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Track and Field Adds 29 to 2011-12 Roster

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Director and Head Coach of Penn State Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan and Nittany Lion coaching staff have announced the addition of 29 athletes on the 2011-12 roster.

July 26, 2011


Director and Head Coach of Penn State Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan and Nittany Lion coaching staff have announced the addition of 29 athletes on the 2011-12 roster.  Both the Penn State men's and women's squads recently capped off outstanding 2010-11 campaigns, highlighted by runner-up finishes by the women's team at both the Big Ten Indoor and Outdoor Championships.  Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions men's contingent turned in a pair of top 20 finishes at both NCAA Championship competitions, including an 11th-place effort indoors.

"We're looking forward to the incoming class for 2011-12," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. "I feel all of these athletes will be in a position to accelerate the program to even higher heights, with even loftier goals and bigger ambitions. Our incoming class displays the continued balance of our program, and helps grow our depth across the board."

Women's Recruiting Class

Leigha Anderson
Carlisle, Pa. (Cumberland Valley) || Distance

A four-time state qualifier in cross country, Anderson developed an impressive resume during her career at Cumberland Valley, turning in finishes of 11th or better during all four appearances at the PIAA State Championships, including a bronze-medal effort as a junior in 2009. Also a four-time participant at the PIAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Anderson boasts a career-best finish of fourth in the 3200-meter run as a junior, clocking a PR of 10:41.11.

Gabrielle Barbour
Upper Brookville, N.Y. (St. Anthony's) || Sprints

Barbour placed fourth in the 200-meters, and was a member of St. Anthony's winning 4x100-meter relay at the NSCHSAA Championship this past spring. Indoors, Barbour qualified for the NYSPHSAA State Championships in the 55-meters, and also participated in the event at Nike Indoor Nationals in 2010, and New Balance Indoor Nationals in 2011.

Abigail Benson
Elma, N.Y. (Iroquis) || Distance

Benson took top honors in the 1500-meters at the N.Y. Section 6 State Qualifier as a senior, and would run a PR 4:34.44 at the N.Y. State Championships in the event. The Iroquis High School product was a two-time Section 6 Champion during her senior indoor season, winning both the 1000-meters and 1500. An athlete with an impressive range, Benson owns PRs of 2:15.69 for the 800-meters, 2:54.10 in the 1000, and 10:29.60 in the 3,000-meters. She is also a N.Y. state qualifier in cross country.

Shelley Black
Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (James M. Coughlin) || Sprints, Hurdles

Black has proven to be one of the top hurdlers in the high school ranks, recently placing fourth in the 100-meter hurdles at New Balance High School Nationals with a personal-best 13.63. The Wilkes-Barre, Pa., native was equally as outstanding at the PIAA State Championships this season, picking up victories in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, to go along with a fourth-place finish in the long jump. A mainstay at on the state podium over the past several seasons, Black won state titles in both hurdle races as a junior, and followed up with a second-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles at PTFCA Indoor Championships as a senior. Nationally, Black ran a personal-best 8.45 in the 60 hurdles to place fourth at the 2011 New Balance Indoor Nationals. Also boasting international experience on her resume, Black was selected to represent the U.S. at the Germany-Japan-USA Trilateral Friendly Indoor Meet this past winter.

Dynasty Boxley-McGee
Ypsilanti, Mich. (Ypsilanti) || Sprints, Hurdles

One the top-sprint prospects of the Class of 2011, McGee has been a consistent fixture at the top of the heap at the state and national levels, having 13 Michigan state titles to her credit, as well as numerous national accolades. Boasting personal bests of 12.23 (100-meters), 24.34 (200-meters), and 53.93 (400-meters), McGee placed second in the 400 at New Balance Indoor Nationals this winter, to follow up a bronze-medal effort in the event at New Balance Outdoor Nationals in 2010. An overall talent, McGee can also hold her own in the jumps with PRs of 19-8 in the long jump, and 39-1 in the triple jump and has also run 1:03.10 in the 400-meter hurdles. The Ypsilanti, Mich., product has also excelled at the international level, representing the U.S. at the 2010 Caribbean Scholastic Invitational, where she scored gold-medal finishes in the 400, 400 hurdles, and 4x400-meter relay.

Rachel Casciano
Wyomissing, Pa. (Reading Holy Name) || Distance

Casciano was a double qualifier at the 2010 PIAA Outdoor Championships, competing in the 1600- and 3200-meters. Also a state qualifier in cross country, placed 18th in the PIAA AA field as a senior, and turned in a third-place finish at the PIAA District III Championships. She has run 5:04.75 for the 1600, and 11:14.14 for the 3200.

