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Sept. 24, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.: September 24, 2011 - Led by top 10 efforts from seniors Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) and Caitlin Lane(Greenwich, N.Y.), the Nittany Lion cross country squads both tallied solid finishes in a national-class field, Saturday at the Roy Griak Invitational at Les Bolstad Golf Course, at the University of Minnesota. Both Nittany Lion number ones improved upon their 2010 Griak finishes, with Lane turning in a seventh-place effort to lead the women, and Dawson taking eighth overall in a talented men's field. Dawson's finish would propel the Nittany Lion men to a fifth-place finish in the team standings, while Lane paced the women's contingent to an eighth-place standing.
"We had a really solid race on the men's side," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. "We came in here last year, and we were ninth or 10th, and we turned it up a little bit and got into the top five and I think that was definitely a goal to accomplish that type of result. We should be very happy with what we did on the guys' side, it was exciting to see them run so competitively throughout the race."
Dawson, who improved upon his 13th-place effort from a year ago, crossed in 24:13 to finish second among Big Ten competition. Minnesota's Hassan Mead was the first conference competitor to cross, finishing third in 23:49. Next in line for the Nittany Lions was redshirt-freshman Matt Fischer (Unionville, Pa.), who turned in an impressive 30th-place finish in his first-career appearance at 8,000-meters, clocking 24:47.
"I haven't really raced because of injury since last cross country season," said Dawson on the competition. "So it felt good to be back in a competitive race, and an 8K especially. This is a tough course to open up on because of all the hills, but it felt good. I'm excited for next weekend."
Senior Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.) was Penn State's number three on the afternoon, following on Fischer's heels in 36th overall with a finishing time of 24:49. Classmate Chris Cipro(Harmony, Pa.) also ran well as the Nittany Lion number four, taking 53rd overall in 25:05.
Senior Owen Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) and sophomore Nick Scarpello(Jamison, Pa.) went five-six for the Nittany Lions, both finishing strong down the homestretch to take 68th, and 69th, respectively, with Dawson finishing in 25:19, and Scarpello going 25:20.
Freshman Wade Endress(Altoona, Pa.) also fared well in his first go-around at the 8K distance, rounding out the Nittany Lion top seven in 85th in 25:31. Junior Tom Luff (Emmaus, Pa.) finished just behind Endress in 88th in 25:31.
The Nittany Lions enjoyed an outstanding finish in the team standings, placing fifth with a 195-point total to improve upon their ninth-place effort at the last competition a year ago, and knock off solid squads from Iowa State (212 points), Cal Poly (233 points), Michigan State (246), California (255 points), and Duke (266 points).
No. 11 North Carolina State took home the team title with 96 points, upending No. 10 Portland in second with 114. Host Minnesota captured third place with 153, while Arizona State nosed the Nittany Lions for fourth with a total of 178.
"With the women, it was really a hard race to determine what was going on, and I think the result kind of shows that," said Sullivan on the women's results. "Eighth place is kind of one of those races where I don't feel like we had a particularly good day. Caitlin Lanecertainly showed the status that she wants to have this year, she went out and really ran tough. As a team, I think we're a little better than what the results showed."
Lane was out from the gun, running at the front of the pack throughout the entire competition. The senior would finish seventh overall, by dipping under 21:00 over the 6,000-meter course at 20:54. Lane showed marked improvement from a year ago, shaving well over minute over her 2010 finishing time, and improving her place finish by more than 50 spots.
"I actually felt really good," said Lane. "I didn't really know what to expect because I ran pretty horribly here last year, so I wanted to put myself in a good position and I was able to stay with the leaders for a big chunk of the race today, so it felt really good."
Classmate Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) finished 28th overall as the Lions' number two, going 21:21. Millhouse also improved upon her 2010 finishing, bettering her 2010 effort by more than 30 seconds. Junior Natalie Bower(Pleasant Unity, Pa.) was next in line, finishing 58th overall in 21:53.
Freshman Abbie Benson (Elma, N.Y.) and junior Brooklyne Ridder(Cincinnati, Ohio) provided a bang-bang finish to round out the Nittany Lion scoring, turning in 78th- and 79th-place finishes, respectively, both crossing in 22:07.
Sophomore Emily Giannotti (Coudersport, Pa.) and junior Lindsey Graybill(Macungie, Pa.) rounded out the Penn State top seven, in 96th and 123rd. Giannotti finished the 6K course in 22:15, while Graybill clocked 22:39.
The Nittany Lions will head straight back into another high-poweredd competition next weekend, traveling to South Bend, Ind., for the Notre Dame Invitational. Competition is set for Friday, September 30.