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2009 Award Winners Announced at Annual Nittany Lion Cross Country Banquet

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Jan. 20, 2010

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.: January 20, 2010 - In celebration of its recent accomplishments, the 2009 Nittany Lion cross country team hosted its annual awards banquet last Sunday in the Bryce Jordan Center. The banquet recognized the achievements of the 2009 campaign, which included a Big Ten Championship victory and a 14th-place finish at the NCAA Championships on the women's side. Receiving "Most Valuable Athlete" citations were senior Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio), and sophomore Vince McNally (Smoketown, Pa.), who led the Nittany Lion women's and men's squad, respectively, throughout the season.

Franek led her team to the program's first Big Ten Cross Country Championship, winning the individual conference title and claiming Big Ten Athlete of the Year honors. The senior would go to finish 26th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in her fourth-straight appearance at the national meet, and earning her second All-America finish in cross country. McNally posted his second-straight appearance at the NCAA Championships, where he finished 134th overall. McNally also claimed his second-consecutive all-region finish at the Mid-Atlantic Regional, and earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors thanks to his 11th-place effort at the conference meet.

Also earning recognition were "Freshman of the Year" awardees Nicole Lord (Media, Pa.) and Danny Pawola (Naperville, Ill.). Lord, who was running in her first-ever competitive cross country season, stepped right into the Lion lineup placing ninth overall at the Big Ten Championships. Lord's finish warranted Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, making her only the second Nittany Lion women in program history to win the award in cross country. The freshman also claimed a 14th-place, and all-region finish at the Mid-Atlantic Regional, and would go on to take 94th overall at the NCAA Championships. Pawola, a Footlocker Cross Country finalist as a high school senior, played a major role in the Lion line up this fall, running in the Penn State top five all season. Pawola ran as the Lions' number one at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, finishing 11th in a talented field.

The "Most Inspirational" awards were given to freshman Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio) and sophomore Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.), who both provided an inspired finishing kick down the homestretch at the Big Ten Championships, helping the Nittany Lions to a narrow victory in the team standings. The duo finished 19th, and 23rd, respectively.

Meanwhile, this season's "Coaches' Award," which is recognizes athletes for their outstanding accomplishments throughout their career, was given to senior Cheryl Spring (The Woodlands, Texas). Spring completed an outstanding four-year career, in which she ran consistently as a member of the Lion scoring back throughout her four years, and earned all-region honors on three of four occasions.

Nittany Lion "Team" Award Winners -
Most Valuable - Bridget Franek, Vince McNally
Freshman of the Year - Nicole Lord, Danny Pawola
Captain's Award - Bridget Franek, Cheryl Spring, Kyle Dawson
Coaches' Award - Cheryl Spring
Most Improved - Caitlin Lane, Samuel Borchers
Most Inspirational - Kara Millhouse, Brooklyne Ridder




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