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Oct. 14, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite a driving rain, and extremely muddy conditions, the Nittany Lion men took top honors in the team standings, Friday at the Penn State National. The women also held their own in a challenging field, placing third overall. Senior Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) led the men with a third-place effort, while senior Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) placed fourth individually in the women's race, with classmate Caitlin Lane(Greenwich, N.Y.) following on her heels in fifth overall.
Dawson, who placed second among collegiate competitors behind Lehigh's Evans Kosgei, led the charge on the men's side, finishing his final-career tour of the 5.2-mile course in 26 minutes, 19 seconds, to score his second-consecutive top three finish at the Penn State National. Next in line was fellow senior Vince McNally(Paoli, Pa.), who finished seventh overall and sixth in team scoring in 26:35.
"The guys raced extremely well in putting three guys in the top 10," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. "Although it was a large field - about 25 teams or so - there were really only two or three teams that were racing pretty competitively with us, and I think we held them off well."
Redshirt-freshman Matt Fischer (Kennett Square, Pa.) also turned in a top-10 standing, finishing in 26:49 to claim 10th overall, and eighth among team competitors. Also making his final appearance on the Blue/White Golf Courses was senior Chris Cipro(Harmony, Pa.), who placed 15th overall in 27:00 as the Lions' fourth man.
Recording an outstanding effort as the Penn State number five was freshman Wade Endress(Altoona, Pa.), who finished 20th overall as the top true freshman in the entire field. Endress crossed in 27:05 in his first-collegiate appearance on the Nittany Lions' home course.
"I was really please with Matt Fischer's race as a redshirt-freshman, a top 10 finish is a nice race for him," said Sullivan. "Kyle and Vince showed their prominence again with great races up front, then we had some really good breakout races from the rest of them. I thought Wade Endressreally looks to be coming into form as well."
Sophomore Nick Scarpello(Jamison, Pa.) and junior Tom Luff (Emmaus, Pa.) capped off the Lions' scoring effort, placing 27th and 28th overall, with finishing times of 27:16, and 27:17, respectively.
The Lions took home the team title, totaling 47 points to edge Grand Valley State - the No. 3 team in Division II - with 55. In-state rival Duquesne place third with 77 points, while Lehigh took fourth with 142, and Montana State rounded out the top five with 177. Unattached competitor Ryan Blood took the individual title in 26:13.
The women's team, which was ranked 20th in the latest USTFCCCA poll, also enjoyed an outstanding showing up front, with Millhouse and Lane turning in a four-five effort with finishing times of 21:14, and 21:17, respectively, over the 6,000-meter course. Junior Natalie Bower(Pleasant Unity, Pa.) also mounted an impressive finish as the Lions' number three, placing 12th overall in 21:43.
"I'm very disappointed with the ladies, I just think we're a better team than we raced again today," said Sullivan on the women's results. "We need to show up and execute. We almost did that today, and again got phenomenal races out of Kara and Caitlin up top, and Natalie had one of the better races I've seen from her in her career. But the women still aren't quite showing up with what we need."
Sophomore Emily Giannotti (Coudersport, Pa.) would score a top 25 finish as Penn State's number-four finisher, turning in a 22nd -place standing in 22:11. Also running well was freshman Abbie Benson(Elma, N.Y.), who placed 34th in 22:26 in her first race on the Blue/White Course.
Junior Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio) and freshman Katie Rodden(Ardmore, Pa.) both posted top 50 efforts to round out the Nittany Lion top seven, with Ridder taking 44th in 22:48, and Rodden placing 50th in 22:50.
"They will be a lot riding on the Big Ten Championships for the ladies," continued Sullivan. "But I think we're capable. I really, really do think we're capable."
West Virginia went one-two on their way to the team title, with Kate Harrison and Kaitlyn Gillespie finishing in 20:50, and 20:53. The Mountaineers totaled 45 points, to stay ahead of Connecticut in second with 70, and Penn State in third with 77. No. 26 Duke placed fourth in the team standings, with Grand Valley State taking fifth with 171.
The Nittany Lions will now hit the championship trail, heading to the Big Ten Championships at the University of Illinois. Race day is set for Sunday, October 30, at the University of Illinois Arboretum.