Cross Country to Face National Elites at Roy Griak Invitational
Sept. 23, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.: September 23, 2010 - Following a pair of outstanding performances at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational earlier this month, the Nittany Lion cross country teams will be back in action this weekend, facing a national-class field at the 25th Roy Griak Invitational at the Les Bolstad Golf Course on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Both the men's and women's races stand to feature a host of highly-ranked programs, including nine teams that posted top 30 finishes at the NCAA Championships a year ago, while the men's race is set with five programs in the current USTFCCCA Top 30 toeing the line.
The opening road trip of the 2010 campaign will also mark the first time the Nittany Lion women have traveled to the Griak event since the 2004 season, and the first appearance by the men's team since 2001. The competition will also be a homecoming for Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan, who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1989, and competing in cross country and track and field for the Golden Gophers.
About the 25th Roy Griak Invitational:
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Women's Race Preview:
Coming off a 14th-place finish at the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships, the Nittany Lion women's squad will likely be in the thick of the competition, against top 20 foes, including No. 7 Duke, No. 14 Providence, No. 15 Iowa State, and No. 18 New Mexico. The defending Big Ten Champions in cross country, the 27th-ranked Penn State contingent will also get their first look at conference competition in host and No. 28 Minnesota. Returning six of nine members of last year's Big Ten title squad, the Nittany Lions have mixed it up out front during the first two competitions of the season, with junior Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) leading the way in the Lions' opener at Lock Haven, and Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) finishing as the top Penn Stater at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational. Lane was the Lions' number two finisher at the NCAA meet last fall, placing 86th overall.
Also running well during the early season have been senior Paige Anderson (Carlisle, Pa.), sophomores Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.) and Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio), as well as freshman Emily Giannotti (Coudersport, Pa.). Both Bower and Ridder were key members on the Lions' NCAA team a year ago, and have continued to impressive this fall, with Bower placing 10th overall as Penn State's number two runner at Spiked Shoe, and Ridder running as a member of the Lions' top five during both early season competitions this year. Anderson has been on fire throughout the first two races of the season, placing second for the Lions at Lock Haven, and 17th overall - fifth for Penn State - at Spiked Shoe, shaving over a full minute off her finish time at the same competition last year.
Men's Race Preview:
The men's squad will be paced by junior duo Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) and Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.). Dawson led the Lions to a fourth-place finish in the team standings at the Spiked Shoe Invitational with a third-place effort individually in an outstanding field. McNally was the top finisher for the Lions the week prior, taking top honors at the Lock Haven Dolan Duals. Both juniors boast impressive big meet experience, as Dawson and McNally were the top two finishers on Penn State's 23rd-place squad at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships, with McNally making a return trip to the NCAA meet as an individual in 2009.
Stepping up to the front of the pack during the early season has been junior Chris Cipro (Harmony, Pa.), who was the Lions' second finisher at Lock Haven and ran as Penn State's third runner at Spiked Shoe. Also filling out the top five scoring finishers throughout the first two competitions have been sophomores Danny Pawola (Naperville, Ill.) and Tom Luff (Emmaus, Pa.), as well as senior Lucas Zarzeczny (Pittsburgh, Pa.). Middle distance standouts Ryan Foster (Tasmania, Australia) and Owen Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) have also been running well on the cross country course this fall, with both seniors finishing in the Lions' top seven over the opening competitions of the season.
Last Time Out:
Juniors Kara Millhouse and Kyle Dawson each posted top 10 finishes, leading their teams to outstanding finishes in stellar fields, on Saturday, September 11 at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational at the Blue and White Golf Courses. Millhouse recorded a seventh-place effort, pacing the 24th-ranked women's squad to a third-place finish in the team standings, while Dawson's third-place showing helped the Nittany Lion men to a fourth-place standing.
The Nittany Lion women totaled 59 points for third - thanks to five finishers in the top 17 - behind No. 11 Georgetown with 28 points, and No. 7 Princeton with 45 points. Princeton took the team title on the men's side, edging No. 16 Georgetown, 48-52, with Navy in third with 79, and Penn State in fourth with a 92-point total.
Dawson held his own among a tremendous men's field, placing third overall in 25:19 for the 5.2-mile tour - just six seconds off individual champion Donn Cabral of Princeton. Junior Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.) would also turn in a top 10 finish, placing seventh with a finishing time of 25:34. Junior Chris Cipro (Harmony, Pa.) was the Lions' third finisher, crossing the finish line in 26:03 to take 21st in team scoring.
Big Ten Recognition:
Following individual victories at the Dolan Duals at Lock Haven on September 3, juniors Caitlin Lane and Vince McNally have been named Big Ten Runners of the Week, announced by conference offices on Tuesday, September 7. The award was the third citation for Lane, while McNally received conference recognition for the first occasion.
The Nittany Lion men's and women's cross country teams opened the 2010 campaign in style on September 3, collecting individual victories from juniors Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.), and Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.), as well as a pair of team victories at the Lock Haven Dolan Duals at West Branch Cross Country Course. The Penn State women put together a top seven sweep over their opponents, to post a perfect score of 15-50, while the Nittany Lion men always came away with a victory, winning 23-35.