A common theme around the Multi-Sport Facility was the growing comparison between sophomore Robby Creese and 2011 graduate Ryan Foster-- the key difference between the two being that one used to hold the Penn State one-mile record time, and the other has now claimed that record for himself.
Creese flew around the track Saturday at the Husky Classic at the University of Washington, as he set the new Penn State record time of 3:57.11, more than a full second faster than Foster’s 3:58.49 time, set in the 2010 season.
Creese’s time is the second fastest in the nation thus far this season.
The similarities between Foster and Creese are quite apparent — both are distance runners, and both are quite speedy.
Head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan was quick to complement both runners.
“Ryan Foster was really a great one for us, he had numerous school records for us, was an All-American for us, and he was a great, great guy to set the stage for where we are today,” Alford-Sullivan said. “On one hand it was super cool to see Robbie break that record, on the other hand we have a lot of respect for Ryan and all he accomplished and helped set the stage for us.”
Foster, who was a four-time All-American during his career at Penn State, also had his record in the 1000-meter indoor run broken by Creese earlier.
Associate head coach John Gondak coached and worked closely with Foster, and currently works closely with Creese.
“It’s very exciting. Robbie has done some tremendous things in his time here,” the sixth-year assistant said. “Ryan did some amazing things for our program, and for Robbie to beat his record, it just shows that he’s a special athlete”
Gondak also sees the comparison between the two.
“What makes them both who they are is that they are extremely competitive people. They like to compete and compete at the highest level and try to be the best they can be,” Gondak said.
Creese himself knew that he was onto something Saturday, about halfway through the race.
“I can tell when I’m feeling well and doing well, but also when I’m not,” the Maryland native said. “And when I’m feeling well, I know I’ll do well.”
Alford-Sullivan was proud of Creese’s record, but acknowledged that there is still more to do in the interim.
“He’s on fire and he’s on a mission. His next big task is the Big Ten championship in which he will probably run — no guarantees yet — the mile, and I’m certain he’ll have his sights set on trying to win [it there],” Alford-Sullivan said.
Creese, who was named this week’s Big Ten Athlete of the Week, was the second Nittany Lion to break a four-minute mile this year, after freshman Brannon Kidder did it the Penn State National earlier this month.
Alford-Sullivan added that she thinks the quiet Creese would be aiming to win at the Big Ten Championships, and then turn around and have a strong showing at the National Championships.
She said he would aspire to become an All-American this year, which would mean a top-8 finish in a given event.
Gondak said Creese, and to an extent, the rest of the team, could continue to improve, and not plateau after a single great performance.
“First of all you have to be in a race that’s running fast. When you’re in a fast race you put yourself in a position to run great times,” he said.
Most of the team, Creese included, will be off this weekend, before heading to Geneva, Ohio for the Big Ten championships the following weekend.
“It’s been a fun ride and we have to keep it going the next couple weeks now,” Gondak said.