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Sept. 19, 2011
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- On a crisp morning in Happy Valley, the Nittany Lion men's and women's cross country teams hosted the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational.
With a rigorous upcoming schedule, coach Beth Alford-Sullivan decided to rest the men's and women's varsity squads.
"We took this race really low key," said Alford-Sullivan. "We sat our varsity squads so we really weren't expecting much of a team score. Our young runners gained a lot of experience as we gave them the opportunity to race on our home course."
Leading the way for the women's team were sophomores Lucia Sofo and Marta Klebe. Sofo, placing 25th out of a field of 116 runners, posted a time of 22:51. She was immediately followed by teammate Klebe, who finished 26th and matched the time of Sofo. The tandem stuck together for the majority of the 6,000-meter race, using it as a strategy to push one another.
"I really enjoyed kicking it in with Marta [Klebe] at the end of the race," said Sofo. "It really felt as if we were working as a team out there and pushing each other."
As for the course conditions, it was a cloudy day in State College and a bit chillier than it traditionally is during this time in September.
"The conditions were great," said Klebe. "The cold really didn't bother me at all, it was perfect cross country weather."
"This is my favorite course," added Sofo. "It is pretty hilly, but the conditions were good and I felt great out there. This is my seventh time running this course including high school meets."
The No. 1-ranked Georgetown Hoyas placed first in the women's field, with six of their nine runners coming in the top ten in the race. Freshman Hannah Neczypor placed first overall, with a time of 21:05. The Nittany Lions placed fifth as a team.
On the men's side, junior Colin Anderson was the first Nittany Lion to cross the line, with a time of 27:07. Anderson was followed by sophomore Colin Baker, who crossed the line at 27:34. Both men placed in the top 25 in 5.2 mile race.
"It's starting to feel like cross country season out here," said Baker. "My strategy was to start off fast so I didn't get stuck in the back. I went out a little harder than I wanted to but I just tried to hang on and close as hard as I could."
The men's team didn't officially place, as they were ruled as an incomplete team for not having enough runners participate. SUNY Geneseo took home the top team spot, as four of their nine runners finished in the top ten. Geneseo senior Lee Berube took home the individual crown at 25:54.
The Nittany Lions can be seen in action next at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sept. 24. The next time Penn State will lace up for their home course will be on Oct. 14, for the Penn State National.