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Men's and Women's Cross Country Race for National Berths at NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals

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Nov. 10, 2009

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.: November 9, 2009 - With bids to the NCAA Championships on the line, the Nittany Lion men's and women's cross country teams are set for action this Saturday at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, hosted by the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore. Last season, the Nittany Lion men's team captured a runner-up finish in the team standings to clinch the squad's first trip to the NCAA Championships since 1994, while then-junior Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio) turned in a third-place effort to punch her ticket to the national meet, where she would earn All-America status.

This fall, the No. 11 Nittany Lion women have been running in front of the pack, scoring the program's first Big Ten Championship crown at the conference meet on Nov. 1, led by a first-place individual finish by Franek. Franek's top finish would also warrant Big Ten Athlete of the Year honors, while Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan was voted Big Ten Women's Coach of the Year. Also claiming a spot on the Big Ten podium was freshman Nicole Lord (Media, Pa.), who scored a ninth-place finish to earn second team All-Big Ten honors and earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year accolades. Sophomore Vince McNally (Smoketown, Pa.) paced the men's squad, turning in an 11th-place, and second team all-conference performance.

About the Meet:
What: NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships
When: Saturday, November 14
Where: University of Maryland-Eastern Shore (Princess Anne, Md.)
Race Distance/Start Times: Men's 10,000m - 12:00 p.m.; Women's 6,000m - 1:15 p.m.
Results: Results will be provided by; Check for full results, photos, interviews, and complete Nittany Lion recaps on Saturday evening.
Twitter: Follow all the Penn State updates at

Advancement: The top two teams in both the men's and women's races will automatically advance to the NCAA Championships. The remaining teams will still be eligible for an "at-large" berth, which will be determined by the NCAA selection criteria and will be announced on Sunday, November 15. The top four individuals (who are not on an advancing team) will also receive a bid to the national meet.

Samuel Borchers

Men's Preview:

Defending regional champion and USTFCCCA No. 15 Georgetown is the team to beat on the men's side at this year's Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, led by standout senior Andrew Bumbalough - the 2008 Mid-Atlantic individual champion. The Hoyas placed second overall at the recent Big East Championships, and placed 10th nationally a year ago. Georgetown has been a mainstay in NCAA meet history and has qualified as a team in each of the last 11 seasons.

Also coming into the weekend with a national ranking is No. 20 Villanova, which finished third at the Big East Championships this season led by freshman standout and conference runner-up Mathew Mildenhall. The Wildcats placed third in the region in 2008, and would go on to place 31st at the NCAA Championships. Also looking to get a piece of the team standings are Princeton and Navy, which rank third and fourth in the region, respectively. The Tigers recently finished second at the Ivy League Championships on the strength of an underclassman heavy squad, while the Midshipmen ran away with the Patriot League title, led by junior Andrew Hanko.

Sophomore Vince McNally (Smoketown, Pa.) has led the Nittany Lions for much of the fall season, including an 11th-place and second team all-conference finish at the Big Ten Championships. McNally led the Lions in their second-place effort at the Regional Championships a year ago, posting a sixth-place showing on the 10,000-meter course. The Nittany Lions' number two at the conference meet was sophomore Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) - an all-region finisher as a freshman in 2008, as well as the number-one runner on the Lions' 25th-place team at the NCAA Championships last year. Also running as consistent members of the Nittany Lion top seven have been Samuel Borchers (Yellow Springs, Ohio) - a former Big Ten Champion at 1500-meters, and seasoned junior Lucas Zarzeczny (Pittsburgh, Pa.). Amidst a solid freshman campaign in the Lion top five is rookie Danny Pawola (Naperville, Ill.), who was a Foot Locker Cross Country finalist as a high school senior. Pawola was the Lions' third finisher at the Big Ten Championships.

Women's Preview:

Much like the Big Ten Conference, the Mid-Atlantic Region will not be an easy road for the Nittany Lions, as the region features some of the top talent nationally including five teams rated among the top 12 in the USTFCCCA rankings. The Mid-Atlantic was equally as stacked in 2008, as teams from the region claimed three of the top six, and four of the top nine finishing spots at the NCAA Championships.