Rachel Chernaskey
Gilbertsville, Pa. (Pope John Paul II) || Multi-Events

A promising multi-event prospect, Chernaskey recently totaled 4255 points to place fourth in the heptathlon at New Balance Outdoor Nationals. No stranger to national competition, Chernaskey also competed in the heptathlon at the USATF Junior Olympics in 2010, placing 11th overall. She competed in the 100-meters, 200-meters, and long jump at the PIAA District 1 Championships as a senior, and qualified for the PIAA State Championships as a sophomore, and again as a junior.

Bria Edwards
Hazle Township, Pa. (Hazleton Area) || Distance

Another addition to the Nittany Lion distance/cross country contingent, Edwards has already been successful in Happy Valley, placing second overall at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational as a senior. Edwards was a PIAA state qualifier in the 3200-meters as a sophomore, and advanced to the state meet in cross country as a junior.

Kerrin Jennings
Chester, Pa. (Padua Academy) || Distance

Jennings turned in an outstanding weekend at the Delaware (DIAA) State Championships as a senior, scoring podium finishes in the 800- and 1600-meters, and running on the second-place 4x800-meter relay. She would go on to place sixth in the 1600 at the DIAA Meet of Champions during her senior campaign. During the 2011 indoor season, Jennings placed fourth in the 1600, sixth in the 3200, and ran on second-place squads in both the 4x400-meters and 4x800. As a junior, Jennings ran a PR 5:04.18 to take runner-up honors at the Delaware Meet of Champions.

Lauren Kenney
State College, Pa. (State College Area) || Javelin

One of the top-ranked throwers on the East Coast and across the country, Kenney will join the Nittany Lion throws contingent with a PR of 156-2 in the javelin, which stands as the sixth-best performance in the country this year. Kenney had a wildly successful senior year at State College Area High School, picking up wins at the PIAA AAA State Championships, and the PIAA District VI Championships, as well as a victory against a national-class field at the prestigious Penn Relays. A three-time PIAA state qualifier, Kenney recorded third-place efforts during her sophomore and junior seasons, before taking top honors as a senior. The State College, Pa., native also held her own against top competition last month, placing 10th at the USATF Junior Championships in Eugene, Ore.

Melanie Leszcynski
Audobon, Pa. (Methacton) || Javelin

Another addition to the Nittany Lions' talented javelin group, Leszcynski was the District 1 Champion in the event as a senior, and qualified for the PIAA State Championships, where she finished ninth overall. Leszcynski was also the Pioneer Athletic Conference Champion as a senior, and finished 16th in an outstanding field at Penn Relays. A four-time PIAA qualifier, Leszcynski owns a personal-best toss of 133-7.

Lauren Mills
Kennett Square, Pa. (Unionville) || Distance

Mills recently scored a fifth-place finish in the 3200-meters at the PIAA Outdoor Championships, via a career-best effort of 10:53.27. Also a standout in cross country, Mills finished 23rd at the PIAA Cross Country Championships as a senior. Mills, who owns a 1600-meter PR of 5:00.33 was also a PIAA qualifier in outdoor track as a junior, and competed at the indoor state meet as a senior.

Shelby Olafson
Watkins Glen, N.Y. (Watkins Glen) || Jumps

Olafson is a three-time N.Y. state qualifier in the high jump while competing for Watkins Glen High School. Her career-best effort at the state meet was a sixth-place finish as a sophomore, when she cleared a personal-best 5-5. She finished second in the high jump at the Section 4 State Qualifier as a junior.

Sarah Palmer
Gansevoort, N.Y. (Schuylerville) || Multi-Events

Palmer - an outstanding prospect in the high jump - has enjoyed outstanding success in the high jump during her career at Schuylerville High School, coming in with a career-best clearance of 5-9.25. A dominant force on the New York high school scene, Palmer won five-straight Section 2 titles in the event, and won a total of four N.Y. high jump crowns over her career. Palmer cleared 5-8.75 (1.75) to finish fourth at New Balance Indoor Nationals as a senior.

Susie Pancoast
West Chester, Pa. (Unionville) || Throws

Pancoast will join the Nittany Lion throws roster, following PIAA-state appearances in both the javelin and the discus this past spring. Pancoast advanced to the state meet via a first-place finish in the discus, and a third-place effort in the javelin at the District I Championships, where she also competed in the shot put. Pancoast, who has thrown 128-5 in the javelin, and 124-7 in the discus, also qualified for the state championships in the discus and javelin as a junior.

