Sept. 25, 2010
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.: September 25, 2010 - Junior Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) turned in a 13th-place finish individually, leading the Nittany Lion men to a ninth-place finish in a national-class field, Saturday at the Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota. The Penn State women's squad, which is currently ranked 27th in the latest USTFCCCA rankings, would also end up ninth in the team standings, paced by 34th-place effort from sophomore Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.).
"The Roy Griak Invitational was an outstanding competition and a wonderful celebration of Coach Griak's career, and legacy at Minnesota," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. "It was an honor to be there for such a great display of the sport of cross country."
Dawson and the rest of the Nittany Lion pack were out well from the gun, positioning themselves near the front of a field over well over 200 athletes. The junior ran consistently among the top 15 competitors throughout the race, winding up in 13th overall, clocking 24:41 for the 8,000-meter course. Dawson was also the second finisher among Big Ten competitors, with Minnesota's Ben Blankenship turning in a 10th-place finish.
"Kyle did a great job - having been ill the night before - it's impressive that he was able to go out and compete at such a high level and hold on for 13th," said Sullivan.
Fellow junior Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.), who was a All-Big Ten Second Team finisher a year ago, also held his own near the front of the pack, claiming a top 25 standing in 22nd overall, finishing in 24:51. Junior Chris Cipro (Harmony, Pa.) was next in line for the Lions, coming in 58th overall - 55th in the team scoring - with a finishing time of 25:28. Sophomore Danny Pawola (Naperville, Ill.) finished just behind Cipro, crossing the finish line in 25:37, which was good for 71st overall and 63rd towards the team score.
Senior Ryan Foster (Tasmania, Australia) ran as the Lions' fifth and final scorer, turning in a 79th-place finish overall - 68th in scoring. Foster provided an outstanding effort over the closing stages of the race, passing 30 competitors over the last 3,000-meters, moving from 109th at the 5K mark, and finishing in 79th in 25:43.
Senior Owen Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) and sophomore Tom Luff (Emmaus, Pa.) were the Lions' sixth and seventh finishers, with Dawson coming in 100th overall and 81st in scoring (26:00), while Luff came in 127 overall (26:20), and 104th among scoring competitors. Freshman Nick Scarpello (Jamison, Pa.) also competed for the Lions, placing 160th.
As has been the case throughout the early season, the Nittany Lion women provided a strong display of pack running, posting a 35-second spread between their first and fifth finishers. Bower ran as the Lions' number one for the first time in her career, placing 34th overall in 21:54. Junior Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) also dipped under the 22-minute mark, finishing just six seconds behind Bower in 21:59 to place 41st.
"I'm really proud of Natalie's performance today," stated Sullivan. "Her breaking through as our number one runner today really proves the depth we have on our women's team."
Sophomore Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio) and junior Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) weren't far behind as the Lions' third and fourth runners, with Ridder coming in 54th overall with a finishing time of 22:12, and Lane placing 61st, crossing the line in 22:19. Senior Paige Anderson (Carlisle, Pa.) crossed fifth, placing 71st overall, and 70th in the team scoring with a finishing time of 22:29.
Lion freshman Emily Giannotti (Coudersport, Pa.), and senior Maura Ryan (Doylestown, Pa.) finished as Penn State's six and seven, finishing in 22:40, and 22:43, respectively, enough for 82nd and 88th overall. Senior Katie Shelley (Columbia, Pa.) and sophomore Lindsey Graybill (Macungie, Pa.) rounded out the Lion lineup, placing 147th and 152nd, respectively.
"Our Lions did a good job in this early season, high caliber competition," continued Sullivan. "While two top 10 finishes are not satisfying, they show that we still have a lot of potential to succeed this season. We've still a lot of work to do, but I'm excited as the season continues to unfold."
The Penn State men totaled 221 points for ninth, just off Colorado State in eighth with 206, and Iowa State in seventh with 200. No. 19 Duke won the tightly contested men's race with an 83-point total, followed by North Carolina State with 92 and New Mexico with 93. Arizona's Stephen Sambu took the individual title in 23:40.
The Lions scored 260 points on the women's side - also finishing ninth. No. 24 Arizona ran away with the women's title with 76 points, ahead of New Mexico with 102, and Iowa State with 113. North Carolina State freshman Laura Hoer took top honors individually, finishing in 20:39.
Penn State will be on the road again next weekend, traveling to South Bend, Ind., for the high-powered Notre Dame Invitational, which is set to included top ranked programs from around the country. Action is scheduled for Friday, October 1.