Aug. 31, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2010 Penn State men's cross country team will open its 2010 campaign this Friday at the Dolan Duals at Lock Haven, led by juniors Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.) and Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.), who both boast outstanding credentials nationally and within the Big Ten Conference. The Nittany Lions return a considerable amount of experience, as eight of nine members of the 2009 Big Ten squad return to the 2010 line up. Penn State will also enjoy the benefit of the home course advantage this season, hosting a pair of home competitions, as well as the 2010 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, where the bids to the NCAA Championships will be determined.
McNally made his second-straight appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships last fall, following an 11th-place and All-Big Ten Second Team effort at the Big Ten Championships. Dawson - a team captain - enjoyed a sensational freshman campaign in 2008, earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, and running as top finisher on the Nittany Lions' 23rd-place squad at the 2008 NCAA Championships. The Nittany Lions will also welcome back standouts Chris Cipro (Harmony, Pa.) - a junior and 2010 team captain - as well as sophomore Danny Pawola (Naperville, Ill.), and senior Samuel Borchers (Yellow Springs, Ohio). All three athletes posted promising cross country seasons in 2009, with Pawola and Cipro clocking impressive 5,000-meter performances on the track, while Borchers was an NCAA First Round qualifier in the 1500-meters. New to the Nittany Lion roster in 2010 is Pa. 3200-meter State Champion Matt Fischer (Kennett Square, Pa.), who was also a top 25 finisher at the PIAA Cross Country Championships as a prep.
About the Lock Haven Dolan Duals
Where: Lock Haven, Pa. (West Branch Cross Country Course)
When: Friday, September 3
Race Distances: Women - 4,000-meters; Men - 6,000-meters
Start Times: Men - 10:30 a.m.; Women - 11:15 a.m.
Host Website: www.lhup.edu/sports/havensports/
Penn State Info: www.GoPSUsports.com, or Follow PSU Cross Country on Twitter @JessRiden
Along with their two regular season home competitions, the Nittany Lions will get a chance to match up with the nation's best throughout the country in 2010, including trips to Minnesota and Notre Dame. After opening up the season with a 6,000-meter competition at Lock Haven this weekend, the Lions will be back at home for the annual Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, which is set to include competition from throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region. The Lions will then hit the road for the Roy Griak Invitational at Minnesota on September 25, where Penn State will get their first taste of Big Ten competition on the season, including the always talented Golden Gophers. Following a quick turnaround, the Lions will be back in action at the Notre Dame Invitational, which features a flat and fast 8,000-meter course, as well as a national-caliber field. After a weekend off, Penn State will return home for the high-powered Penn State National on the Blue & White Golf Courses, to get one last look at its home course prior to the regional championships.
Then it's on to championship season, with the Big Ten Championships set for Sunday, October 31 at the University of Wisconsin. The conference looks to field a host of talented squads again in 2010, with four Big Ten teams listed in the USTFCCCA Preseason Top 30, led by Wisconsin at No. 7. The Nittany Lions will then move onto the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships in Happy Valley, where the course distance will move to 10,000-meters. The top two squads in the team standings at the regional meet will receive automatic bids to the NCAA Championships on November 22, in Terre Haute, Ind., while the rest of the field will be determined by at-large points earned throughout the season.
McNally headlined the Lion line up a year ago, running as Penn State's top finisher throughout the season, including outstanding finishes throughout the championship season. Also adding to the overall Nittany Lion effort where then sophomores Cipro and Borchers, who ran as consistent members of the Nittany Lion scoring five throughout the season. Cipro was the Lions' number two man at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional, while Borchers assistanted as Penn State second finisher at the Notre Dame Invitational. Pawola also impressed as a freshman, finishing in the Nittany Lion top five at the Notre Dame Invitational, Big Ten Championships, and NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional. Pawola also placed 11th overall at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, as the Nittany Lions' number one runner on the afternoon. Big Ten squad members Ryan Foster (Tasmania, Australia), Lucas Zarzeczny (Pittsburgh, Pa.), and Tom Luff (Emmaus, Pa.) also return in 2010, after promising efforts in 2009.
On the scoreboard, the Nittany Lions turned in a pair of top five finishes throughout the regular season, taking third place at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, and finishing fourth at the Cappy Anderson Invitational at Maryland-Eastern Shore.
Nittany Lions on the Track
The Nittany Lion distance contingent posted impressive performances throughout the indoor and outdoor seasons in 2010, with Dawson leading the way at 5,000-meters with efforts of 14:07.56 indoors and 14:05.17 outside. McNally also turned in some outstanding finishes in the 5K, clocking a personal-best 14:06.24 to place eighth in the event at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships. Both McNally and Dawson qualified for the NCAA First Round in the 5,000, placing 21st, and 35th, respectively. Pawola and Cipro also posted outstanding results in the 5,000, with Pawola clocking a PR 14:19.09, and Cipro going 14:23.37, at Penn Relays. Cipro also recorded a performance of 30:59.61 in his first-career attempt at the 10,000-meters at the Big Ten Championships. Borchers was also a Big Ten scorer in 2010, placing fifth in the 1500-meters with a personal-best 3:45.06.
The Lions will also look to its middle distance contingent to contribute on the course, with Foster, Owen Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.), and Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.) all boasting NCAA credentials on the track. Foster claimed bronze medal honors at 800-meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships in 2010, while Dawson captured his first-career All-America finish with an eighth-place standing. Loxsom gained international acclaim following his rookie campaign, earning silver-medal honors in the 800 at the IAAF World Junior Championships.
A total of six freshman will join the Nittany Lion roster this fall, including Fischer, Bernard Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.), Mike Mahoney (Richboro, Pa.), Steve Morrone (Sewell, N.J.), Shawn Quinn (Ambler, Pa.) and Nick Scarpello (Jamison, Pa.). Pennsylvania products Scarpello, Fischer, Mahoney, and Quinn were all participants at the PIAA Cross Country Championships a year ago, with Scarpello leading the way with a 15th-place effort. The new Nittany Lion class are also used to a great deal of team success on the cross country course, with Quinn running as a member of LaSalle College High School's third-place squad at the PIAA meet in 2010, Fischer aiding in Unionville's sixth-place effort, and Mahoney helping Council Rock North to a 12th-place finish.