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Cross Country To Take On National-Class Field at Louisville

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Tori Perri

Sept. 27, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion cross country squads will hit the road for the first time of the 2012 season this weekend, traveling to the Greater Louisville Classic, at Tom Sawyer Park. Penn State has sat idle over the past two weekends, after posting strong showings at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational on September 8. The competition, which gets underway at 9:30 a.m., EDT, on Saturday, will also serve as an NCAA preview with the Cardinals slated to host the NCAA Cross Country Championships in November.

Ranked squads from across the country will be making the trip to Louisville, including top-ranked Washington on the women's side, as well as No. 8 Vanderbilt. The women's squad, which goes into the weekend ranked 17th nationally, will also get a look at a several conference rivals, with fellow Big Ten squads No. 13 Michigan State, and No. 29 Wisconsin set to race. The men's race will be equally as competitive with a pair of Top 10 programs on the entry list with No. 6 Texas, and No. 8 Iona scheduled to compete. Michigan State will also send a men's squad, giving the Lions their first taste of Big Ten competition on the season.

The Nittany Lions have enjoyed two successful competitions throughout the early season, with junior Victoria Perri (Philadelphia, Pa.) leading the Lions to team victory at Spiked Shoe, thanks to runner-up effort individually. Classmate Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio) paced the squad with an individual win the week prior, helping the Nittany Lions to a 15-point perfect score at the Lock Haven Dolan Duals. The men's squad has also seen a pair of Lions out in front in their first two competitions, as Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) took top honors at Lock Haven, and Matt Fischer (Kennett Square, Pa.) turned in a second-place standing at Spiked Shoe. The Nittany Lions won the team title at Lock Haven, and took third in an outstanding field at Spiked Shoe.



About the Greater Louisville Classic ||
When: Saturday, September 29
Where: Tom Sawyer Park (Louisville, Ky.)
Host Website:
Timing Website:

Race Times (EDT):
9:30 a.m. - Men's 8K Gold (Varsity)
10:15 a.m. - Women's 5K Gold (Varsity)
10:45 a.m. - Men's 8K Blue (Open)
11:15 a.m. - Women's 5K Blue (Open)

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Competing Teams ||

Men's Gold Race (USTFCCCA Division I Rank; Region, Rank)
Auburn University (South, No. 4)
Belmont University (South, No. 13)
Bradley University
Bryan College
Colorado State University (Mountain, No. 9)
Columbia University (USTFCCCA, No. 28; Northeast, No. 3)
East Tennessee State University (South, No. 10)
Eastern Illinois University
Edinboro University
Ferris State University
Georgia Tech University (South, No. 6)
Grand Valley State University
Iona College (USTFCCCA, No. 8; Northeast, No. 1)
Lewis University
Marquette University (Great Lakes, No. 13)
Mercer University (South, No. 4)
Michigan State University (Great Lakes, No. 6)
Penn State University (Mid-Atlantic, No. 4)
Spring Arbor University
UNC Greensboro
University of Arizona (West, No., 5)
University of Georgia (USTFCCCA, ORV; South, No. 2)
University of Kentucky (Southeast, No. 15)
University of Louisville (Southeast, No. 6)
University of Mississippi (South, No. 9)
University of Missouri (Mid-West, No. 6)
University of Southern Indiana
University of St. Francis
University of Texas (USTFCCCA, No. 6, South Central, No. 1)
Washington University (Mo)
Western Kentucky University

Women's Gold Race (USTFCCCA Division I Rank; Region, Rank)
Arkansas State University
Auburn University (South, No. 13)
Ball State University
Belmont University (South, No. 10)
Bradley University (Mid-West, No. 10)
Brigham Young University (Mountain, No. 5)
Colorado State University (Mountain, No. 15)
Duke University (USTFCCCA, ORV; Southeast, No. 3)
Eastern Kentucky University (Southeast, No. 10)
Edinboro University
Georgia Tech University (South, No. 11)
Grand Valley State University
Iona College (Northeast, No. 9)
Lipscomb University
Marquette University (Great Lakes, No. 13)
Mercer University
Michigan State University (USTFCCCA, No. 14; Great Lakes, No. 2)
Penn State University (USTFCCCA, No. 17; Mid-Atlantic, No. 3)
Saint Louis University
UNC Greensboro
University of Arizona (USTFCCCA, No. 12; West, No. 4)
University of Arkansas (USTFCCCA, No. 10; South Central, No. 1)
University of Georgia (South, No. 6)
University of Kentucky (USTFCCCA, ORV; Southeast, No. 4)
University of Louisville
University of Mississippi (South, No. 4)
University of Missouri (Mid-West, No. 8)
University of Washington (USTFCCCA, No. 1; West, No. 1)
University of Wisconsin (USTFCCCA, No. 29; Great Lakes, No. 6)
Vanderbilt University (USTFCCCA, No. 8; South, No. 2)
Washington University (Mo)
West Virginia University (USTFCCCA, ORV; Mid-Atlantic, No. 4)
ORV - Others Receiving Votes in USTFCCCA National Poll

