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PSU Track and Field

Team is doing well at the NCAA regionals. 45 student athletes are participating in the East preliminary round.

On Thursday, six athletes qualified for the NCAA Finals to be held in Eugene Ore on May 25-27. They were Michael Shuey, Mike Biddle, and Ryan Kerr in the javelin (spear chucker U?), B10 champ Malik Moffet in the long jump, Hannah Mulhearn in the pole vault (new school record), and Jillian Hunsberger in the 10K (3rd best alltime).

On Friday, five more athletes qualified. Isaiah Harris, Domenic Perretta and Danae the 800 meters (Happy Valley Half Milers?), Jon Yohman in the shot put, and Tori Gerlach in the steeplechase.

Several more athletes are in contention to qualify today as competition resumes for the final day this afternoon.

Weather impacting several of today’s events so things are running a little delayed.

So far, one Penn Stater has advanced to Eugene:

Bryce Williams in the triple jump.

Back under way after an hour delay.

Women’s 4x100 finishes seventh in their heat so they will not advance.

Penn State men’s 4x100 wins their heat to advance to Eugene.

Purdue and Ohio State also are among the 12 schools to advance.

Keianna Albury finishes last in her 200m heat and fails to advance.

Malik Moffet finishes fifth in his heat and will have to wait to see if his time holds up as one of the three best non-automatic qualifiers.

Moffet was on the bubble going into the final heat but it held up. He advances to Oregon.

David Lucas finishes ninth in the discus and moves onto the NCAA finals.

Danielle Gibson finishes eighth in the triple jump and advances to Eugene.

Kaitlyn Lopez finishes 19th (out of 47), six inches short of making it to Oregon.

Obeng Marfo finishes 11th in the shot put and punches her ticket west.

Tessa Barrett runs a brilliant 5000m to win her heat and advance to Oregon with the fastest time of the day.

This race is considered a semifinal which means that Barrett is automatically qualified into the NCAA finals.

Timothy McGowan falters in the last 1500m and fails to qualify in the 5000m. He finished 16th overall, but only 12 advance.

Women’s 4x400 finish last in their heat and won’t advance.

In the last event of the day, Penn State’s 800m star Isaiah Harris ran anchor for 4x400 relay. He took over with about a yard lead on Auburn. Unfortunately, Auburn’s anchor was the Olympic silver medalist in the 400. Needless to say, Harris couldn’t hold him off. Still PSU finished second in the heat to easily qualify for Oregon. That time wound up being the second fastest overall on the day too.

A very successful weekend in Kentucky for the track team.

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Nice wrap, Lar. Thanks!
This isn’t the level of performance I’m used to from our track team. So what’s the difference? Is this one of those once a decade teams or have we changed the dymanic of our recruiting? I know we hired some high profile coaches in the last 5+ years in other sports. Did we do the same in track?

Actually, we went the exact opposite. About 20 years ago, we made a semi high profile hire for our women’s track program when we pulled Beth Alford-Sullivan away from Stanford. Then around a decade later, she took over the men’s program too (that was a bit of a controversy, putting a woman in charge of the men’s program).

Alford-Sullivan was successful here, but most of the success seemed to come from the women’s program. She produced nine Big Ten team championships across the six sports she oversaw (men’s and women’s cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track). But that was almost entirely with the women (they got as high as 6th in the country.

Three years ago, that success led her to being hired away by national powerhouse Tennessee to oversee their men’s and women’s T&F/XC programs. When that happened, PSU elevated assistant coach John Gondak to the head coach’s job. He definitely wasn’t a high profile hire (he did go to my high school though, so I didn’t mind the hire at all).

Since Gondak’s was promoted, the men have improved considerably, while the women have fallen off just slightly. Combined, they might be better than they ever were under Alford-Sullivan (I’d have to pour over the records a bit more before I’d make that a definitive statement).

Only time will tell if this is sustainable, but we have a fairly youthful squad.

