Nittany Lions Off To Madison For Big Ten Cross Country Championships
Oct. 29, 2010
MADISON, Wisc. - Looking to ride the momentum from an already successful season, the Nittany Lion men's and women's cross country squads will kick off the "championship" portion of their fall campaign, at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships at the University of Wisconsin. The Badgers will play host to the conference meet for the first time since the 2000 season, with the competition set to run on its year-old Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course. The Nittany Lion women will undoubtedly have a target on their backs going into the race, following the program's first-ever Big Ten Cross Country Championship a year ago, while the Penn State men are just as highly touted, entering the weekend as the nation's 24th-ranked team in the United States Track and Field/Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA) poll.
About the Meet: The Big Ten Cross Country Championships
About the Competition:
Men (USTFCCCA Rank; Region, Rank)-
Women (USTFCCCA Rank; Region, Rank)-
Illinois (Midwest, No. 10)
Indiana (USTFCCCA No. 29; Great Lakes, No. 4)
Iowa (USTFCCCA No. 30; Midwest, No. 5)
Michigan (USTFCCCA No. 21; Great Lakes, No. 2)
Michigan State (USTFCCCA No. 16; Great Lakes, No. 1)
Minnesota (USTFCCCA No. 19; Midwest, No. 2)
Northwestern (Midwest, No. 11)
Ohio State (Great Lakes, No. 6)
Penn State (USTFCCCA ORV; Mid-Atlantic, No. 4)
Purdue (Great Lakes, No. 13)
Wisconsin (Great Lakes, No. 11)
Women's Race Preview: The women's race will feature a total of five programs ranked in the national top 30, including 16th-ranked Michigan State, Minnesota in 19th, Michigan in 21st, and Indiana and Iowa in 29th and 30th, respectively. The Nittany Lions, who have been among the nation's elite for much of the season, currently sit just outside the top 30 in 34th. Individually, Michigan's Kaitlyn Peale is the top returning finisher, following a fourth-place effort a year ago. Michigan State's Emily McLeod has also had an outstanding fall thus far, after posting a sixth-place standing at the 2009 Big Ten Championships. McLeod also led her Spartan squad to a sixth-place finish in the Blue Race at the Pre-National Invitational earlier this year, thanks to a ninth-place individually. Minnesota and Michigan were also outstanding at Pre-Nats, with the Gophers turning in a fifth-place effort in the White Race, just ahead of Michigan in seventh. Minnesota was paced by sixth-place finisher Stephanie Price, while Danielle Tauro led the Wolverines in 21st. Also in contention will likely be Indiana's Sarah Pease, who was eighth last year, as well as the individual champion at the Chile Pepper Festival at Arkansas earlier this month.
With the loss of 2009 Big Ten Individual Champion Bridget Franek, the young Nittany Lion squad has relied on the strength of the pack this season, finishing with less than a 35-second spread from first to fifth finishers in each of the last three races, including a miniscule 10-second margin between one and five (16 seconds from one to seven) at Notre Dame. Sophomore Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio), who 16th in the Big Ten in 2009, has stepped to the front of the pack, running as the Lions' top finisher in the last two competitions. In fact, the Nittany Lions will race five members from its 2009 championship team, including juniors Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.), and Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.), who were 22nd and 23rd, respectively, last fall, as well as sophomores Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.) and Lindsey Graybill (Macungie, Pa.). The Lions have also been joined by some new faces in the top seven, including seniors Paige Anderson (Carlisle, Pa.) and Maura Ryan (Doylestown, Pa.), as well as freshman Emily Giannotti (Coudersport, Pa.).
The Lions have been successful against Big Ten foes throughout the season, bettering both Iowa and Ohio State at the Notre Dame Invitational last month. The Nittany Lions also finished just behind Minnesota at the Roy Griak Invitational in September with the Gophers placing seventh on their home course, just ahead of Penn State in ninth. Penn State is also coming off a strong performance at the Penn State National, where the Nittany Lions placed third overall, trailing only top-ranked Villanova, and top 10 foe Syracuse.