Caitlin Lane

The Nittany Lions will be right in the thick of it, coming off the program's first Big Ten Championship earlier this month. Scoring victories over ranked programs from Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, and Iowa at the conference meet, the Nittany Lions have been on fire in recent weeks, led by individual Big Ten winner Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio). The Lions have impressed on the national scene this fall, posting a fourth-place effort at the high-caliber Notre Dame Invitational, and turning in a second-place effort at the Penn State National. The Lion lineup features both seasoned veterans, and talented underclassman, including senior Cheryl Spring (The Woodlands, Texas), who is all ready at two-time All-Region finisher. Spring's top finishes in 2009 include an individual win at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, a ninth-place effort at the Penn State National, as well as a 13th-place showing at Notre Dame. The Lion rookie contingent has been more than impressive thus far, led by Big Ten Freshman of the Year Nicole Lord (Media, Pa.), who turned in a ninth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. Classmate Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio) has also been a consistent member of the Lion top five, finishing 16th at the Big Ten Championships, and earning an individual victory at the Cappy Anderson Invitational in September. Rounding out the Lion top five for much of the season have been sophomores Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.), and Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.), who both raced at the NCAA Regional as freshman in 2008.

USTFCCCA No. 2, and Mid-Atlantic favorite Villanova headlines the pack, led by Big East Champion Sheila Reid. The Wildcats claimed three of the top four finishing places to top the team standings by over 30 points at the Big Ten Championships, with Amanda Marino and Bogdana Mimic claiming second and fourth, respectively. Villanova placed sixth at the NCAA Championships, after taking third at the regional a year ago. Prior to Big East, the Wildcats are undefeated in major meets on the year, scoring victories at the Oregon Bill Dellinger Invitational, and at the Virginia Panorama Farms Invitational. Not far behind is No. 4 Princeton, which provided a one-through-five sweep to claim a perfect-score victory at the Ivy League Championships, paced by individual champion Liz Costello. Costello is the top returning individual in the Mid-Atlantic Region, after posting a runner-up finish in 2008. The Tigers tied for the Mid-Atlantic team title last fall, and followed up with a fifth-place effort at the NCAA meet. Throughout 2009, Princeton finished second at the Notre Dame Invitational, and third in the Pre-National White Race.

Perennial distance power West Virginia will also be in the hunt for the regional title, following a second-place finish at the Big East Championships. Led by a host of seasoned veterans, including All-Americans Clara Grandt, Keri Bland, and Marie-Louise Asselin, the Mountaineers are looking to make their third-straight trip to the NCAA Championships, and return all seven members of their fourth-place squad from 2008. The Mountaineers' 2009 resume includes team titles at the Paul Short Invitational, and the Penn State National at Lock Haven. Georgetown is the fifth ranked team in the region, which comes into the weekend at No. 12 in the national polls. The Hoyas have qualified for the NCAA Championships in 20 of the last 21 years, placing ninth overall in 2008. Led by sophomore Emily Infield - the bronze medalist at the Big East meet, the Hoyas placed fourth at their conference meet, and fourth in the Pre-National Blue Race last month.

Competing Men's Teams (National Rank/Mid-Atlantic Region Rank):
American (Mid-Atlantic, No. 5)
Bucknell (Mid-Atlantic, No. 7)
Coppin State
Delaware (Mid-Atlantic, No. 13)
Delaware State
Fairleigh Dickinson
George Washington
Georgetown (USTFCCCA, No. 15/Mid-Atlantic, No. 1)
La Salle (Mid-Atlantic, No. 8)
Lehigh (Mid-Atlantic, No. 14)
Loyola (MD)
Maryland (Mid-Atlantic, No. 9)
Morgan State
Mount St. Mary's
Navy (Mid-Atlantic, No. 4)
Pennsylvania (Mid-Atlantic, No. 12)
Penn State (Mid-Atlantic, No. 10)
Princeton (Mid-Atlantic, No. 3)
Robert Morris
Seton Hall
Saint Francis (PA) (Mid-Atlantic, No. 15)
Saint Joseph's (Mid-Atlantic, No. 4)
St. Peter's
Temple (Mid-Atlantic, No. 11)
Villanova (USTFCCCA, No. 20/Mid-Atlantic, No. 2)

Competing Women's Teams (National Rank/Mid-Atlantic Region Rank):
Bucknell (Mid-Atlantic, No. 6)
Coppin State
Delaware (Mid-Atlantic, No. 14)
Delaware State
Duquesne (Mid-Atlantic, No. 9)
Fairleigh Dickinson
George Washington (Mid-Atlantic, No. 13)
Georgetown (USTFCCCA, No. 12/Mid-Atlantic, No. 5)
La Salle (Mid-Atlantic, No. 10)
Lafayette (Mid-Atlantic, No. 15)
Loyola (MD)
Maryland (Mid-Atlantic, No. 7)
Morgan State
Mount St. Mary's
Navy (Mid-Atlantic, No. 8)
Pennsylvania (Mid-Atlantic, No. 11)
Penn State (USTFCCCA, No. 11/Mid-Atlantic, No. 4)
Princeton (USTFCCCA, No. 4/Mid-Atlantic, No. 2)
Robert Morris
Seton Hall
Saint Francis (PA)
Saint Joseph's (Mid-Atlantic, No. 12)
St. Peter's
Villanova (USTFCCCA, No. 2/Mid-Atlantic, No. 1)
West Virginia (USTFCCCA, No. 7/Mid-Atlantic, No. 3)

