Thursday, March 26, 2015

Put Another Shrimp On The Barby!


Coach John Gondak is en route to Brisbane, Australia for another recruiting trip!  Knowing Hobart's sub-4 miler Ryan Foster (who has never had a Foster's beer!) makes me excited for the results of the trip.



Here's some useful advice for Coach during his travels...



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Men Ranked 15th in Outdoor Track Preseason Poll

The longest acronym in the world, the USTFCCCA, has the Nittany Lions ranked 15th in the preseason poll.  With a 12th place finish in the Indoor season and the addition of 2 high scoring athletes, Rob Cardina in the Decathlon and Michael Shuey in the Javelin, good things are ahead for us this season!  (The Women are ranked 35th.)  

Click on any of the teams below for a detailed look at all the athletes!  Like every race they ever ran!!

      Team                                                                      Coach
1 Texas A&M 390.50 SEC Pat Henry (11th)
2 Florida 384.72 SEC Mike Holloway (13th)
3 Oregon 325.99 Pac-12 Robert Johnson (3rd)
4 LSU 221.08 SEC Dennis Shaver (11th)
5 Texas 205.35 Big 12 Mario Sategna (2nd)
6 Arkansas 194.57 SEC Chris Bucknam (7th)
7 Southern California 170.63 Pac-12 Caryl Smith Gilbert (2nd)
8 Georgia 164.29 SEC Wayne Norton (16th)
9 Florida State 154.23 ACC Bob Braman (12th)
10 Texas Tech 146.56 Big 12 Wes Kittley (16th)
11 Alabama 145.14 SEC Dan Waters (4th)
12 Oklahoma State 132.77 Big 12 Dave Smith (7th)
13 Baylor 122.80 Big 12 Todd Harbour (10th)
14 Stanford 119.01 Pac-12 Chris Miltenberg (3rd)
15 Penn State 116.90 Big Ten John Gondak (1st)
16 Tennessee 115.25 SEC Beth Alford-Sullivan (1st)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

More on PSU's Last Male Distance Olympian


Greg Fredericks with someone familiar in the 70's.


Here's some recent thoughts from Larry Mangan who ran in the 1500M at the 1980 Olympic Trials and got to see first-hand, the last male PSU distance runner to make the Olympic team. I hope he doesn't mind me chiming in occasionally!  My thoughts in red.

I saw a post by someone on FB that bothered me a little bit when I read it, then really irritated the hell out of me as I thought about it a bit longer.  He claimed that he was the only runner to “try to win” the 1980 Olympic Trials 10K (and that he cried after the race), and that struck me as a bit hollow.

 I was track-side at the ‘80 Trials in large part because Greg Fredericks quietly showed up nearly every Monday and Wednesday that spring to do intervals with us.  When he wasn’t there, I assumed he was doing some other workout that crazy 10K guys preferred to do. On the days he did show up at the outdoor track – days that were dreary, cold, rainy, windy and cold (did I say cold?) – we inevitably ran 10x400 or 6x600 or 4x800 or some other workout (ok, those were the only three workouts) designed to separate us from our lunch.  (I had the pleasure to run exactly 1/2 of a workout with Greg that Summer, just before the Trials.  It was a 6 x Mile at 4:20 pace with a 400 jog between.  Several of us would run the first half with him of each mile.  I managed 3 2:10 halves that day...)

 In 1980, Greg was a married, 30-year old father who had a full time job running his own company.  (He had not made the team in the 2 previous Trials, which were supposedly his best chances!)  The rest of us were 20-21 year old bozos who couldn’t find their backsides with both hands. (I can attest to that also!) All through that spring I pushed myself to run with Greg as a training partner, sharing the load and trading lap after lap.  I tried to copy his flawless form and run as relaxed as possible, no matter how fast the pace.  In 1980 I ran a sub-4 mile, and qualified for the Olympic Trials, in large part because of Greg’s (and also because of Mike Wyatt, Bob Snyder, Alan Scharsu and John Ziegler) presence. When Greg passed Alberto Salazar with 2 laps to go in that ‘80s Trials 10K I was moved to tears as well.  That last 800 washed away the frustrations from ’72 and ’76 and was a perfect capstone to a great career. Craig Virgin may have won that race, but Greg EARNED his place in that race and in history.*

Thirty five years later, Greg continues to quietly show up every day to spend time with and care for our Coach.  He also keeps us connected to alumni and friends on a regular basis. He also helps with the Annual Reunion and Golf Outing, even though I can't get him to golf with us!  I don’t think I know of another person who has tried to “win” every day as steadfastly as Greg Fredericks.  I don’t think I know of another person who has been as successful.

*  There may be big news soon on this.  We may have video of that race and the rest of the 1980 Trials!  I'll do my best to bring it to you.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Another Invite For All

It's like a season of Debutante Balls! 

