Oct. 15, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.: -
Just two weeks out from the Big Ten Championships on November 2, the Nittany Lion cross country teams will face their final test of the regular season on Friday, hosting the Penn State National, set for Friday, October 17 at the Blue/White Golf Course. The men's 5.2-mile race will kick things off at 10 a.m., followed by the women's 6,000-meter competition at 11 a.m. The event will feature a bevy of ranked teams in both the men's and women's races, and will also include some of the nation's most highly accomplished individuals. The Penn State National will also be the final home appearance for a host of Nittany Lion seniors, including senior men Brian Fuller (Camp Hill, Pa.), Dennis O'Connor (Philadelphia), Dennis Pollow (Ransomville, N.Y.), Tim Johnson (New Cumberland, Pa.), Tyler McCandless (Bath, Pa.), John Mahoney (Richboro, Pa.), and Teddy Quinn (Rush, N.Y.), who will aim for big finishes going into the upcoming postseason stretch.
Men's Race Preview:
This year's Penn State National will be a battle of many of the top tier programs in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Georgetown enters as the favorite for the team title, boasting a No. 8 ranking and several top individual talents, including Andrew Bumbalough, an All-America finisher in 2007, who led the Hoyas to 13th-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Also making their way to Happy Valley will be the Wildcats of Villanova, a perennial power on the East Coast as well as the nation's 28th-ranked team. Host Penn State has been solid thus far in 2008, finishing second at the Iona Meet of Champions and third at the Spiked Shoe Invitational last month. The Lions finished third at the Penn State National in 2007, behind talented squads from La Salle and Oklahoma. The Nittany Lions are currently ranked fifth in the Mid-Atlantic Region with senior Tyler McCandless leading the way as the Lions' number one runner in the past two competitions. The meet will also welcome out-of-region teams including Kentucky, Richmond, George Mason, and Rice. The No. 1-ranked team in Division III, Cortland State, as well as the No. 1 Canadian squad - Guelph - will also be in attendance.
Women's Race Preview:
West Virginia is one of the favorites for the team title, after winning the competition in 2007 and entering the competition with a No. 7 national ranking. Mountaineer Marie-Louise Asselin is also back after winning the individual title last fall, as well as teammates Keri Bland and Clara Grandt, who both finished among the top 10 individually last year. In fact, the top seven finishers from the Penn State National in 2007, are all scheduled to race in 2008, including Penn State standout Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio). Franek - a three-time NCAA All-American on the track - opened her 2008 cross country season two weeks ago, finishing fifth among an NCAA caliber field at the Bill Dellinger Invitational at the University of Oregon. Franek, who is also the reigning Big Ten Athlete of the Week, will lead the No. 20 Nittany Lions, who are coming off a third-place effort at Dellinger and a team title at the Iona Meet of Champions last month. Also in the hunt for the team title will be No. 19 Georgetown, No. 25 Wake Forest, and No. 28 Duke. Duke is led by last year's third-place finisher Maddie McKeever as well as freshman standout Carly Seymour. Also back in 2008 is last year's fifth-place finisher and multiple-time NCAA All-American Sarah Bowman from an always dangerous Tennessee squad, which includes highly-touted recruit Chanelle Price. among the newcomers expected to make a splash this year is rookie Neely Spence of Shippensburg, last year's fourth-place finisher at the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships.
10 a.m. - Men's 5.2 Miles
11 a.m. - Women's 6,000-Meters
Binghamton - Northeast No. 15
Bloomsburg - DII Atlantic, No. 6
Cortland State - DIII, No. 1
Georgetown - NCAA, No. 8; Mid-Atlantic, No. 1
Georgia State - South, No. 7
Guelph - CIS (Canada), No. 1
Kentucky - Southeast, No. 14
La Salle - Mid-Atlantic, No. 6
Lock Haven - DII, No. 25; Atlantic, No. 2
Messiah - DIII Mideast, No. 6
Mount St. Mary's
Penn State - Mid-Atlantic, No. 5
Rice - South Central, No. 11
Richmond - Southeast, No. 9
Shippensburg - DII Atlantic, No. 3
Slippery Rock - DII Atlantic, No. 2
St. Francis (Pa.)
