as Nittany Lions' top finisher on the day. Gerlach was a member of the Nittany Lion top seven for much of the fall campaign, finishing as Penn State's number five runner at the Adidas Wisconsin Invitational. Gerlach's finishing time of 20:52 at the event was her best 6K effort of the season.
Also receiving awards for their service as 2012 "Team Captains" were seniors Tom Luff (Emmaus, Pa.) and Tyler Corkedale (West Windsor, N.J.) on the men's side, as well as women's captains Ridder, Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.), and Lindsey Graybill (Macungie, Pa.).
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