Nittany Lions at the 2008 Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships:

For the first time since 1994, the Nittany Lion men's cross country team will make an appearance at the NCAA Championships, thanks to a second-place finish at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships at Princeton University. The Nittany Lion women finished fifth in the team standings and are still alive for an at-large berth to the national meet, led by a third-place finish from junior Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio). The men were paced by an outstanding four all-region finishes (top 25), led by a sensational effort from freshman Vince McNally (Smoketown, Pa.), who placed sixth overall. The Nittany Lion men's contingent posted an inspired effort over the 10,000-meter course, placing all five of its scoring runners in the top 26 places. McNally, who held strong in the lead pack from the start of the race, completed the rain soaked and muddy course in 31:52. Redshirt freshman Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) proved a strong-rookie presence for the Lions in the top ten, turning in an eighth-place effort with a finishing time of 32:15. McNally and Dawson were the top two freshman in the field. Also recording a top 15 and all-region finish was senior Tyler McCandless (Bath, Pa.) who finished 12th overall in 32:25 - improving over a dozen spots from his 2007 regional finish.

Senior John Mahoney (Richboro, Pa.) would also capture his first all-region certificate, turning in a 21st-place finish in 32:59. Mahoney showed marked improvement from his last regional outing, shaving over 50 places off his 2007 standing. Just missing an all-region finish was senior Dennis O'Connor (Philadelphia), who placed 26th overall, finishing in 33:10. O'Connor has also come on strong this year, taking nearly 20 places off his 2007 regional effort. The Lions finished second to only Georgetown, which totaled an impressive 27 points in the victory. Penn State scored 73 points, nipping Villanova in third with 84. Host Princeton took fourth in the team standings with 145, while St. Joe's (Pa.) rounded out the top five with 159 points. Georgetown's Andrew Bumbalough was the individual champion, finishing in 31:36.

In one of the most talented regional fields in recent memory, Franek more than held her own in the front of the pack, finishing third overall in 21:15, just four seconds back of winner Frances Koons of Villanova. Franek has been a force at the regional level for the past three seasons, finishing fifth in 2006, and fourth in 2007. Franek's finish will guarantee an individual berth to the NCAA Championships and will mark the third straight season that she has advanced to the national meet. Princeton and Villanova tied for the women's victory with 51 points a piece with Villanova finishing third with 59. Georgetown placed fourth with 90, while the Lions followed in fifth with 140.

Nittany Lions in 2009:

At the Big Ten Championships ...

Propelled by an individual victory from senior Bridget Franek, the No. 18 Nittany Lion women's cross country team captured the program's first-ever Big Ten Cross Country Championship, Sunday at the Blue/White Golf Course. In a two-woman battle with NCAA 5,000-meter champion Angela Bizzari of Illinois for much of the race, Franek took full advantage of the challenging hills on the latter half of her home course, pulling away from her Illini foe and speeding down the home stretch to win her first career conference cross country title. Franek's winning time of 20:03 over the 6,000-meter race is the second-fastest time ever run on the Blue/White Golf Course. The standout senior, who also finishes with All-Big Ten First Team honors, is the second Nittany Lion to win the Big Ten individual crown along with Kim McGreevy - the 1996 Big Ten Champion and current assistant cross country coach at Michigan State. Running second for the Nittany Lions was freshman Nicole Lord, who finished ninth overall in 20:52. Lord's impressive effort, which was the highest finish among rookies in the entire field, was good for second team All-Big Ten accolades. Classmate Brooklyne Ridder was the next Lion finisher and the third freshman in the field, scoring a 16th-place effort in 21:16.

Danny Pawola

Sophomore Vince McNally placed 11th overall, earning second team all-conference honors, Sunday at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships at the Blue/White Golf Course. The Nittany Lions finished ninth in the team standings. McNally claimed his first-career All-Big Ten certificate, finishing the 5.2 mile course in 25:37. Next up for the Lions was sophomore Kyle Dawson, who placed 45th overall with a finishing time of 26:43. Competing in his first Big Ten Championship, freshman Danny Pawola ran third for Penn State, placing 60th in 27:08.

At the Penn State National ...

