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Nov. 21, 2011
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Senior Caitlin Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) blitzed to a 16th-place finish, earning her first-career All-America finish, Monday at the 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.
"Our ladies goal all season was to finish in the top 10 to 15, we achieved that today and had our best finish since 1996," said Director and Head Coach of Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan.
"Caitlin Lane ran a tremendously competitive race to finish as our second-best ever finisher. I couldn't be more proud to see her represent and develop into such an outstanding athlete and be so competitive at this level."
Lane, who took the Big Ten crown last month, raced to the second-best finish by a Nittany Lion women in the NCAA era, covering the 6,000-meter course in 20:03. The only Nittany Lion to earn a better finish was Susanne Heyer, who placed 14th in 2000. Running within the top 25 for much of the race - including a speedy 9:53 3,000-meter split - Lane mounted a sizzling last 1,000-meters, passing several athletes down the final stretch to finish 16th overall and 10th in team scoring. Lane's effort was a significant improvement from a year ago, as she finished 130th overall in 2010.
Lane, who became the 19th cross country All-American in women's program history, was part of a dominant effort by the Mid-Atlantic Region, as Mid-Atlantic athletes claimed five of the top eight finishing slots, and six of the top 16. The senior was also the top Big Ten finisher by a full 30 seconds.
Also turning in a stellar performance was classmate Kara Millhouse (Boiling Springs, Pa.), who placed 59th overall and 39th in team scoring in 20:42 - narrowly missing All-America status. Millhouse also marked a tremendous improvement from 2010, bettering her 2010 finish by over 80 spots.
Juniors Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.) and Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio) gave stellar efforts as the Lions' three-four punch, with Bower coming in 112th overall (85th in team scoring), and Ridder turning in a 123rd-place effort (93rd in team scoring). Bower crossed in 21:08, with Ridder on her heels at 21:12. The junior duo also proved to be much improved from a year ago, with Bower bettering her finish by over 40 places, and Ridder shaving just over 10 seconds off of her 2010 finishing time.
Running in the five spot was sophomore Emily Giannotti (Coudersport, Pa.), who ran 21:38 to place 177th overall and score 141 team points. Also showing a big improvement, Giannotti bettered her 2010 finish by almost 30 places. Freshman Abbie Benson (Elma, N.Y.) and junior Lindsey Graybill (Macungie, Pa.) finished as the Lions' six and seven, taking 203rd and 209th, respectively.
Villanova's Sheila Reid won the women's individual title for the second-straight year, running 19:41.2 to nose out Oregon's Jordan Hasay, who crossed in 19:41.8. Regional foe Georgetown captured one of the tighter team races in recent memory, scoring 162 points to Washington's 170. Fellow Mid-Atlantic squad Villanova was third with 181, while Florida State rounded out the top four with 189.
Dawson would finish 73rd overall in the men's race, covering the grueling 10,000-meter course in 30:36. The senior, who placed 11th among Big Ten competitors, was making his third-career appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, having finished 81st in 2008, and 64th in 2010.
McNally also ran a solid effort in his fourth-straight NCAA appearance, placing 103rd in 30:48. The senior is just the 13th four-time qualifier in program history.
"Great put forward by Vince and Kyle," said Sullivan on the men's effort. `The race was competitive from the start and both of them went for it. An All-America finish has just eluded these guys over the years, but that just goes to shows the high quality of this field. I'm proud of their attempts and that they ran with such pride today."
Arizona's Lawi Lalang cruised to victory in the men's race, bettering the rest of the field by over 10 seconds in 28:44. Big Ten powerhouse Wisconsin captured the team title, scoring 97 points to outlast two-time defending champions Oklahoma State with 139. Colorado was third with 144, followed by BYU in fourth with 203.
"All our athletes represented with pride and believed in themselves and their teammates in the highest levels of competition," concluded Sullivan. "I also couldn't be prouder of the efforts of our coaches and great staff we have at Penn State."
The Nittany Lions will now head into the indoor track and field season, beginning with the Blue/White Meet on December 10.