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Sept. 24, 2012
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa- Last year, the Penn State men's cross country team finished the season with a bad taste in their mouths, after they didn't qualify for the NCAA Championships.
It is a feeling that redshirt sophomore Matt Fischer is not intent on repeating for the second-straight year.
"The biggest thing for us is to make it to Nationals as a team," said Fischer. "Its something that we missed out on last year, unfortunately."
Fischer and the team hopes to build on a strong outing at home earlier this season.
After sitting out the squad's first meet at Lock Haven, Fischer led the lions with a second place finish at the Harry Groves Spike Shoe Invitational, a performance that he expected from himself.
"I expected to do well," said Fischer. "It's a small field and it came against guys that we race against pretty often so I knew what to expect."
With the Nittany Lions set to race again next Saturday at Louisville, Fischer stressed how excited he is to get back to competition.
"Its definitely exciting," said Fischer. "We get a chance to score some at-large points for later in the season."
One aspect about the remainder of the season that Fischer is particularly excited about is the opportunity to compete on a larger scale.
"It's exciting to get out there and see some bigger meets," said Fischer. "It's a fun way to start up the season again by traveling."
While Fischer has gotten off to a hot start this year, he maintained that he is looking to continue this type of performance for the rest of the season.
"I want to keep a level performance throughout the season," said Fischer. "I felt I was a little inconsistent last year."
While Fischer's redshirt freshmen campaign consisted of him finishing in the top seven for the Nittany Lions in every meet he competed in, he still feels as if he has made major strides entering this year.
"I have a lot more confidence this year," said Fischer. "I definitely have a better handle on the way to train."
Fischer was quick to attribute his ability to compete to the training he put forth this summer.
"Last season I trained too hard during the summer but this season I figured out how to have a better summer," said Fischer. "There's a fine line between quality and quantity."
Now entering his second competitive cross country season, Fischer feels as though he has a firm grasp on how to toe that line.
"You don't want to go too hard in the summer but you do want to keep your mileage up," said Fischer. "I think I did a good job keeping my training steady this summer."
Training was just one element that Fischer had to adjust to when he made the decision to redshirt his freshmen season. Looking back, he feels as though he has come a long way.
"It's a whole different atmosphere with longer distances in college," said Fischer. "You just have to build on it every year and stay consistent and it'll take you to a higher level."
Along with making his own adjustments, Fischer credited head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan for the influence she has had on both him and his teammates.
"She brings a great atmosphere that reverberates to the rest of the team," said Fischer. "We build off of what she preaches."
This atmosphere has created what Fischer believes is a brotherhood among the cross country runners.
"I can't imagine any team in the NCAA being closer than we are," said Fischer. "We're just like a family."
Moving forward, Fischer believes the Nittany Lion's can be successful not just this season, but also for many seasons to come.
"We want to create a culture where we can compete at the National Championships every year," said Fischer. "We want to be the team that starts that tradition."
Though he wants to excel individually, Fischer is completely focused on the goals of the team, not his own personal ones.
"I just want to do whatever I can for the team to be as good as we can be," said Fischer.
However this season eventually turns out, Fischer is glad that he is a Nittany Lion.
"Penn State is the greatest," said Fischer. "I couldn't imagine going to any other school."