Brianna Rauenzahn
Schuylkill Haven, Pa. (Blue Mountain) || Multi-Events

Rauenzahn ended her career at Blue Mountain High School with a 15th-place finish in the long jump at the PIAA Outdoor Championships. The effort was her third-career appearance in the PIAA long jump competition, having made the meet as a freshman, and again as a junior. Also a successful hurdler, Rauenzahn qualified for the state meet in the 100-meter hurdles as a sophomore.

Men's Recruiting Class

Colin Baker
Haddonfield, N.J. (Haddonfield Memorial/University of Pennsylvania) || Distance

Baker will join the Nittany Lions after spending his freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania. Baker ran a personal-best 4:09.30 to place second in the 1600-meters at the 2009 New Jersey Meet of Champions. Baker, who has run 1:55.59 for 800-meters, finished third in both the 800 and the 1600 at the New Jersey Group 2 Championships as a senior in 2010. The rising sophomore was also a three-time Meet of Champions qualifier in cross country.

Sancho Barrett
Amityville, N.Y. (Amityville Memorial) || Sprints, Hurdles

One of the top hurdle prospects in the Northeast, Barrett capped off the 2011 outdoor season with 110-hurdle victories at the N.Y. Section 11 State Qualifier, and the NYSPHSAA State Championships. At the Section 11 Qualifier, Barrett dipped under the 14-second barrier for the first time in his career, turning in a PR 13.98 - the top time by a New Yorker in 2011. Indoors, the Amityville Memorial standout clocked a 7.44 to win the 55-meter hurdles at the Hispanic Games at the New York Armory. Barrett's performance was ranked second in the state of New York in 2011, and 13th nationally. As a junior, Barrett won the N.Y. state outdoor title in the 110 hurdles, and finished second in the 55 hurdles at the indoor state meet.

Brandon Bennett-Green
Elkins Park, Pa. (Cheltenham/Neumann University) || Sprints, Relays

Bennett-Green will join his twin brother, Bernard, on the Nittany Lion roster, along with high-school relay mate and incoming freshman Matt Gilmore. Bennett-Green spent the last year at Division III Neumann University, where he led the team in the sprinting events, running 22.20 for 200-meters and 47.44 for 400-meters. Nationally, Bennett-Green placed third in the 400 at the NCAA Division III Championships, and also earned third-place standing at the ECAC Championships. In high school, he placed fifth in the 400 at the 2010 PIAA State Championships, and was a member of the fifth-place 4x400-meter relay in the "Championship of America" section at Penn Relays.

Ryan Brennan
Chester, N.Y. (Monroe-Woodbury) || Mid-Distance

Brennan comes to Penn State with some outstanding middle distance credentials, including a 10th-place effort in the 800-meters at New Balance Outdoor Nationals, where he clocked a personal-best 1:51.34. The incoming freshman placed second in the event at the NYSPHSAA State Championships, and was also a member of Monroe-Woodbury's fourth-place 4x800-meter relay. As a junior, Brennan placed third in the half mile at the N.Y. state meet, and went on to anchor the runner-up sprint medley relay at New Balance Outdoor Nationals with an official 800 split of 1:49.13. Brennan also owns an impressive PR in the 400-meters at 47.75.

Glen Burkhardt
Kennett Square, Pa. (Unionville) || Distance

Burkhardt captured gold-medal honors at the PIAA State Outdoor Championships this spring, winning the 3200-meters with a personal-best 9:07.53 - the second-fastest time in Pennsylvania in 2011. Burkhardt also has outstanding cross country credentials on his resume, having placed 22nd at the PIAA State Championships as a junior. Burkhardt is a two-time state qualifier in outdoor track, and also made the state meet in indoor track in 2010.

Chris Campbell
Newtown, Pa. (Council Rock North) || Distance

A three-time PIAA state qualifier in cross country, Campbell capped an outstanding cross country career at Council Rock North last fall, representing the Northeast Region at the 2010 Footlocker Cross Country Championships. Campbell was just as impressive at the state level over his career, placing seventh at the PIAA AAA Championships as a junior, and fourth as a senior in 2010. The Newtown, Pa., native also made a pair of trips to the PIAA Outdoor Championships in the 1600-meter run, taking sixth as a junior, and seventh this past spring. Campbell has run 4:14.93 for the 1600, and 8:52.05 for 3,000-meters.

