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Nov. 13, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS: The No. 22 Nittany Lion women's cross country team has officially qualified for the NCAA Championships for the third-straight year, while senior duo Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) and Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.) will represent Penn State individually, announced by the NCAA National Office on Sunday. Both Nittany Lion squads placed fourth in outstanding competition, yesterday at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships in Princess Anne, Md. The NCAA Championships are slated for Monday, November 21, in Terre Haute, Ind.
"It's an honor to have our women's team represent Penn State in Terre Haute for the third-straight year," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan. "I'm also very proud of Vince and Kyle, who have both been driving factors in the program's success over the past four years. It will be very exciting to have such a strong Penn State group competing at the NCAA Championships."
By making the trip to Terre Haute, McNally will become just the 13th Nittany Lion to men's program history to go a perfect four-for-four in NCAA cross country appearances. Dawson is also no stranger to the competition, having qualified on three occasions, including a 64th-place effort a year ago. All told, the Nittany Lions have seen 290 male athletes appear at the championships since the meet's inception.
Dawson and McNally earned individual bids thanks to outstanding finishes at yesterday's regional championships, where Dawson finished ninth and McNally placed 11th. Both seniors earned all-region recognition, along with classmate Owen Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.), who placed 25th individually.
The women will also send an exceptionally seasoned crew of athletes, including seniors Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) and Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.) and juniors Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.), who will all be making their third-consecutive NCAA appearance. Lane, who took top honors at the Big Ten Championships last month, led the Nittany Lions at the regional, placing sixth overall for her second-straight all-region certificate. Millhouse, Ridder, and Bower would also each tally their second-career all-region finish, with Millhouse taking 11th, Ridder in 20th, and Bower in 22nd.
Sophomore Emily Giannotti (Coudersport, Pa.) came up just shy of an all-region (top 25) effort, in 32nd, while freshman Abbie Benson (Elma, N.Y.) and junior Lindsey Graybill (Macungie, Pa.) placed 45th and 49th, respectively. Giannotti and Graybill were also members of the Nittany Lions' 26th-place team at the NCAA Championships in 2010.
At-large qualifying bids are awarded to teams based on regional finish and success throughout the fall campaign. The Nittany Lions will be one of four squads from the Mid-Atlantic Region (Villanova, Georgetown, and West Virginia) to make the field in Terre Haute, and one of five Big Ten squads to earn an NCAA berth (Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Minnesota).
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