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Oct. 31, 2010
MADISON, Wis. - 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, Sunday at the 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.
"Penn State had a nice representation at the Big Ten Championships today," said Director and Head Coach of Cross Country/Track and Field Beth Alford-Sullivan. "Wisconsin did an outstanding job hosting with an incredible course and a great atmosphere."
The 24th-ranked men's squad totaled 128 points in an outstanding field, following host and No. 6 Wisconsin, which ran away with its 12th-consecutive conference title with 26 points. Individual champion Landon Peacock of Wisconsin lead a high-powered Badger attack, which included four Wisconsin athletes in the top six. Indiana, which was ranked seventh in the latest USTFCCCA poll, placed second with a 75-point total, with Minnesota taking third overall with 101. Michigan State followed the Lions in fifth (141), with Illinois (150) and Ohio State (164) claiming sixth and seventh, respectively.
"Our men led once again by all-conference performances Kyle and Vince the guys did a great job of handling themselves in a tactical race," said Sullivan of the men. "Our season's goal was a top four finish in the Big Ten, and our men's squad not only achieved that today but look to continued to impress this year."
On the women's side, No. 16 Michigan State took top honors with 74 points - the highest-winning total in conference history - behind an individual victory from Emily McLeod. Michigan, which is currently ranked 21st, would place second overall with an 88-point total, while 19th-ranked Minnesota posted a third-place standing with 90. The Nittany Lions scored 106 for fourth, with No. 29 Indiana (117), Ohio State (162), and Wisconsin (172) rounding out the top seven spots.
"The women held their own in a competitive field," said Sullivan. "I'm extremely proud of Brooklyne Ridder and Natalie Bower breaking through with top 14 performances to lead this team. As this young team continues to develop, we look forward to racing tough and making an appearance again at the NCAA Championships."
Running strategically throughout a conservative first half, and hanging on during furious finish in the men's race, Dawson held on for eighth-place overall, completing the 8,000-meter course in 23:55. McNally was the second Nittany Lion to cross, finishing 13th in 24:02. The pair of all-conference performance marks the first time two Nittany Lions have posted All-Big Ten efforts in the same race since the 2000 season.
Senior Ryan Foster (Tasmania, Australia) was outstanding in his final appearance at the Big Ten cross country meet, posting a top 30 effort by taking 27th overall in 24:30. Sophomore Danny Pawola (Naperville, Ill.) provided a stellar finishing kick down the homestretch, picking off a pack of competitors to take 34th overall with a final time of 24:35. Junior Chris Cipro (Harmony, Pa.) was the Nittany Lion number five on the day, scoring a 46th-place finish in 24:50.
"The guys are a competitive and tough team, that have a set a mission to reach the NCAA Championships again," continued Sullivan. "I look forward to seeing them compete at home and over 10K."
Holding her ground within the top 10 athletes throughout the race, Ridder captured her first-career all-conference certificate with an eighth-place finish - bettering her 16th-place effort from a year ago - crossing the line in 20:38. Bower made marked improvements from last fall's championships, placing 14th overall to secure all-conference honors - 25 spots better than her 2009 conference finish. Bower covered the 6,000-meter course in 20:48.
Junior duo Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) and Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) were next to cross, with Lane leading the way in 23rd overall, finishing in 20:58. Millhouse was on her heels in 25th - just a second behind her teammate in 20:59
The Lions' fifth and final scorer on the day was senior Maura Ryan (Doylestown, Pa.), who provided an outstanding second half of the race, passing numerous competitors in the final stages. Ryan finished in 35th overall, clocking 21:15.
Freshman Emily Giannotti (Coudersport, Pa.) made good on her first-career appearance at the Big Ten Championships, placing 46th overall in 21:32. Sophomore Lindsey Graybill (Macungie, Pa.) would also run in the Lions' top seven, crossing 50th overall, in 21:36.
"Programmatically, I'm very pleased two upper echelon finishes and look forward to the next step of the season with the NCAA Regional in a couple weeks," said Sullivan.
The Nittany Lions will take a weekend off before hosting the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on November 13 at the Blue and White Golf Courses. Action begins at 12:00 p.m., and will determine which teams will qualify for the NCAA Championships.
2010 Men's All-Big Ten TeamsAll-Big Ten First Team
Landon Peacock, Wisconsin
Andy Bayer, Indiana
Ben Blankenship, Minnesota
Mohammed Ahmed, Wisconsin
Elliot Krause, Wisconsin
Maverick Darling, Wisconsin
Bobby Aprill, Michigan
2010 Women's All-Big Ten TeamsAll-Big Ten First Team Emily MacLeod, Michigan State
Stephanie Price, Minnesota
Emily Sisson, Wisconsin
Danielle Tauro, Michigan
Sarah Pease, Indiana
Caitlin Comfort, Wisconsin
Carlie Green, Michigan State
All-Big Ten Second Team
Betsy Flood, Iowa
Brooklyne Ridder, Penn State
Ellen Birmingham, Ohio State
Missa Varpness, Minnesota
Jillian Smith, Michigan
Nikki Swenson, Minnesota
Natalie Bower, Penn State