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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions closed out their regular season today on their home turf as they hosted the Penn State National Open.
The women's team came away with a win against some tough competition including Villanova, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State. This last regular season win is a great way to head into the championship season.
"After this meet, we'll be going to Big Tens in two weeks I believe. I just kinda hope that momentum continues," said senior Jill Hunsberger. "I think it's really important that especially with the top five we know how to win, we know like maybe I don't feel great that day, but there's a girl from this team that I need to get ahead of, and that's what we need to do at Big Tens."
"Winning at home is always great. This is a great course and when we can put it all together on our home course it's awesome," sophomore Kathryn Munks added. "Looking forward, like Jill said, it kinda shows that we know how to win, we know how to get our top five mobilized and I think that going into Big Tens it gives us a confidence boost."
Hunsberger finished second overall with a time of 20:22, the ninth-fastest time in the Penn State National Open history. Munks finished third overall with a time of 20:23. Following that top two was freshman Alison Willingmyre at 20:34, senior Greta Lindsley at 20:37 and sophomore Danae Rivers at 21:05.
With all their runners in the top 25, the women took home the win on their tough home course. For the seniors, this was their last time racing on their turf, but winning their last home meet ever was the icing on the cake.
"It's definitely bittersweet. It's a really hard course, but it's my home course and it's my last one. Personally, I had my best time here ever, so it's good to go out on top with that," Lindsley said. "As a team, we did really well. We came in with targets on our back, but we didn't let that get to our head. We came out, competed, and came out with the win, so it feels really good, but definitely bittersweet."
"It's a bittersweet moment. I had a fun ride, and I couldn't have done it without the teammates that I got to spend the last four years with," senior Victoria Crawford added.
"It's super exciting. I mean, every time it's at the home course, I think the goal is to always win, you know at our home turf. Just to do it my last time ever it's super bittersweet. I'm very happy to be closing a chapter of my life, but it's also home," Hunsberger said on her final home meet.
Having it be their last big meet before heading into Big Tens, the women feel more confident as they prepare for the championship stretch during the next two weeks. They feel like their win will help them know exactly how to race come Big Tens in Indiana.
"Definitely motivating. It's just like any other race, even if we did bad today, everyone knows that it's championship time. It's ready to go, we've been training for this and we're ready. It's just time to make some magic and put our hard work and just try to do our best. It'll be fun," Lindsley said.
Head Coach John Gondak knows that with all the hard efforts that showed today, the women will be more than ready to compete at the championship level.
"Last regular season meet at here at home, celebrated senior day and thought that both teams competed extremely well. I'm very pleased for the women to come away with the win over a great Villanova team. So with championship time around the corner all you hope to do is week in and week out build confidence and I think today was another confidence boost for them as they move toward Big Tens in two weeks," he said.
The Big Ten Championships will take place on October 29th in Bloomington, Indiana.