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Oct. 30, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill.: October 30, 2011 - Senior Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) took top honors, leading the Nittany Lion women's squad to a third-place finish in the team standings, Sunday, at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships at the University of Illinois Arboretum. Lane led a trio of Nittany Lions on the women's all-conference team, with senior Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) earning first team status, and sophomore Emily Giannotti (Coudersport, Pa.) claiming second team honors. Seniors Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) and Vince McNally(Paoli, Pa.) paced the Nittany Lions' sixth-place finish on the men's side, placing 12th and 13th, respectively, both capturing all-conference second team accolades.
Lane led a talented women's field from the gun, eventually separating from the pack, along with Wisconsin's Caitlin Comfort, and Michigan's Danielle Tauro. After Comfort took a slight lead with just under a mile to go, Lane put in a surge with 1,000-meters remaining, regaining the lead over Comfort and speeding away to capture her first-career conference title. Despite windy conditions, the senior covered the 6,000-meter course in 19:58 taking the individual title by 14 seconds. Lane, who improved upon a 23rd-place finish a year ago, becomes the third individual Big Ten winner in Penn State history - and the second in the last three years - following Kim McGreevy in 1996, and Bridget Franek in 2009.
“I knew there was a possibility of it happening, but I didn’t really think it would,” said Lane on the victory. “With 1,000-meters to go I kind of knew that I had it, and then I just kicked it into the finish as hard as I could. Caitlin Comfort from Wisconsin gapped me up the last hill, and I tried to just say composed, and then when I caught up to her, Coach (Alford-Sullivan) told me to not wait and just go, so I went, and I’m glad I did.”
Millhouse also mounted an outstanding finishing kick, passing several competitors down the homestretch to a score a seventh-place finish in 20:34. Giannotti was sensational on the afternoon, claiming 14th overall in 20:44, capturing her first-career all-conference certificate. Millhouse and Giannotti also enjoyed significant improvement from the 2010 Championships, with the senior improving from 25th to seventh, and the sophomore going from 46th to 14th.
The Nittany Lions would also got a solid four-five punch from juniors Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.), and Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio), who placed 24th and 25th, respectively, in 20:56, and 20:58, to round out the team scoring. Freshman Abbie Benson (Elma, N.Y.) was the Lions' number six on the day, crossing in 50th overall in 21:27, while junior Lindsey Graybill(Macungie, Pa.) placed 72nd in 22:00.
“This might rank as one of my favorite Big Ten races,” said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. “As it turned out there were three teams that really put together some great racing, so you can either say ‘we were so close,’ and almost pulled off the win and be disappointed or you can say ‘look at how well we stepped up to the challenge,’ so I was very impressed with our women’s squad today.”
Michigan State won their second-consecutive team title, scoring a total of 55 points. Michigan took second with 61 points, with the Lions following in third with 71. Wisconsin and Minnesota rounded out the top five with 89, and 140, respectively.
Dawson and McNally held their own on the men's side, in a race that saw No. 2 Wisconsin claim five of the top six finishing spots to total 17 points. Dawson would earn his third-career all-conference finish via a 12th-palce effort in 23:56. A fast-finishing McNally, who also made the awards stand for the third time, was on Dawson's heels in 13th, finishing up the 8,000-meter course in 23:58. Wisconsin's Mohammed Ahmed won the race in 23:18, leading his team to their 13th-straight conference title.
“You really can’t put together a race strategy against a podium-type team like Wisconsin, you just have to be responsive,” said Sullivan on the men’s race. “That hurts a team like us, because we weren’t able to match that up front, and I think we got caught off-guard a little bit and started off too far back. Kyle and Vince moved well through the race, and they’re running in some of the best competition in the country, and to finish in the top 14 is impressive.”
Senior Chris Cipro (Harmony, Pa.) was next in line, placing 40th as the Lions' third man with a finishing time of 24:41. A pack of Nittany Lions finished as the Penn State four through six, led by junior Tyler Corkedale (West Windsor, N.J.) in 50th in 24:53. Sophomore Nick Scarpello (Jamison, Pa.) was next in line, placing 52nd in 24:54, with senior Owen Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) following in 53rd in 25:00. Redshirt-freshman Matt Fischer(Kennett Square, Pa.) was the Nittany Lion number seven, taking 65th in 25:20.
Indiana followed in second with a 60-point total, while Michigan and Minnesota tied for third with 104. Ohio State placed fifth with 138, just ahead of the Nittany Lions with 165.
The Nittany Lions will continue the "championship" portion of their season with the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, set for November 12 , at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore in Princess Anne, Md.