Oct. 24, 2007
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.: October 24, 2007 - Looking to build on already outstanding fall campaigns, the Penn State men's and women's cross country teams will make the trip to Columbus, Ohio, for the Big Ten Cross Country Championships, to be held at the Ohio State University Golf Club, on Sunday, October 28. The Nittany Lions are poised and ready to run this weekend, but will have a challenging race ahead of them, as the Big Ten Conference is as strong as ever this season, with seven women's teams and three men's squads ranked in the nation's top 30.
About the Meet:
What: Big Ten Cross Country Championships
Where: Columbus, Ohio (The Ohio State University Golf Club)
When: Sunday, October 28; Women - 10:45 a.m.; Men - 11:30 a.m.
Race Distances: Women - 6K; Men - 8K
Michigan (No. 10)
Minnesota (No. 22)
Wisconsin (No. 6)
Illinois (No. 10)
Iowa (No. 18)
Michigan (No. 6)
Michigan State (No. 7)
Minnesota (No. 8)
Penn State (No. 26)
Wisconsin (No. 21)
Results and complete Penn State recap will be posted at www.GoPSUsports.com on Sunday afternoon. Check www.BigTen.org for results following the competition.
The No. 26 Nittany Lion women will have their hands full on Sunday, battling the competition in arguably the toughest conference in the country. Seven of the 11 Big Ten teams are ranked among the nation's top 30, including four squads in the top 10 alone. Perennial power Michigan (No. 6) looks to be the favorite once again, coming into the meet with five-consecutive Big Ten Championship wins. Also running exceptionally this fall have been No. 6 Michigan State, No. 8 Minnesota, and No. 10 Illinois. Individually, there will likely be a tight pack in contention for the conference crown, including Iowa's Diana Nukuri, and Illinois' Angela Bizzari, who both recorded top five finishes at the elite Pre-National Invitational two weeks ago. Penn State's Bridget Franek, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year during the outdoor track season, will also look to run in the front pack, along with Michigan's Erin Webster, last year's individual champion, and teammate Nicole Edwards, Michigan State's Alyssa McKaig, Wisconsin's Hanna Grinaker, and Minnesota's Jamie Cheever.
Franek has led the Lions in every meet this season, including a pair of individual victories. Franek, a two-time Big Ten Runner of the Week honoree this season, has been outstanding in her first two seasons with the Lions, finishing as the teams' top place winner in all ten competitions of her career. Redshirt freshman Leah Rosenfeld has wasted no time in making an impact on the Nittany Lion scoring, finishing in the Lion top five in every meet this year, and running as the Lions' number two at both the Iona Meet of Champions and National Invitational. Rounding out the Lion top five are juniors Claire Berryman, and Claire Percival, and sophomore Cheryl Spring. Berryman, Percival and Spring have been solid all season, and are poised for big-time performances at the conference meet. The Lion women have showed steady improvement throughout the season, finishing with a :37-spread between one and five at the Penn State National Invitational - the team's tightest pack of the season.
Sixth-ranked and 10-time defending champion Wisconsin is the favorite for the men's team title, but will be following closely by No. 10 Michigan. The race will also include a talented team from Minnesota, which enters the weekend ranked 22nd. Last year's individual winner Chris Rombough of Minnesota, as well as 2006 runner-up Stuart Eagon of Wisconsin, will likely vie for the conference title, with Wisconsin's Matt Withrow, and Michigan's Mike Woods also in contention for the win.
The Penn State men have had an outstanding fall thus far, thanks to a stellar one-two punch from junior Brian Fuller, and freshman Lucas Zarzeczny. Both athletes have won Big Ten Runner of the Week recognition this season, and have switched off as the Lions' number-one throughout the fall. Coming on strong over the last several weeks has been junior John Mahoney, who is coming off an excellent showing at the Penn State National Invitational, where he was the Lions' third finisher. Juniors Dennis O'Connor and Tyler McCandless have also been consistent members of the Lion top five this year, showing steady improvement in every race. The Nittany Lion men have been running as a tight pack all season, finishing with a 29-second gap between one and five at their most recent competition.
