The Penn State women came to East Lansing, Mich. on Sunday with the hopes of winning the Big Ten Championships for the second time in four years.
However, these hopes were not realized as the women finished in third place behind Michigan State and Big Ten champion Michigan.
Although this isn’t the result they were looking for, the Penn State women are not disappointed in their performance.
“We were still able to finish in the top three as a team so we were proud of that,” senior Natalie Bower said. “Everyone put out a solid effort day and I don’t think we have anything to look at and be upset about.”
The Nittany Lion women were able to run the race in a tight pack, which has been the reason for much of their success this season. Only 38 seconds separated the team’s first finisher, Rebekka Simko, from its fifth finisher, Leigha Anderson.
Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan attributes the third place result to getting beat honestly by two quality teams in Michigan and Michigan State that had good days.
“I feel we competed well and we just got beat,” said Alford-Sullivan. “I think the message is to recognize the caliber of competition that we’re running against and translate that into the next part of the postseason.”
On the men’s side of the meet, Wisconsin was able to take the Big Ten title and Penn State had a strong sixth place showing.
The men’s team did exactly what they wanted to by rebounding from their poor result in Adidas Wisconsin Invitational (41st of 45) and showing that they can put together a strong race against good competition.
Redshirt freshman Robby Creese had his best performance of the year, finishing first for the men’s squad with a time of 24:30.
Junior Nick Scarpello said the race went out faster than the team expected, but that they were able to still race intelligently while keeping up with the aggressive pace.
“Because of the way things went in Wisconsin two weeks ago…we really have refocused,” Scarpello said. “This race really helps us build momentum for Regionals in two weeks.”
Penn State will host the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on Nov. 9. Both the men and women’s teams are already putting their performances on Sunday behind them and are looking forward to this crucial meet.
“Once we’re done with one meet, we’re on to the next,” Bower said. “When we get back to State College…we’ll be onto NCAA mode and done with the Big Ten. We’re definitely looking forward to bigger and better things now.”
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