Men's Race Preview: The men's field is just as high-powered with three conference squads ranked in the top 30 - including two in the top seven - as well as another pair of teams who also received votes in the latest poll. Host and 11-time defending champion Wisconsin is the top-ranked squad going into the weekend, followed tightly by Indiana in seventh. The Nittany Lions, who have been holding strong in the top 25 over the past month, will go into the competition as the nation's 24th-ranked team. Individually, the Badgers return four of their top five finishers from last year's conference meet, all of who claimed spots in the top eight, including runner-up Elliot Krause, and top five finishers Maverick Darling, and Mohammed Ahmed. The Badgers recently turned in a second-place finish at the Bill Dellinger Invitational, finishing second-to-only third-ranked Oregon. Indiana has also had a sensational fall, led by frontrunners Ben Hubers, Andrew Poore, and Andrew Bayer. In fact, Indiana bettered Wisconsin - 43-75 - in their lone meeting this season at the Adidas Invitational at Wisconsin, earlier this month, thanks to a two-three effort from Bayer and Poore. Foes Michigan State and Ohio State both sit just outside the top 30.
The Nittany Lions have also been outstanding this season, highlighted by a fifth-place effort at the Notre Dame Invitational, to go along with a second-place showing at the Penn State National. Led by frontrunners Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) - the 2008 Big Ten Freshman of the Year - and Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.), the Nittany Lions impressed at Notre Dame, bettering ranked squads from Alabama, Villanova, and Notre Dame. Individually, McNally, who was 11th in the Big Ten last year, placed seventh in a stacked field, with Dawson following in 13th. Two weeks later, Dawson would lead the way with a second-place finish at the Penn State National, followed by McNally in third. The Lions would also grab another victory over Villanova, which is currently rated 29th, in the effort.
The Lions have also exhibited strong pack running behind their frontrunners, with Chris Cipro (Harmony, Pa.), Owen Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) and Ryan Foster (Tasmania, Australia) rounding out the top five at the Penn State National, placing 25th, 30th, and 31st, respectively. The trio was also outstanding at Notre Dame, along with sophomore Danny Pawola (Naperville, Ill.), who placed 53rd overall in South Bend as the Lions' number three. Also running in the top seven throughout the season has been sophomore Tom Luff (Emmaus, Pa.), who was the Lions' number six at the PSU National.
Last Time Out - The Penn State National:
Juniors Kyle Dawson and Vince McNally posted second and third-place finishes, respectively, leading the 23rd-ranked Nittany Lions to a second-place finish in the team standings, at the Penn State National at the Blue and White Golf Courses on October 16. On the women's side, sophomore Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio) paced the Nittany Lions to a third-place effort, finishing 20th individually. Dawson mounted an outstanding last 1,000-meters, crossing second overall in 25:24 - just off individual winner Terefe Ejigu of Eastern Michigan, who finished in 25:23. McNally posted an impressive finish, making a charge to the head of the pack up the final hill, and holding on for third in 25:29.
The men's team held solid in an outstanding field with No. 14 Syracuse taking the team title with 61 points. The Nittany Lions claimed second overall totaling 91 points, to edge Villanova - which was among those receiving votes in the most recent USTFCCCA pool - in third with 95. Grand Valley State placed fourth overall with 139, while Cornell rounded out the top five with 178. Villanova's Sheila Reid won the individual title, running 20:23 - seven seconds ahead of the rest of the field - leading her number-one ranked Wildcat squad to a run-away victory with 26 points. No. 7 Syracuse placed second overall with 57 points, while the Nittany Lions - currently ranked 30th in the NCAA - came in third overall with 137. Miami (Ohio) placed fourth with 155, followed by Grand Valley State- the top ranked team in Division II - with 166.