:: Nittany Lion Notes ::
National Notice :: Current Rankings
Thanks to an outstanding second-place finish at the Penn State National Invitational on October 12, the Nittany Lion women's cross country team has moved to No. 26 in this week's United States Track and Field Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA) rankings. The ranking is the highest for the Lions since being rated No. 23 during the 2004 season.
At the Penn State National Invitational :: National Recap
In undoubtedly its toughest competition of the season thus far, the 30th-ranked Nittany Lion women's cross country team, posted a second-place finish among an elite 25-team field at the Penn State National Invitational, on a cool and windy Friday morning (Oct. 12) at the Blue and White Golf Courses. The Penn State men also had a solid showing, finishing third out of 20 teams. Sophomore Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio) was the Lions' top finisher on the women's side with a sixth-place effort, while freshman Lucas Zarzeczny (Pittsburgh, Pa.) led the men's team with a 12th-place standing.
At the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational :: Spiked Shoe Recap
The 29th-ranked Nittany Lion women's cross country team won its second team title in as many weeks, capturing top honors at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, Saturday at Penn State Blue/White Golf Course. Sophomore Bridget Franek led the Lion women with an individual win, while junior Brian Fuller cruised to victory on the men's side, helping the Lions to a second-place finish. Fuller notched his second win of the season, as well as the second of his career, with a time of 23:39 for 5.2 miles. Franek clocked 21:02 to break the tape on the 6,000-meter course - the second-fastest time ever run at the Spiked Shoe event. Fuller is the 10th Nittany Lion to win the individual men's title in the 29-year history of the Spiked Shoe. Freshman Lucas Zarzeczny took second overall with a furious finishing kick, running 26:48.
Second Sweep :: Nittany Lion cross country standouts Bridget Franek and Lucas Zarzeczny were named Big Ten Runners of the Week on Tuesday, Sept. 25, the second citation of the season for Franek, and the first-career honor for Zarzeczny. It is also the second time this fall that the Nittany Lions have swept the conference's weekly awards.
At the Iona Meet of Champions :: Iona Recap
The Nittany Lion women's cross country team posted a first-place finish, while the men's team managed a third-place effort at the John "Paddy" Doyle Meet of Champions, hosted by Iona College at Van Cortlandt Park. Leading the way for the Lions were sophomore Bridget Franek and freshman Lucas Zarzeczny. Franek finished the 6000-meter course in 21:51.0, good for fifth overall and third in the team scoring. Turning in an outstanding effort was redshirt-freshman Leah Rosenfeld, who ran 22:17.6 in her first collegiate 6K, to finish ninth. Zarzeczny ran a sensational race in his first-career 8000-meters to place eighth overall with a time of 25:35.2. Tyler McCandless and Dennis O'Connor ran two-three for the Lions, finishing in 17th, and 19th, in 25:58.2, 26:00.2, respectively.
Athlete Accolades :: Both Bridget Franek and Brian Fuller were named Big Ten Runners of the Week following their outstanding performances at the Lock Haven Dolan Duals on August 31. Franek would also be named Penn State Female Athlete of the Week for her efforts.
Captains Named :: After a team vote, senior Teddy Quinn, and juniors Tyler McCandless and Brian Fuller were declared captains for the Nittany Lion men's team, while senior Sonja Hinish will captain the women's squad.
At the Lock Haven Dolan Duals :: Lock Haven Recap
Earlier this month, the Lions dominated the competition at the Dolan Duals at Lock Haven, as both teams posted perfect scores behind winning efforts from Franek and Fuller. On the women's side, Spring, Rosenfeld, and Claire Percival finished within 12 seconds of one another in the 2-3-4 slots. Junior Kathryn Fitzgerald rounded out the Lion top five. Fuller and Quinn posted the one-two finish in the men's race, with Zarzeczny finishing less than two seconds behind. Dennis Pollow and Dennis O'Connor closed out the scoring on the men's side, as the Nittany Lions finished with just a 20-second gap between their first and fifth runners.
Following the conference meet, the Nittany Lions will vie for bids to the NCAA Championships at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships on November 10, at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, Pa.