It’s taken 37 years, but Penn State has finally returned to NCAA prominence.
This weekend, at the NCAA Indoor National Championships at the University of Arkansas, the Nittany Lion men finished in the top 10 for the first time since 1975, and scored 19 points, the team’s highest total ever.
“We had a great weekend, we were extremely competitive and it was exciting to see what we could do,” coach Beth Alford-Sullivan said. “To score 19 points was a very impressive result for us.”
The men’s and women’s teams sent eight total representatives to Fayetteville, Ark. They split their events between jumps, throws, and both individual and relay runs.
The men’s team had three standout performances throughout the weekend. The distance medley relay team’s effort on Friday night, along with senior Casimir Loxsom and junior Will Barr’s individual efforts on Saturday.
The distance medley relay, which has been successful all season, consisted of freshman Brannon Kidder, junior Brandon Bennett-Green, freshman Za’Von Watkins and sophomore Robby Creese. The team finished second.
The 9:34.00 time was the best finish in program history in the event, and was the team’s first of two runner-up finishes on the weekend.
Loxsom, who has set and broken records all season long, finished second in a tightly contested 800-meter dash. He clocked a time of 1:47.23, just a tenth of a second off of Oregon runner Elijah Greer’s winning time of 1:47.13.
“We were thrilled to be in a position to come so close to winning,” Sullivan said of the two runner-up finishes.
Barr, the other outstanding performer of the meet for the Nittany Lions, came into the weekend ranked 10th in the 35-lb weight throw, and finished sixth at the national meet.
The thick-bearded junior was struggling a bit before throwing a personal and school record 69-11.75 (21.33) on his final throw of the afternoon.
Barr’s last throw was a culmination of his continued effort.
“I knew it was there, but was just missing the finish,” he told gopsusports.com. “I got a good clap from the crowd, and got some adrenaline flowing and just ripped it out there.”
In all, the team had six first-team All-America finishes (top eight in event) on the weekend.
Sullivan, who described the season as “historic,” felt that the weekend could have been even stronger.
“We feel like we could’ve had an even better weekend, and we look to carry that momentum into the [upcoming] outdoor season,” the head coach said.