Due to unseasonable weather conditions, the Nittany Lion cross country team was forced to cancel the annual Penn State National at the Blue/White Golf Course. In a last minute decision, the meet was moved to Lock Haven University, where many of the teams scheduled to appear at the Penn State National were able to compete. The weather didn't stop senior Bridget Franek from posting another outstanding performance, as she placed third among nationally elite competition. Franek finished the muddy 6,000-meter course in 20 minutes, 28 seconds - just seven seconds behind individual winner, Neely Spence of Shippensburg. The Nittany Lion women totaled 56 points in the team standings, finishing second-to-only No. 3 West Virginia, which scored a total of 27 points. The Lions bettered several nationally rated programs in the effort, including Providence in third with 74 points, Cornell in fourth (131 points), Boston College in fifth (134 points), and Stony Brook in sixth place (150 points).

At the Notre Dame Invitational ...

Knocking off several nationally-ranked foes, including No. 3 Florida State, the Nittany Lion women's cross country team impressed at the Notre Dame Invitational on Friday, placing fourth in an elite field at the Notre Dame Golf Course. Senior Bridget Franek did not disappoint in her first appearance of the 2009 campaign, placing seventh overall against outstanding competition. Sophomore Vince McNally paced the men's team, turning in a 66th-place effort over the men's 8,000-meter course. Thanks to outstanding runs from the entire Lion top seven, Penn State - which entered the weekend ranked 22nd in the latest USTFCCA poll - totaled 152 points to finish fourth in the team standings, upending stalwart programs from Arizona State (No. 13), New Mexico (No. 25), Florida State (No. 3), Southern Methodist, and Providence (No. 12). The No. 1 Washington Huskies topped the team standings with a 33-point total, followed by regional rival and No. 6 Princeton with 68. No. 15 Florida took third overall with 104. Washington claimed the top four finishing spots, led by Kendra Schaaf, who finished in 16:31.

At the Cappy Anderson Invitational ...

Freshman Brooklyne Ridder captured her first career victory while sophomore Vince McNally paced the Nittany Lion men with a fifth-place finish, Saturday at the Cappy Anderson Invitational on the campus of Maryland-Eastern Shore. Propelled by three runners in the top 10, the Nittany Lion women finished second-to-only No. 7 Princeton in the team standings. The Nittany Lions turned in a fourth-place finish on the men's side. The Lions' 37-point total was good for second-place honors on the women's side on what will also be the site of the 2009 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships in November. Princeton topped the field with 20, while UMBC took third with 75. McNally, who was an all-region finisher as a freshman in 2008, led the Lions over the 8,000-meter men's course, placing fifth in 25:28. After starting off conservative through the early goings of the race, the sophomore was able to work his way through the pack and provide as strong finish as the Lions' number one. Princeton won the men's competition with a 29-point total, followed by St. Joseph's with 38. Pittsburgh came in third with 84 points, just ahead of the Lions' in fourth with 87.

At the Spiked Shoe Invitational ...

Despite chilly conditions and heavy rain, the Nittany Lion women's cross country team topped the competition at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, Friday at the Blue-White Golf Course. Taking the individual title for the second-straight year was senior Cheryl Spring, while freshman Danny Pawola paced the Nittany Lion men to a third-place finish with an 11th-place individually. Spring ran away from all competitors, finishing the 6,000-meter course in 21:13 - 11 seconds faster than the second-place finisher. Despite the wet and muddy conditions, Spring shaved 16 seconds off her winning time from the same competition in 2008. Spring's low stick led the Nittany Lions to victory in the team standings, as the Penn State squad totaled 33 points to better Big Ten foes Ohio State (47 points), and Illinois (54 points). Big Ten rival Michigan won the men's competition with a score of 25 points, while Geneseo State managed a second-place showing with a 40-point total. The Nittany Lions captured third-place overall with a total score of 81 points.

At the Lock Haven Dolan Duals ...

Sophomore Caitlin Lane scored an individual win, while the Nittany Lion women swept the top seven spots, Friday at the Dolan Duals at Lock Haven University. Sophomore Ryan Foster was the top Penn State finisher on the men's side, taking third overall in the Nittany Lions' first competition of the cross country season. Lane, who also won the Lock Haven meet as a freshman, led an impressive contingent of underclassman, finishing in the 4,000-meter course in 13:54.90 - nearly 50 seconds faster than her winning time in 2008. Lane led the race wire-to-wire, distancing herself from the field during the second half of the competition, eventually bettering the field by over 15 seconds. Foster, an NCAA All-American at 800-meters, excelled over the 6,000-meter course, placing third overall and first for Penn State, clocking 18:16.10, thanks to a furious finishing kick. Teammate Owen Dawson, also a middle distance standout, finished neck and neck with Foster, taking fourth overall with a finishing time of 18:16.30.




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