Nittany Lion Notes ||

NCAA Qualifying ...
Last weekend (September 21) opened the NCAA "At-Large" window, in which "points" can be earned over opposing schools, that could later count towards a team's bid to the NCAA Cross Country Championships. The NCAA accepts a total of 31 teams per gender to the NCAA Cross Country Championships each fall, with the top two teams from each of the nine Regional Championships races receiving automatic berths. The next 13 teams are chosen via an "at-large" system, based upon "points" earned throughout the season.

Recent Rankings ...
Both Nittany Lion squads are holding strong in the top tier of the USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Regional Rankings, with the women's team rated third in the latest poll, and Penn State men appearing in fourth. The Nittany Lion women trail only perennial powerhouses Georgetown and Villanova. The Big East pair has dominated the NCAA scene over the past three years, with Villanova winning the national crown in 2009 and 2010, and Georgetown clinching the NCAA title in 2011. The men's squad is rated behind Princeton, Georgetown, and Villanova, all of which are ranked in the national top 20.

Home Course Advantage ...
Junior Victoria Perri (Philadelphia, Pa.) and redshirt-sophomore Matt Fischer (Kennett Square, Pa.) paced the Nittany Lions individually despite rainy and windy conditions, each turning in runner-up finishes, Saturday at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational at the Blue-White Golf Courses. The Nittany Lion women's squad posted a dominant effort in the team standings, winning the competition with a 25-point total, thanks to five finishers in the top 10, and seven in the top 16. Penn State also fared well on the men's side, taking third overall in a solid early-season field.

Early Big Ten Honors ...
Following victories at the Dolan Duals at Lock Haven last weekend, redshirt-freshman Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) and junior Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio) have been named Big Ten Cross Country Athletes of the Week. The Nittany Lions provided a dominate effort in the team standings with both teams picking up victories over Lock Haven, including a 15-50 sweep by the women's squad.

Off and Running ...
Redshirt freshman Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) and junior Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio) led the way with individual titles, pacing the Nittany Lion cross country squads to a pair of team victories at the annual Dolan Duals at Lock Haven University on Sept. 31. Simko headed up a perfect effort from the women's squad, which saw the Nittany Lions better the Bald Eagles, 15-50. Simko gapped the field down the homestretch of the 4,000-meter course, finishing in 14:16. Teammate Tori Perri (Philadelphia, Pa.) was next in line, finishing in 14:20 for second overall. The men's squad was just as successful, bettering their competitors, 25-30, with Creese picking up the individual victory in 18:12 over 6,000-meters, in his first cross country appearance in a Nittany Lion uniform. The Nittany Lions covered three of the top five finishing spots, with junior Nick Scarpello (Jamison, Pa.), and Tom Luff (Emmaus, Pa.) taking third and fourth, respectively, in 18:36 and 18:37.

Nittany Lions in Charge ...
A quintet of seniors will serve at Penn State's team captains for the 2012 seasons, with 2011 NCAA qualifiers Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.), Lindsey Graybill (Macungie, Pa.), and Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio) captaining the women's squad, and Tyler Corkedale (West Windsor, N.J.), and Tom Luff (Emmaus, Pa.) leading the men's team.

Next Time Out ...
The Nittany Lions will train through the next few weeks before traveling to the Greater Louisville Classic at the University of Louisville on September 29. The Cardinals are also set to host the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships on November 17.

Mark Your Calendars ...
The road to the NCAA Championships will begin in Happy Valley, as the Nittany Lions are slated to host the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships on Friday, November 9. Regional races are set to begin at 12:00 p.m.

Looking Ahead ...
The trip to Louisville will also serve as an "NCAA Preview" for the Nittany Lions, as the Cardinals are set to host the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Saturday, November 17. The race will be a new experience for all competitors, as Indiana State has played host to the championships for the last decade. The event returns to Terre Haute in 2013.


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