For more than six years, John Gondak has been the assistant coach of the cross country and track teams at Penn State, and now his dedication and tenure have paid off.
Director and head coach of Penn State track and cross country program Beth Alford-Sullivan announced that Gondak has been promoted to associate head coach.
"It's exciting time for John to have received this promotion," said Sullivan in a GoPSUSports press release. "In the previous six years, he has done a tremendous job in recruiting and really helping shape the direction of our program. It is certainly well deserved and it's been a great honor to work with him over the years. I look forward to continuing to work with John in the future."
In his six years of service, Gondak, who oversees the middle and long distance student-athletes, has coached 10 first-team All Americans and 12 Big Ten champions.
That includes some of the most successful athletes at Penn State, like former Big Ten champion Ryan Foster, current sophomore Robby Creese and senior Casimir Loxsom, who ran the 800 meter prelims at the U.S. Olympic Trials this past summer.
"We have accomplished many great feats with the program and will continue to strive to achieve at the highest level," Gondak said in the press release. "Penn State is one of the best Universities in the world and a premier place to be a student-athlete. I believe our success in Cross Country/Track and Field, along with the success we achieve in all of our sports in Happy Valley, demonstrates this."
The Penn State women rode the momentum from their recent regional championship to a 14th place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships Saturday in Louisville, Ky.
Oregon ultimately won the women’s national championship with 114 points. Penn State earned 387 points to finish second among Big Ten schools at the meet, with only Michigan finishing ahead of them with a fifth-place result
Junior Victoria Perri, who was running in her first national championships, was the first Nittany Lion to complete the 6,000-meter course with her 47th-place overall.
Perri saved her best performance of the season for last, running the course in 20:21.4, which is personal record for her. The junior capped off her surprising season by becoming one of only five runners to finish in the top 50 overall for Penn State in the women’s national championship race since 1998.
Junior Rebekka Simko, another newcomer to the national championships, finished second on the team and 71st overall with a time of 20:35.5.
Simko was followed by seniors Brooklyne Ridder and Natalie Bower, who finished third and fourth for the Lions. Both Ridder and Bower have now become the sixth and seventh athletes in Penn State history to run in the national championships four times.
Sam Masters was the only runner on the men’s team to represent Penn State at the meet. He finished his cross country career with a time of 32:25.9 on the 10,000-meter course to earn 231st overall in the men’s race.
Prior to the meet, coach Beth Alford-Sullivan accepted her Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year award during the NCAA Cross Country Banquet.
The Penn State program now will look towards the indoor track and field season that starts Dec. 15 with the Blue-White Intrasquad Meet.
The Penn State women's cross country team took home its first NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on Friday, narrowly edging out reigning national champion Georgetown to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships this weekend.
The Nittany Lions and had three runners finish in the top 10, including junior Victoria Perri -- who finished fourth overall.
Here's some footage of the start of Friday's race:
In what was a close race, the Penn State women were able to pull out the upset and become regional champions.
With beautiful weather conditions Friday at the Blue and White Golf Course, the women were able to score 61 points, just edging out second-place Georgetown’s 63 points for the Mid-Atlantic crown.
Both Penn State and Georgetown have now earned automatic qualifying team bids to the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
The Nittany Lions had an impressive finishing stretch with three of their runners finishing in the top ten overall.
Junior Victoria Perri led the women’s side with a fourth place finish and a time of 20:31 in the 6,000-meter course. Senior Brooklyne Ridder was able to finish sixth followed closely behind by junior Rebekka Simko, who finished 10th.
Sophomore Leigha Anderson and junior Emily Giannotti rounded out the scoring five runners for this championship squad.
The overall winner of the women’s race was Villanova’s Nicky Akande who finished the race in 20:14.
The Penn State men’s team also had a strong day finishing fifth in the region, scoring 147 points.
The Georgetown men won the Mid-Atlantic Region with 56 points, just one point better than second-place Villanova.
Graduate student Sam Masters ran well in his first Regionals, running the 10,000-meter course in 30:48 to earn a 12th place finish and a possible individual bid to Nationals.
Senior Tyler Jones, junior Nick Scarpello, senior Tyler Corkedale, and freshman Robby Creese made up the second through fifth scoring spots respectively for Penn State.
The overall winner for the men’s race was Temple’s Travis Mohaney who ran the course in 30:24.
The Penn State women will look to continue their success as the move on to the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Ky. on Nov. 17.
After staying home for the first two meets of the 2012 season, the Penn State cross country teams hit the road for the Greater Louisville Classic at Tom Sawyer Park.
The women’s team proved to be road warriors as three members finished in the top 30 in the womens 5K gold. The team as a whole racked up 161 points to finish in fifth place out of the 31 teams in the field.
The fifth place finish for the women, ranked 17th in the nation, was even more impressive considering the star-studded field of teams involved in the Classic. The Nittany Lions outpointed No. 8 Vanderbilt as well as conference foe No. 29 Wisconsin.
Junior Rebekka Simko led the way for the women, finishing in 15th place, while teammate junior Tori Perri finished close behind at 17th place. Senior Brooklyn Ridder came in at 26th place to round out the top three for Penn State.
Arizona, with 71 points, came away with the victory after narrowly defeating top-ranked Washington who finished with 80.
On the men's side, senior Sam Masters and sophomore Matt Fischer paced the team with 17th and 37th place finishes respectively. The team as a whole finished in tenth place out of the 31 teams involved after accumulating 303 points.
This served as the second consecutive race in which Masters found himself in the top 20 after finishing 13th at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational on September 8.
The tenth place finish at Tom Sawyer Park is encouraging for Penn State as that same venue is set to host the NCAA Cross Country Championships in November.
The team also performed well against a loaded entry list that included No. 6 Texas, No. 8 Iona and Big Ten foe Michigan State. The Spartans served as the first conference opponent for Penn State.
The eighth-ranked Gaels, with 47 points, claimed first place in a landslide victory over the rest of the pack. Columbia University finished in second place with 110 points.