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Nov. 15, 2010
By Kaitlyn Knopp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Charging down the blue and white line under an unseasonably warm November sun, hot pink, neon green and electric blue sneakers flash past screaming bystanders as the Nittany Lions barrel towards the finish line.
The NCAA Cross Country Regionals, held Saturday at the Blue and White Golf Courses, pitted nationally ranked cross country teams such as Villanova, Princeton and Georgetown against the Nittany Lions. The men's and women's team finished strong, the men placing fourth and the women coming in third.
The women upset No. 19 Princeton in the race to place third, with team captain Caitlin Lane giving a 12th place finish that helped secure them a bronze medal honor. It was the best the women's team has placed since 2002.
"I was very happy with the ladies upsetting Princeton," Coach Beth Sullivan said after both team's races. "It was a very tough race."
The men had a dominating presence at the front of the pack for the men's race though, with Kyle Dawson and Vince McNally finishing second and third respectively. The two men had dashed down the final stretch, seconds apart to secure their spots, chasing the jersey of Georgetown senior Ayalew Taye.
"Kyle (Dawson) and I both ran strong individually," McNally said, walking back to Penn State's team area after the race, gleaming with perspiration. "I was pretty happy with my race."
McNally's finish won him his third all-region certificate, while Dawson finished within a second of the individual title, the highest regional finish of Dawson's career.
"The race today was the same as the race we had here last month," McNally said. "Where I charged up the home stretch, but Kyle caught me in the end."
Both the men's and women's team placed high against their competition, though McNally noted he didn't think the team "ran quite to par." He explained the men's had hoped for second, leaving fourth a bit of a let down.
"We had very, very tough competition," Sullivan said of the races, standing by her team members waiting to hear the official results announced.
Following the strong showing at regionals, both teams will be competing at the NCAA Championships to be held Monday, November 22 at Indiana State. It marks the first time both squads will both represent the Lions at the national championships since 1994.
"We ran great races," Sullivan said. "The boys ran very hard to get second and third - it was a very tough 10k race."