With almost every spring collegiate season in the rearview mirror, there’s just one event left on Penn State’s calendar: the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
This week, seven Nittany Lions will head to Eugene, Oregon, to compete in a variety of events with the nation's best athletes.
Given the cancellation of last year’s championship due to the coronavirus pandemic, this will be the first opportunity for athletes to compete for an outdoor national championship in almost two years.
Among the participants Penn State is sending, five will have competed for national championships before, while two are making the trip to the NCAAs for the first time.
Here’s how they’ve gotten to this point.
Maddie Holmberg, heptathlon
Maddie Holmberg comes into the NCAA Championships having won the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Field Athlete of the year, making this season the second time in her career she’s been given the award.
Additionally, the senior took home her second Big Ten Championship of her career and became Penn State’s first Big Ten heptathlon champion since 2014.
Holmberg’s 5839 heptathlon score this season ranked eighth in the NCAA, and she should have her name among the favorites in this week's competition.
Mark Porter, javelin
After placing 11th in the NCAA East Preliminaries last week, Mark Porter qualified for the NCAA Championships for the second time in his career.
He’ll try to replicate his performance from his first appearance in 2019, where he threw 68.31 meters and earned Second Team All-American honors.
David Lucas, discus
A former NCAA Indoor Weight Throw Champion, David Lucas joined Holmberg as the Men’s winner of the Mid-Atlantic Field Athlete of the Year this season.
He comes into the NCAA Championship having already won the Big Ten with his season-best throw, which was the top distance for the entire Big Ten and Mid-Atlantic region as well.
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Evan Dorenkamp, 800m
Evan Dorenkamp comes into the 2021 NCAA Championship as a sophomore, making this his first appearance in the outdoor championships.
In the East Regional, he ran a personal-best 1:49.11 in the 800-meter run to qualify.
Dorenkamp will try to replicate some of the recent success the Nittany Lions have had in this event, with eight runners previously finishing as All-Americans for Penn State since 2009.
Tyler Merkley, hammer throw
Tyler Merkley punched his ticket to Eugene after tossing a 67.47-meter throw in the NCAA Preliminaries last week.
It’ll be his first appearance in the NCAA tournament as a Nittany Lion but the second of his career.
The former Kansas State Wildcat took second in the 2016 Big 12 Championship and placed 21st in the NCAA Tournament that season.
Noah Swaby, decathlon
Noah Swaby qualified for the NCAA Championship well before his teammates, finishing in the top 12 in the Mid-Atlantic region and securing an automatic spot.
It’s the second time Swaby has qualified for the championship in his career but the first time he’ll compete due to an injury prior to the 2019 championship.
Danae Rivers, 1500m
Regardless of how she performs this week, Danae Rivers has had nothing short of a remarkable career at Penn State.
This week, she’ll be making her tenth combined appearance at an NCAA national meet between track and field and cross country.
The senior was already coming into the season with 11 Penn State records, 10 Big Ten Championships and three Mid-Atlantic Woman Track Athlete of the Year awards.
Rivers ran her best time of the season in the East Preliminaries and will look to add to her eye-popping number of accolades in her final time donning blue and white.
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