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Nov. 14, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky.: November 14, 2012 - Countless miles and months of preparation will all come down to this weekend, as the No. 9 Nittany Lion women's cross country team, as well as senior Sam Masters (Columbia, Mo.) will lay it all on the line, Saturday at the NCAA Cross Country Championships at the University of Louisville. The Nittany Lion women have been on record-setting pace as of late, winning the program's first-ever regional crown at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships last Friday, which led to a ninth-place rating in the latest USTFCCCA poll - Penn State's highest standing since the 1996 season.
In fact, the Nittany Lions have been heavily recognized over the past week, as Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan was named USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Region Women's Coach of the Year - the 25th "Coach of the Year" citation of her decorated coaching career.
About the NCAA Cross Country Championships...
When: Saturday, November 17
Where: Tom Sawyer Park (Louisville, Ky.)
Race Times: Women's 6,000m (12:00 p.m.;): Men's 10,000m (1:15 p.m.)
Host Information: www.GOCARDS.com
Live Stream: www.NCAA.com
Nittany Lions Notes...
2011 NCAA Championships...
Senior Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) blitzed to a 16th-place finish, earning her first-career All-America finish, at the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships at the Lavern Gibson Cross Country Course. Lane's outstanding finish propelled the Nittany Lion women to a 13th-place finish in the team standings - the highest finish of any Big Ten program in the race, and the best effort by a Penn State women's squad since 1996. Men's team members Kyle Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.) and Vince McNally (Paoli, Pa.) competed individually in the men's race, with Dawson leading the way with a 73rd-place effort. Natalie Bower, Brooklyne Ridder, Emily Giannotti, and Abbie Benson all return from the Lions' 13th-place squad in 2013.
Last Time in Louisville...
Led by top 20 performances by juniors Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio), and Victoria Perri (Philadelphia, Pa.), the 17th-ranked Nittany Lion women's cross country squad placed fifth overall at the Greater Louisville Classic on September 29, knocking off No. 8 Vanderbilt, as well as No. 29 and conference rival, Wisconsin. The men's squad also posted a solid effort, placing 10th in the team standings, thanks to a 17th-place finish from senior Sam Masters(Columbia, Mo.), individually.
Fourth's Time's the Charm...
Brooklyne Ridder and Natalie Bower are now the sixth and seventh four-time NCAA cross country qualifiers in program history following Bridget Franek (2006-09), Heidi Gerken (1981-84), Kelli Hunt (1991-94), Kim Kelly (1991-94), and Stacia Prey (1985-88). The Nittany Lions will also be making their fourth-straight NCAA appearance on the women's side - the longest streak since Penn State qualified for five-straight NCAA meets from 1981-1985.
Lion on the Line...
The Nittany Lions have been just as consistent in NCAA appearances on the men's side, as Sam Masters' NCAA trip will represent the fifth-straight year that Penn State has qualified at least one male athlete to the Championships, and the ninth appearance by at least one Nittany Lion in the last 10 years.
The No. 9 ranking in this week's USTFCCCA poll is the highest for Penn State since the Nittany Lions appeared at No. 7 in the poll during the week of October 14, 1996. The Nittany Lions stand second among four Big Ten squads in the championships, with No. 6 Michigan - the 2012 Big Ten Champions - leading the way. Michigan State is currently ranked 13th, while Minnesota stands 25th in the most recent national top 30.
Seven Nittany Lions have officially earned United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA) all-region status, announced by Coaches' Association offices on Monday. The Nittany Lions will travel a healthy contingent to the NCAA Cross Country Championships this weekend, including the No. 15 Penn State women's squad, which is coming off a winning-effort at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional, along with senior Sam Masters (Columbia, Mo.), who has qualified as an individual. Senior Tyler Jones (Chalfont, Pa.) also garnered all-region status. Nittany Lions Tori Perri, Brooklyne Ridder, Bekka Simko, Leigha Anderson, and Emily Giannotti all turned in all-region races on the women's side.
Home Sweet Home...
Taking full advantage of running on the their home, as well as an unseasonably warm November afternoon, the Nittany Lion women's cross country squad took top honors at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, Friday at the Blue-White Golf Course. Edging No. 9 and defending NCAA Champion Georgetown, 61-63, the Nittany Lions will automatically advance to the NCAA Cross Country Championships, set for November 17, at the University of Louisville. The Nittany Lions came out on top of a barn burner of a competition, securing their first ever victory at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional. Penn State led the way with 61 points, followed by Georgetown in second with 63, and Villanova, who has won two of the last three NCAA titles, in third, with a total score of 96 points.
Big Ten Business...
Junior Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio) placed fifth overall - capturing First Team All-Conference status - to lead the No. 13 Nittany Lion women's cross country team to an impressive third-place finish, Sunday at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships at Michigan State University. Redshirt-freshman Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) was the top finishing Nittany Lion on the men's side, taking 23rd overall to help the Blue and White to a sixth-place showing in the team standings.
The then 14th-ranked Nittany Lion women's cross country squad proved their position among the nation's elite, finishing eighth in the team standings, Friday at the high-powered Adidas Wisconsin Invitational at Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course. Paced by a 34th-place effort from junior Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio), the Nittany Lions held their own against a sensational field, bettering a total of 13 nationally ranked programs, and finishing tops among Big Ten foes.
Home Course Advantage...
Junior Victoria Perri (Philadelphia, Pa.) and redshirt-sophomore Matt Fischer(Kennett Square, Pa.) paced the Nittany Lions individually despite rainy and windy conditions, each turning in runner-up finishes, Saturday at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational at the Blue-White Golf Courses. The Nittany Lion women's squad posted a dominant effort in the team standings, winning the competition with a 25-point total, thanks to five finishers in the top 10, and seven in the top 16. Penn State also fared well on the men's side, taking third overall in a solid early-season field.
Early Big Ten Honors...
Following victories at the Dolan Duals at Lock Haven last weekend, redshirt-freshman Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) and junior Rebekka Simko(Mentor, Ohio) have been named Big Ten Cross Country Athletes of the Week. The Nittany Lions provided a dominate effort in the team standings with both teams picking up victories over Lock Haven, including a 15-50 sweep by the women's squad.
Off and Running...
Redshirt freshman Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) and junior Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio) led the way with individual titles, pacing the Nittany Lion cross country squads to a pair of team victories at the annual Dolan Duals at Lock Haven University on Sept. 31. Simko headed up a perfect effort from the women's squad, which saw the Nittany Lions better the Bald Eagles, 15-50. Simko gapped the field down the homestretch of the 4,000-meter course, finishing in 14:16. Teammate Tori Perri (Philadelphia, Pa.) was next in line, finishing in 14:20 for second overall. The men's squad was just as successful, bettering their competitors, 25-30, with Creese picking up the individual victory in 18:12 over 6,000-meters, in his first cross country appearance in a Nittany Lion uniform. The Nittany Lions covered three of the top five finishing spots, with junior Nick Scarpello(Jamison, Pa.), and Tom Luff (Emmaus, Pa.) taking third and fourth, respectively, in 18:36 and 18:37.
Nittany Lions in Charge...
A quintet of seniors will serve at Penn State's team captains for the 2012 seasons, with 2011 NCAA qualifiers Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.), Lindsey Graybill (Macungie, Pa.), and Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio) captaining the women's squad, and Tyler Corkedale(West Windsor, N.J.), and Tom Luff (Emmaus, Pa.) leading the men's team.
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