The men’s and women’s contingents of the Penn State track and field team both got off to great starts Friday evening at the Big Ten Indoor Championships in Geneva, Ohio.
The Nittany Lion men showed up in great form Friday, as many advanced to Saturday’s finals in their individual events, in addition to some big achievements in the group events.
"We had a near perfect day on the men's competition," coach Beth Alford-Sullivan said of her men’s team in a press release.
For the second straight year, the men took the distance medley relay at the Big Ten championships, with a foursome of Brannon Kidder, Matt Gilmore, Ryan Brennan, and Robby Creese.
In addition to winning the distance medley, Kidder and Brennan were two of the four participants in the 800-meter dash to advance to Saturday’s final, the others being freshman Za’Von Watkins and senior Ricky West.
Creese, as well as senior Tyler Corkdale also both advanced to Saturday’s final in the mile-run.
Lastly, junior Brandon Bennett-Green and senior Emunael Mpanduki advanced to the final for the 400-meter dash, and sophomore Sancho Barrett advanced to Saturday’s 60-meter hurdle final.
The Wisconsin men are currently leading the pack with 39 points after five events. The Nittany Lion men are in seventh place with 13 points.
The women’s team also got off to a hot start, including strong performances from senior Jane Swenson, juniors Melissa Kurzdorfer, Marlene Ricketts, and Brittney Howell, as well as junior Mahogany Jones.
"Our ladies showed up in championship form," Sullivan said. “I look forward to another Big Ten battle."
The women’s distance medley relay team of Abbie Benson, Dynasty McGee, Sarah Jane Underwood, and Marta Klebe finished fifth, but set a season-best time of 11:21.39, which also stands as the fifth fastest in Penn State history.
The true standout of the preliminaries on Friday evening was the sprints and hurdles group, which had Jones, set a personal record of 23.47 in the 200-meter dash. Jones will be competing in the finals for that event, as well as the 60-meter dash during Saturday’s finals. Teammates Kiah Seymour and Kirsten Nieuwendam will join Jones in competing in the 200-meter dash final.
Shelley Black, a freshman, advanced to the finals for the 60-meter hurdle, after achieving a personal record of 8.45 on Friday.
The Nebraska women are leading the early points race, with 50 points after six events completed. The Lion women are currently in sixth place with 19 points.