Villanova - NCAA No. 28; Mid-Atlantic, No. 2
Yale - Northeast, No. 7
Duke - NCAA, No. 28; Southeast, No. 3
Georgetown - NCAA, No. 19; Mid-Atlantic, No. 3
Georgia State - South, No. 6
Guelph - CIS (Canada), No. 1
James Madison - Southeast, No. 12
Kent State - Great Lakes, No. 14
Kentucky - Southeast, No. 7
La Salle - Mid-Atlantic, No. 14
Mount St. Mary's
Penn State - NCAA, No. 20; Mid-Atlantic, No. 5
Quinnipiac - Northeast, No. 15
Richmond - Southeast, No. 8
Shippensburg - DII, No. 6; Atlantic, No. 1
St. Francis (Pa.)
Tennessee - NCAA, ORV; South, No. 4
West Virginia - NCAA, No. 7; Mid-Atlantic, No. 2
Nittany Lion Notes
Big Ten Honors:
For the fourth time in her decorated career, junior Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio) was been named Big Ten Cross Country Athlete of the Week on October 7, thanks to her top-five finish at the Bill Dellinger Invitational at the University of Oregon. Franek impressed in her opening race of the 2008 season, placing fifth in an NCAA-caliber field in 20:43.96.
Nittany Lion Number Ones:
Three Nittany Lions have been the Penn State frontrunner this season, including Tyler McCandless at the Iona Meet of Champions and Bill Dellinger Invitational. John Mahoney was the top Lion finisher and individual champion at the Lock Haven Dolan Duals, and freshman Vince McNally (Smoketown, Pa.) led the squad with a seventh-place effort at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational.
Winner, Winner, Winner:
The Nittany Lion women's team certainly displayed their fire power up front this season, as a Penn State athlete has captured top individual honors at the first three meets this season. Freshman Caitlin Lane got the ball rolling with a season-opening win at the Lock Haven Dolan Duals, while junior Cheryl Spring would earn her first collegiate win with victory at the Spiked Shoe Invitational. Leah Rosenfeld then won gold-medal honors at the Iona Meet of Champions.
At the Bill Dellinger Invitational:
Running through a consistent rain and muddy conditions, the Nittany Lion women's cross country team impressed among several of the nation's top programs, finishing third in an outstanding field at the Bill Dellinger Invitational at the Springfield Country Club on Saturday. Led by a fifth-place effort from junior Bridget Franek in her 2008 opener, the Nittany Lion women scored a total of 107 points, finishing third to No. 1 Oregon and 11th-ranked Arkansas, while upending No. 17 Colorado State, No. 23 BYU, as well as solid squads from Wake Forest and Portland. The Nittany Lion men's team, competing in a stellar field which included three of the NCAA's top seven-rated programs, managed a ninth-place finish, highlighted by a 36th-place finish from senior Tyler McCandless.
At the Iona Meet of Champions:
For the second time in as many weeks, a member of the Nittany Lion women's cross country team captured an individual victory, this time with redshirt sophomore Leah Rosenfeld topping a competitive field at the John "Paddy" Doyle Meet of Champions at historic Van Cortlandt Park. Entering the meet as the defending champions, the Nittany Lion women didn't disappoint, totaling 40 points to capture the runaway victory. Senior Tyler McCandless led an impressive second-place effort from the Penn State men, turning in a 14th-place standing.
At the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational:
The Nittany Lion cross country teams turned in impressive finishes in their first home competition at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational last Saturday, with the Penn State women taking runner-up honors, and the men's squad earning a third-place finish. Junior Cheryl Spring led the way for the women's team, posting her first collegiate victory, while freshman Vince McNally earned the top placing on the men's squad with a seventh-place standing.
At the Lock Haven Dolan Duals:
Freshman Caitlin Lane and senior John Mahoney led the way with individual wins as the Nittany Lion cross country teams opened their 2008 campaigns on August 29, competing at the Dolan Duals at Lock Haven University. Holding out several of their frontrunners, the Nittany Lions successfully displayed the depth within their squads, coming away with team wins in both the men's and women's races.
Lane Wins Big Ten Athlete of the Week:
Thanks to a winning performance at the Dolan Duals at Lock Haven, freshman Caitlin Lane was been named Big Ten Athlete of the Week on Sept. 3. Lane is the first Nittany Lion freshman to win the cross country citation since Bridget Franek captured the honor as a rookie in 2006. Lane shares this week's honor with Michigan's Danielle Tauro, who also posted an individual win over the weekend.
The Penn State National will serve as the Lions' final competition of the regular season before heading to Ann Arbor, Mich. for the Big Ten Cross Country Championships on November 2. Following the conference meet, the Lions will compete at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships at Princeton in hopes of gaining bids to the NCAA Championships.