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When the Nittany Lions react to the starter firing off the pistol on the starting line Saturday, it will be their first competitive action in three weeks. After solid performances on back-to-back weeks in the Dolan Duals at Lock Haven, Pa. on Sept. 4 and Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational at home on Sept. 11, Penn State runners have using this “break time” as advantageous practice opportunities to build on their running craft.
The first meets of the season allowed the Nittany Lion runners to get a gauge on their fitness levels. The Nittany Lions have built from each meet so far this season and look forward to the opportunity to run in a special meet like the Greater Louisville Classic. The idea for Penn State remains to perform better in each meet in order to run the best towards the end the season, when it ultimately matters the most. The cross country season is similar to sport of cross country itself, it’s not a sprint, it’s an endurance race. Individual goal setting has Penn State runners motivated for big meets like the Greater Louisville Classic.
The Greater Louisville Classic has been called the “Pre-Pre-Nationals” and one of meets to watch by the USTFCCCA. The “Pre-Pre-Nationals” term connects with the NCAA National Championships being hosted at the same site of E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky. on Nov. 21. Head coach John Gondak noted that this meet will be the first opportunity of the year for the Penn State cross country teams to earn points towards qualifying for 2015 NCAA Cross Country Championships in November.
That aspect makes the race even more of a special opportunity for the team. The opportunity to preview the course for the future could well be beneficial for Nittany Lion runners. “The goal is to run on the course, get a good feel for it and expose our student-athletes to it so, hopefully when we make the National Championships as a team later in November, we will have had some experience running on the course,” said Gondak.
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