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Aug. 29, 2012
UPDATE: Because of a time change in the Life... Back on Track relay finish, the Dolan Duals at Lock Haven will likely be bumped to an earlier start time. It is recommended that fans arrive no later than 9:00 a.m., to be sure to make race time.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As has become a fall tradition, the Nittany Lion cross country will open up the 2012 campaign by making the short trip to Lock Haven University, for the annual Dolan Duals on Friday morning. Races are set to begin at 10:00 a.m., with both genders running short-course competitions, as the women will take on a 4,000-meter race, and the men will cover 6,000-meters.
The 2012 campaign will feature a wealth of senior leadership with Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.), Lindsey Graybill (Macungie, Pa.), and Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio) captaining the women's squad, and Tyler Corkedale (West Windsor, N.J.) and Tom Luff (Emmaus, Pa.). The Nittany Lions are led by Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan, who is beginning her 14th year in Happy Valley, along with Associate Head Coach John Gondak, who is in his seventh year on the Nittany Lion coaching staff.
The women's squad, which finished 13th at the NCAA Championships a year ago, stands to make another run to the national championships, with Ridder and Bower both returning from NCAA All-Region finishes in 2012, and junior Emily Giannotti (Coudersport, Pa.) coming off a Second Team All-Big Ten standing. The Lions have also picked up 2011 Footlocker Finalist Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) from Pennridge High School, as well as Anna Boyert (Medina, Ohio), who boasts several top finishes on the track and in cross country at the Ohio State Championships over the past several seasons.
Also looking to make an impact on the course this fall is junior Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio). Simko impressed on the track last spring, clocking a school-record 2:03.09 for 800-meters and qualifying for the US Olympic Trials.
Corkedale is the top finisher from the Lions' fourth-place team at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships a year ago, after placing 36th overall. Also back after promising freshman campaigns are sophomore Wade Endress (Altoona, Pa.), and redshirt-sophomore Matt Fischer (Kennett Square, Pa.), who were both members of the Lions' top seven throughout the 2011 season. Joining the fray is senior Sam Masters (Columbia, Mo.), who comes to Penn State after multiple All-Conference USA finishes at the University of Tulsa.
The Lions will also look to redshirt-freshman Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) to step into the top seven after a record-setting freshman campaign on the track. Creese became just the third athlete in Penn State history to dip under the 4:00-mile barrier last winter, achieving the feat on two occasions, including a PR 3:58.92.
Friday will be a busy day for the Nittany Lion track and field/cross country program, with the Life... Back on Track 1,000-miler relay, presented by the Kevin Dare Foundation, scheduled to arrive on Nittany Lion Track at approximately 2:00 p.m. The relay, which features a 10-member team, eight of whom are Penn State graduates, began on Monday at the University of Minnesota Field House and will race across the country, completing the remaining distance of the relay upon arrival at Nittany Lion Track.
The Nittany Lions will open up their home slate next weekend, hosting the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, on Saturday, September 8, and the Blue-White Golf Courses.