At the Notre Dame Invitational:
The Nittany Lion men's cross country squad knocked off a total of five nationally ranked opponents on Friday, October 1, on their way to a fifth-place finish in the team standings at the highly-charged Notre Dame Invitational at the Notre Dame Golf Course. The Penn State women's team also impressed in a national-class field, placing 10th overall - also besting a handful of teams in this week's USTFCCCA Top 30. Junior Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.) led the way for the Nittany Lion men, turning in a seventh-place finish, while classmate Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) was on his heels in 13th overall. Sophomore Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio) was the top Penn State finisher on the women's side, placing 50th.
The men's team engineered an outstanding performance, led by outstanding front-running performances from McNally and Dawson, who covered the 8,000-meter course in 24:04, and 24:11, respectively. The junior duo held their own in a stellar front pack, which featured numerous NCAA All-Americans, including eventual winner Luke Puskedra of Oregon.
The Lions would total 205 points for fifth overall, following only No. 3 Oregon (69 points), No. 16 New Mexico (78), No. 21 Florida State (99), and Tulsa (196). The effort yielded victories over a wealth of talented opponents, with No. 30 UCLA in sixth (206), Notre Dame in seventh (208), fifth-ranked Alabama in eighth (242), UTEP in ninth (260), and Indiana State in 10th (260). The Lions would also score wins over No. 14 Villanova, No. 17 Arizona State, and No. 28 Butler.
At the Roy Griak Invitational:
Dawson turned in a 13th-place finish individually, leading the Nittany Lion men to a ninth-place finish in a national-class field, Saturday, September 25, at the Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota. The Penn State women's squad, which is currently ranked 27th in the latest USTFCCCA rankings, would also end up ninth in the team standings, paced by 34th-place effort from Bower.
Dawson and the rest of the Nittany Lion pack were out well from the gun, positioning themselves near the front of a field over well over 200 athletes. The junior ran consistently among the top 15 competitors throughout the race, winding up in 13th overall, clocking 24:41 for the 8,000-meter course. Dawson was also the second finisher among Big Ten competitors, with Minnesota's Ben Blankenship turning in a 10th-place finish.
As has been the case throughout the early season, the Nittany Lion women provided a strong display of pack running, posting a 35-second spread between their first and fifth finishers. Bower ran as the Lions' number one for the first time in her career, placing 34th overall in 21:54. Millhouse also dipped under the 22-minute mark, finishing just six seconds behind Bower in 21:59 to place 41st.
At the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational:
Juniors Kara Millhouse and Kyle Dawson each posted top 10 finishes, leading their teams to outstanding finishes in stellar fields, on Saturday, September 11 at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational at the Blue and White Golf Courses. Millhouse recorded a seventh-place effort, pacing the 24th-ranked women's squad to a third-place finish in the team standings, while Dawson's third-place showing helped the Nittany Lion men to a fourth-place standing.
The Nittany Lion women totaled 59 points for third - thanks to five finishers in the top 17 - behind No. 11 Georgetown with 28 points, and No. 7 Princeton with 45 points. Princeton took the team title on the men's side, edging No. 16 Georgetown, 48-52, with Navy in third with 79, and Penn State in fourth with a 92-point total.
Dawson held his own among a tremendous men's field, placing third overall in 25:19 for the 5.2-mile tour - just six seconds off individual champion Donn Cabral of Princeton. Junior Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.) would also turn in a top 10 finish, placing seventh with a finishing time of 25:34. Junior Chris Cipro (Harmony, Pa.) was the Lions' third finisher, crossing the finish line in 26:03 to take 21st.
Big Ten Recognition:
Following individual victories at the Dolan Duals at Lock Haven on September 3, juniors Caitlin Lane and Vince McNally have been named Big Ten Runners of the Week, announced by conference offices on Tuesday, September 7. The award was the third citation for Lane, while McNally received conference recognition for the first occasion.
The Nittany Lion men's and women's cross country teams opened the 2010 campaign in style on September 3, collecting individual victories from juniors Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.), and Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.), as well as a pair of team victories at the Lock Haven Dolan Duals at West Branch Cross Country Course. The Penn State women put together a top seven sweep over their opponents, to post a perfect score of 15-50, while the Nittany Lion men always came away with a victory, winning 23-35.