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Oct. 27, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Nittany Lion cross country teams will put it all on the line on Sunday, competing against outstanding fields at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships at the University of Illinois Arboretum. Both the women's and men's squads, which both placed fourth at the 2010 Big Ten meet, look to contend for solid finishes, with the No. 26 Nittany Lion women entering the weekend as one of four-ranked teams in the conference. The Penn State men, who have hovered just outside of the national top 30 all season, will also run into a quartet of nationally-rated programs, including No. 2 Wisconsin.
The Badgers are the odds on favorite in the men's race, having claimed the last 12 Big Ten cross country team titles. Indiana also boasts a top 10 ranking on the men's side, at No. 7 in the latest USTFCCCA poll. The Spartans of Michigan State - last year's team champions - look to have the edge in the women's race, entering the weekend as the top ranked team in the field at No. 15. Michigan is also in the top 20, as the Wolverines are currently ranked 19th.
The Nittany Lions have relied on their senior leaders all fall, as the women have been led by a one-two punch from seniors Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.), and Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.), who went four-five in a highly competitive Penn State National field earlier this month. The men's team have also been propelled by a duo of swift-running seniors in Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.), and Vince McNally(Paoli, Pa.), who both earned all-conference finishes at the conference meet a year ago.
The Penn State quartet has fared well in the Lions' high-level meets throughout the season, as Lane and Dawson both scored top 10 finishes at the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational at Minnesota in September, while Millhouse led the women's contingent with a 12th-place finish at the high-powered Notre Dame Invitational. McNally has also been running well on the men's side, as well as redshirt-freshman Matt Fischer(Kennett Square, Pa.). McNally and Fischer both scored top 10 finishes to help the Lions' to a first-place finish at the Penn State National.
The women's squad also returns a pair of all-conference finishers from a year ago in juniors Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio), and Natalie Bower(Pleasant Unity, Pa.), who were ninth and 14th, respectively at the 2010 conference meet. In fact, the Nittany Lion women field an extremely seasoned contingent, as five members of this year's Big Ten travel roster were members of the Lions' conference title team in 2009.
The Nittany Lion men will also send a wealth of experience to the line on Sunday, returning seven of nine members of the fourth-place squad in 2010. Dawson and McNally have also earned a pair of all-conference finishes a piece over their careers, with Dawson earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors via a fifth-place overall finish in 2008.
About the Big Ten Championships...
When: Sunday, October 30
Where: University of Illinois Arboretum (Champaign, Ill.)
Race Times/Distances: 10:45 a.m., CDT - Men's 8,000-Meters; 11:45 a.m., CDT - Women's 6,000-Meters
University of Illinois Host Website
Meet Coverage at Flotrack.org
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Nittany Lion Notes ...
At the 2010 Big Ten Championships: Propelled by top ten individual finishes from sophomore Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio), and junior Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.), both the Nittany Lion men's and women's cross country squads turned in fourth-place finishes in the team standings, at the 2010 Big Ten Cross Country Championships at Zimmer Cross Country Course. Ridder's ninth-place effort was good for All-Big Ten Second Team status, with classmate Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.) also earning all-conference recognition, thanks to a 14th-place standing. Dawson claimed his second-career all-conference certificate via an eighth-place effort individually, with junior Vince McNally(Paoli, Pa.) followed in 13th, also posting the second all-conference performance of his career.
At the Penn State National: Despite a driving rain, and extremely muddy conditions, the Nittany Lion men took top honors in the team standings, on October 14, 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.
At the Notre Dame Invitational: Running in rainy and windy conditions, senior Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) turned in a 12th-place finish individually, leading the Nittany Lion women's squad to a fourth-place standing at the Adidas Notre Dame, Friday at Notre Dame Golf Course. The women's squad also knocked off a pair of ranked teams in the effort, upending No. 22 and regional foe Princeton, as well as No. 29 BYU. The Nittany Lions finished 14th in the men's standings, paced by a 27th-place effort from senior Kyle Dawson(Coatesville, Pa.).
At the Roy Griak Invitational: Led by top 10 efforts from seniors Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) and Caitlin Lane(Greenwich, N.Y.), the Nittany Lion cross country squads both tallied solid finishes in a national-class field, on September 24, at the Roy Griak Invitational at Les Bolstad Golf Course, at the University of Minnesota. Both Nittany Lion number ones improved upon their 2010 Griak finishes, with Lane turning in a seventh-place effort to lead the women, and Dawson taking eighth overall in a talented men's field. Dawson's finish would propel the Nittany Lion men to a fifth-place finish in the team standings, while Lane paced the women's contingent to an eighth-place standing.
At the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational: The Nittany Lion cross country squads hosted a quartet of competitions last Saturday, including college and high school races, at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational at the Blue-White Golf Courses. Sophomore Lucia Sofo (State College, Pa.) was the top finisher on the women's side, while junior Colin Anderson (Northport, N.Y.) led the men's efforts. Sofo paced the women's team, placing 25th in team scoring with a time of 22:51 over the 6,000-meters course. Sophomore Marta Klebe (Chesterbrook, Pa.) finished on her heels, coming in 26th in team scoring - also crossing in 22:51. Anderson scored a top 10 finish in the men's 5.2-mile race, covering the course in 27:07, as the Nittany Lions' number one. Sophomore Colin Baker (Haddonfield, N.J.) also raced for the Nittany Lions, coming in 23rd in 27:34. Redshirt-freshman Shawn Quinn(Ambler, Pa.) crossed as Penn State's number three, placing 27th overall in 28:09.
At the Lock Haven Dolan Duals: Seniors Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) and Kyle Dawson(Coatesville, Pa.) both captured individual titles, leading the Nittany Lion cross country squads to a pair of one-through-five perfect scores at the annual Dolan Duals at the Lock Haven University on September 2. Both Nittany Lion captains also posted course records in the effort, with Lane breaking the tape at 13:26.52 over the 4,000-meter women's course, and Dawson running 17:36.40 to win the men's 6,000-meters. Lane also recorded her fourth-straight victory at Lock Haven, completing a four-year sweep at the Dolan Duals.
Big Ten Honors: Seniors Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) and Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) have been named Big Ten Runners of the Week following winning efforts at the Dolan Duals, on September 2, at West Branch Cross Country Course, at Lock Haven University. Both seniors paced their respective Nittany Lion squads to 15-50 "perfect" score victories over Lock Haven, each setting course records in the process. Dawson was also named Penn State Athlete of the Week for his efforts.