NCAA Track and Field championships start today, Coverage is on the ESPN family of channels starting with ESPNU at 4:30.

Not exactly happy with ESPN’s coverage of PSU at the NCAA championships.

On two different occasions, they identified Penn State runners as being from Prairie View when the athletes took to the track. Fortunately, I recognized them and was able to watch them anyway, but that’s pretty poor reporting. To their credit, they did get Penn State right when they posted the results, but if you were tuned in to watch the Penn Staters run, you would have missed them (neither of them qualified).

Wednesday was the men’s semifinals. Thursday will be the women’s.

On the track:

SO Isaiah Harris finished second in his heat (and second overall) to advance to the finals in the 800

The men’s 4x100 finished 5th in their semifinal heat (13th overall) and failed to qualify for the finals.
FR Domenic Perrera finshed 8th in his heat (21st overall) in the 800 and failed to advance to the finals.
JR Malik Moffat finished 8th in his heat (22nd overall) in the 200 and failed to advanced to the finals.

Four Big Ten squads (Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State, and Nebraska) were all in the same heat of the 4x400 relay. Only the top two finishers in each heat (plus the two fastest non-automatic qualifiers) advance to the finals. Florida won the heat with the four B10 teams fighting for the second automatic qualifier. Ohio State finished 2nd, Iowa 3rd, PSU 4th, and Nebraska 5th with just 0.6 seconds separating 2 thru 4. Iowa’s time was good enough to advance but Penn State’s wasn’t. They claimed the dreaded ninth spot, just outside of the eight to advance to the finals.

In the field events (all finals):

In the javelin finals, SR Michael Shuey finished third. SR Ryan Kerr took ninth (only the top eight score points) and FR Michael Biddle finished 18th.
In the long jump finals, B10 champ JR Malik Moffet finished 18th, completing a tough day for him where he failed to score or advance in all three of his events.
In the shot put, Jon Yohman finished 11th.

After day one, the men sit in 14th place.

Women’s competition starts today.

Tori Gerlach ran a fine steeplechase to easily qualify for the finals. She was edged out at the tape but still will head to the finals with the second fastest qualifying time.

Both Gerlach and men’s 800M Isaiah Harris will be among the favorites to win an NCAA title in their respective events when the finals are held today and tomorrow.

The rest of the gals didn’t fare so well.

Danae Rivers placed 19th in the 800m.
Obeng Mario also finished 19th in her event, the shot put.
Jillian Hunsberger finished 10th in the 10K final, two spots out of scoring points for the team.
Hannah Mulhern failed to clear the opening height in the pole vault.

So with six events in the books for the women, PSU has yet to score a point, leaving them in 39th place.

Today was the last day of competition for the men, the women finish tomorrow.

SO Isaiah Harris finished 2nd in the 800m final to Emanuel Korir of UTEP. Korir also won the NCAA 800m indoor crown (Harris was fourth). If it’s any consolation, Harris was the highest American finisher since Korir is from Kenya. Korir is a freshman and may be what winds up standing between Harris and an NCAA title in this event over the next two years.

In a way, Harris’s highest American finish was a repeat of Michael Shuey’s third place throw in the javelin on Wednesday. The first two places in the javelin went to throwers from Greece and Spain, so, like Harris, Shuey was the highest American finisher in his event.

PSU soph Bryce Williams (from State College) finished 19th in the triple jump.

In what was an all too often repeated theme, Penn State sophomore David Lucas finished 9th in the discus. The top 8 finishers earn points and are considered first team All-Americans. In addition to Lucas, Ryan Kerr finished 9th in the javelin, and the 4x400 relay team finished with the ninth best time, so we came up just short of scoring several more points.

Overall, the men wound up with 14 points, good enough for 20th place. That’s slight drop off from last year when we were 17th.

That should be good for about 50 Director’s Cup points, but that may not be enough to keep us in the top ten (we were 8th going into the T&F championships).