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Sept. 30, 2011
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Running in rainy and windy conditions, senior Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) turned in a 12th-place finish individually, leading the Nittany Lion women's squad to a fourth-place standing at the Adidas Notre Dame, Friday at Notre Dame Golf Course. The women's squad also knocked off a pair of ranked teams in the effort, upending No. 22 and regional foe Princeton, as well as No. 29 BYU. The Nittany Lions finished 14th in the men's standings, paced by a 27th-place effort from senior Kyle Dawson(Coatesville, Pa.).
"We had a great effort from the women's team," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. "Bouncing back from a moderate performance at Minnesota, we shook the rust off and ran tough against some really good competition."
Millhouse cruised to a solid finish in an outstanding field, breaking the tape in 17:18 for the 5,000-meter course, shaving nearly 20 seconds off her 2010 Notre Dame performance. Classmate Caitlin Lane(Greenwich, N.Y.) wasn't far behind, finishing 14th overall in 17:20. Lane also enjoyed stellar improvement from a year ago, cutting 20 seconds, and over 50 places off her 2010 result.
Next in line was junior Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.), who finished 44th overall in 17:47 as the Nittany Lion number three. Running strong as Penn State's fourth finisher was freshman Abbie Benson(Elma, N.Y.), who turned in a top 50 effort via a 48th-place standing in 17:48. Benson mounted an impressive effort for a rookie, finishing as the fourth-best freshman in the entire field.
Sophomore Emily Giannotti (Coudersport, Pa.) was the Lions' number-five finisher, turning in a 70th-place race by dipping under the 18:00-minute barrier with a finishing time of 17:57. Junior Lindsey Graybill (Macungie, Pa.) was the next Nittany Lion finisher, placing 114th in 18:20, while freshman Katie Rodden(Ardmore, Pa.) rounded out the top seven in 120th in 18:23.
Florida State topped the women's field with a 54-point total, while Arkansas claimed runner-up honors with 116. New Mexico scored 164 points for third, edging the Nittany Lions in fourth with 188. Host Notre Dame rounded out the top five with 210, while BYU took sixth with 254, and Clemson finished in seventh in 265. Regional rival Princeton came in eighth with 265.
"Still not quite a perfect day for the women, as Brooklyne (Ridder) is still fighting an illness," said Sullivan. "But we showed we are a strong team at this level, and I hope we continue to grow throughout October and are ready to go at championship time."
Competing on a muddy and rain-soaked five-mile course, Dawson placed 27th overall, crossing the finishing line in 24:46. Fellow senior Chris Cipro (Harmony, Pa.) ran an outstanding race as the Lions' number two finishing 55th in 24:59, just ahead of teammate Vince McNally(Paoli, Pa.), who placed 56th, also crossing in 24:59. Cipro was yet another Nittany Lion to show solid improvement from the Notre Dame competition last season, bettering his 2010 finish by nearly 30 spots.
"On the men, we took a gamble in racing back to back weeks and it just didn't pay off," said Sullivan on the men's finish. "It's tough to compete on a demanding course like Minnesota, and try and run at this level six days later. Last year it paid off, this year it didn't. The team was tired and just not physically recovered from Minnesota."
Sophomore Nick Scarpello (Jamison, Pa.) took 96th overall, and 93rd in team scoring as the Lions' number four, finishing in 25:27, while senior Owen Dawson(Coatesville, Pa.) placed 115th overall, and 111th in the team rankings, going 25:37.
"It was a disappointing result on the men's side, but there were some bright spots, especially a great run from team captain Chris Cipro," said Sullivan. "Now we'll go home and get rested, recovered and worked out. I believe we are a really good team, and I hope that we come together for championship season."
The Nittany Lions placed 14th in the 26-team field with 343 points. BYU ran away with the men's race with 46, followed by Florida State with 93, and Princeton with 138.
Sophomore Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio) was the Nittany Lions' top finisher in the "open" race, placing 10th overall in 18:37. Meanwhile, sophomore Colin Baker(Haddonfield, N.J.) led the men in the open section, finishing 17th overall in 26:16.
The Lions will take next weekend off before hosting the Penn State National, on Friday, October 14.