Robert Creese
Mount Airy, Md. (Glenelg) || Distance

Creese, who placed sixth in the 2011 Penn Relays mile, enjoyed an outstanding weekend at the Maryland State AA Championships this spring, turning in a victory in the 3200-meters, as well as second-place efforts in the 800- and 1600-meters. Indoors, Creese took home a trio of Maryland state titles, winning the 800, 1600, and 3200. He would also go on to finish 11th in the mile run at New Balance Indoor Nationals as a senior. Creese will make the trip to Happy Valley with personal bests of 1:54.00 in the 800, 4:10.60 in the mile run, and 9:17.28 for the 3200.

Wade Endress
Altoona, Pa. (Altoona Area) || Distance

Endress will join former high school teammates Aaron Nadolsky (Altoona, Pa.) and Brady Gehret (Altoona, Pa.) on the Nittany Lion roster after a stellar career at Altoona Area High School. Specializing in the middle distances, Endress owns personal bests of 1:51.73 for 800-meters, and 4:13.34 for the mile, but also has enjoyed outstanding success on the cross country course including a runner-up effort at the PIAA AAA Championships this past fall. Endress was a double winner at PTFCA Indoor Championships as a senior, taking top honors in both the 800 and mile run. His PR 1:51.73 at the state meet is also a Pennsylvania state indoor record. Endress, who was would also score a pair of podium finishes at the PIAA Outdoor Championships this year, placing third in the 800 and fourth in the 1600-meters, and qualified for Nike Cross Country Nationals this past fall.

Matt Gilmore
Elkins Park, Pa. (Cheltenham) || Sprints, Relays

Another in-state standout, Gilmore recently won the 400-meters at the PIAA Outdoor Championships, to go along with a silver-medal finish in the 200-meters. Indoors, he took top honors in the 200, 400, and 4x200-meter relay at the PFTCA Championships as a senior, and also captured a victory in the 400 at the prestigious Hispanic Games Invitational at the New York Armory this past winter. An outstanding relay runner, Gilmore was a member of the second-place 4x400-meter relay at the 2010 New Balance Nationals, along with former Cheltenham and future Nittany Lion teammates Bernard Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.) and Brandon Bennett-Green. The Cheltenham 4x400 also finished fifth in the Penn Relays "Championship of America" in 2010. Gilmore will come to Happy Valley with personal bests of 10.82 in the 100, 22.42 in the 200, and 47.46 for 400.

Brian Leap
Bellwood, Pa. (Bellwood Antis) || Jumps

Leap scored two podium finishes at the 2011 PIAA AA Outdoor Championships, placing second in the triple jump and seventh in the long jump, while also competing in the high jump at the state meet. The Bellwood Antis standout also earned a trio of medals at the District VI Championships as a senior, placing first in the triple jump, second in the high jump, and third in the long jump. A three-time state qualifier in the triple jump, Leap boast lifetime bests of 6-7 in the high jump, 21-8 in the long jump, and 47-11.75 in the triple jump.

Connor Manley
Jamison, Pa. (Central Bucks West) || Middle Distance

Manley will be a welcome addition to the Nittany Lions' already outstanding mid-distance squad, having run a personal-best 1:51.50 for 800-meters. Manley impressed in a national-class field at Penn Relays this past spring, anchoring his Central Bucks West squad to a third-place finish in the 4x800 Championship of America with a 1:51.51 anchor leg. Manley also ran a sizzling anchor leg on the 4x800 at the PIAA Championships, helping his Central Bucks West squad pull off an exciting come-from-behind victory in the event. The Jamison, Pa., native concluded his senior campaign with wins in the 400-meters and 800 at the SOL Continental Conference Championships, before placing second in the 800 at the PIAA District I AAA Championships. Indoors, Manley was a member of the winning 4x800 at the PTFCA Indoor Championships.

Michael McClelland
Washington, Pa. (Trinity) || Jumps

McClelland will join the Nittany Lion jumps squad this fall, coming in with a personal-best clearance of 6-10 in the high jump. The 2011 PTFCA Indoor Champion in the event, McClelland also won a District VII AAA title as a senior, and was a three-time PIAA state qualifier.

Dele Owoye
Danbury, Conn. (Danbury) || Sprints

Owoye placed fifth in the 100-meters, and eighth in the 200-meters at the New England Championships to cap off his career at Danbury High School. Owoye won the 200, placed third in the 100, and anchored the second-place 4x400-meter relay at the CIAC Class LL Outdoor Championships as a senior, and placed second in the 55-meters and seventh in the 300-meters at the indoor state championships. He owns personal bests of 10.96 in the 100 and 21.94 in the 200.




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