Cross Country Opens Season at Lock Haven this Friday
Aug. 27, 2008
UNIVERISITY PARK, Pa. - With a full summer of training under their belts, the Nittany Lion cross country teams are set to begin there fall season this weekend, traveling to the Dolan Duals at Lock Haven University. Both Penn State teams return the nearly all of last year's top seven lineups and are poised for more successes in this fall.
The 2008 cross country season is shaping up to be one for the record books as the Nittany Lion are poised and ready to make an impact on the conference and national levels this fall. After spending the majority of the 2007 campaign ranked among the nation's top 30 teams, the Nittany Lions would post a fourth-place finish at the Miid-Atlantic Regional Championships - undoubtedly one of the most challenging regions in the country - but would come up just short of an NCAA bid. With the entire top five back from last season, and a seasoned roster including eight upperclassmen, the Nittany Lions will be hungry to move up the Big Ten standings and earn a national berth in the 2008.
Back in 2008 is team captain and NCAA qualifier Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio), who is coming off a record-breaking outdoor track and field campaign. Franek proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, winning her first-career Big Ten title and turning in a school-record 9:58.56 in the victory. Franek followed up with a win at the NCAA East Regional Championships, and capped off the season with a bronze-medal effort at the NCAA Championships. Franek would also represent the Blue and White at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials and go on to run for the United States team at the NACAC Under-23 Championships over the summer.
Franek also has quite the supporting cast, including returning All-Region athletes Leah Rosenfeld (Ridgefield, Conn.) and Cheryl Spring (The Woodlands, Texas). Rosenfeld, now a redshirt sophomore, burst to the front of the Lion pack in 2007, finishing the season with a 14th-place effort at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional. Spring, who is entering her junior year, followed in 23rd - her second-consecutive All-Region finish. Both athletes were at the top of their game on the track, as Rosenfeld posted a regional-qualifer performance in the 1500-meters outdoors, and Spring qualified for the regional meet in the steeplechase and 5,000-meters.
Also back after an impressive spring is senior Claire Percival (Sarnia, Ontario). Percival spent all of the 2007 in the Nittany Lion top five and followed up with a scoring performance in the Big Ten steeplechase. Percival would also go on to win the event at the Canadian Olympic Trials. Classmate Claire Berryman (Morgantown, W.Va.) is also ready to run this fall afer a solid 2007 campaign. Berryman impressed throughout the postseason last fall, running as the Lions' fourth finisher at both the Big Ten and Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships. The Lions will also look to seasoned veterans Meghan Noecker (Reading, Pa.), Kathryn Fitzgerald (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Jessie Babcock (Irvine, Calif.), and Janelle Young (Lemoyne, Pa.) to earn spots in the top seven, and provide depth to a experienced Lion squad.
The Lions will bring in another outstanding recruiting class in 2008, including high school standouts Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) and Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.). Lane joins the Nittany Lions after a storied career at Greenwich High School in Greenwich, N.Y., where she led her squad to a NYS Class C state championship in 2007 with a first-place finish. Lane also boasts an impressive PR 9:27 for 3,000-meters. Millhouse, a Boiling Springs, Pa., product, took second in the AA Division 800-meters at the 2008 PIAA State Track and Field Championships (2:14.17), after a third-place finish at the state meet in cross country. Millhouse won the state 3200-meter title as a sophomore, and comes to Penn State with a personal-best 10:35.43.
Led by a seasoned group of veterans, the Penn State men's cross country team will look to build upon the strides it made over the past two seasons and begin to make a charge to prominence at both the conference and national levels. With a pack of seven seniors and several talented and hungry underclassmen, the Lions will be poised and ready to achieve their goals this season.
Last season, the Lions hit their stride early on, scoring a third-place finish at the Iona Meet of Champions, downing regional foes Navy and American. The Penn State contingent would follow up with a runner-up finish at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, finishing just short of a victory over a solid squad from Columbia. The Lions continued to impress with a third-place effort at the Penn State National, finishing behind only La Salle and Oklahoma in a highly competitive field.
The Lions schedule will be just as challenging this season, beginning with the Dolan Duals at Lock Haven on Aug. 29, before hosting the annual Spiked Shoe event on Sept. 13. The Lions will then head back to the Bronx, N.Y., for the Iona Meet of Champions on Sept. 20, and make the cross country trip to Eugene, Ore., for the Bill Dellinger Invitational on Oct. 4. This season will mark the Lions' first appearance to the Dellinger Invite, which is sure to provide Penn State with solid competition and a shot at gaining some coveted out-of-region points.
The Nittany Lions welcome another stellar recruiting class this fall, including Pennsylvana standout Vince McNally (Smoketown, Pa.), who boasts a 4:08.99 PR in the mile run, and Australian talent Ryan Foster (Tasmania, Australia), who qualified for the World Junior Championships on 2006.
Penn State will then come back to Happy Valley for the Penn State National on Oct. 17, before hitting the postseason trail with the Big Ten Championships at Michigan on Nov. 2. Princeton will play host to the NCAA Miid-Atlantic Regional on Nov. 15, with the top teams and individuals advancing to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. on Nov. 24.