Only you don't need to study your manners or wear stultifying apparel to show up. Coach Gondak and the Program know the value of including the Alumni as much as possible.  Good things are happening...

Artists conception of the next Alumni Reunion Friday night meet and greet!


There will be another Social during the Florida Relays in Gainesville for those lucky enough to be located south of the Snow Belt!*


And don't forget the Penn Relays Social, either!

*The word Ale will guarantee a good PSU Track Alumni turn-out!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Can We Entice Horace Back Onto The Track?


The USATF Masters Indoor Championships were blessed with a world record in the 4x800 relay for those over the age of 90!  I have nothing but praise for these guys.  


But Al Porto and Horace Ashenfelter are both way better golfers than I and Horace still runs every other day.  And Al looked pretty darn spry to me at the Golf Tourney 2 years ago.  All we need to bring the title to 800U is 2 more willing 90 year-olds.  Anyone know any more?

Do Treadmill Miles Count?

In the "golden age" of my running career (hee hee hee), they didn't count at all.  So my lifetime totals are a little short because of that.  Add that to the numerous 15 milers that were really 18 miles, the 10 milers that were really 12, and I have nearly 74,000 total lifetime miles.

Even when I finally got a treadmill of my own in the early 90's, I was really ashamed that I was counting them.  But when I finally got that first kid, all that shame finally eroded.  Today, almost all of my miles are done on my treadmill.  I do realize that the purists out there (I used to be one of them) are shaking their heads with condemnation.  Oh, well...

I just had my 14 year-old treadmill serviced.  I have more than 14,000 miles on the beast in that time frame. It needed a new belt and the lubricant nozzle was somehow missing.  I figured there would be much more wrong with it, but everything else checked out fine.  I have a LifeFitness 9500 HR.  Anyone who ever has run on a treadmill at a club or hotel probably is familiar with this machine.  Really a durable and excellent model.  The only strike would be that it only goes to 12 mph and 15% incline.  (As if I ever have half a chance to run that fast ever again for even 100 yards! And forget uphill entirely.)



The technician servicing my beloved treadmill was great.  Apparently, he is known as a treadmill whisperer or something and has been doing it for quite awhile.  I recently visited his store and am amazed at the newer models of treadmills out there.  And the elliptical machine I will be obligated to one day switch to are quite fine also. They are smaller, less expensive and yet can take even the monumental pounding of a hobby-jogger (albiet a religious, every-day hobby-jogger) like me.

So anyone out there in Central PA with a home exercise machine, I give my full endorsement and confidence in Penn Fitness Warehouse and the head technician, Vitu Chiwaka.

And back to my original question, Do you count treadmill miles?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

An Invitation, A Mystery Alum and a New Friend

First up, here's an invitation for everyone to attend a reception at the Penn Relays!


Second, our Oregon Duck and Left Coast Friend Dan Martinez came across this pic of a golden era Nittany Lion.  Does anyone know who this is?


And last, but NOT least, is a preview of additional pics from my new friend Greg Reyner ('82 to '86).  Let's not let Greg know my Shot Put PR. Hope to see him on the Links soon!



Friday, March 20, 2015

The Coach/Athlete Relationship Is Complex


 It's a small world.  And one with way more than just 50 shades of gray.

Turns out Tim Johnson's dad  Jim Johnson ran for coach Jackson Horner and Assistant Coach Steve Gentry with a PSU teammate of mine, Bill Kvashay.  And he kept a detailed journal of his thoughts at the time. Tim shared some of them with me, pointing out the complexities of the coach/athlete dynamic.  Old-school philosophies may be few and far between nowadays, but I'm not sure that's a good thing...




"This journal obviously was written by an eleventh-grader, notably expressing the self-absorption of any teenager then or now. But it definitely expresses the emotions, both good and bad, of a teenager striving for personal and team success."   -Jim Johnson.

Anyone who takes half an hour to state who will go to the following day’s meet should not be heralded as a speaker, but there we all were, huddled around him, even those who knew they had no chance of making the meet. Jackson Horner is a good coach, an extremely good coach, as his record at State College High will attest. The whole track team can respect him as a coach. Why is it then that everybody fears him? During the season he probably affects our lives more than our family. We even feel nervous eating a doughnut if there is a chance he is around, even though there are no rules about eating on our team. Many conversations between teammates are about his bad points, but constant glances over the shoulder show that he is not forgotten. One thing every team member tries to avoid is getting into a talking match with him. As far as we know, the record is held by Jon Forster, with a discussion concerning student activities besides track; the talk lasted about forty-five minutes while the rest of us were jogging around an ice-covered track. Acting as a kind of buffer between the team and Horner is [assistant coach] Steve Gentry. He will joke with us about Horner when he is not there. However, when Bill Halpenny, a slightly built but good runner wanted to quit and told Mr. Gentry to tell Horner, Gentry wouldn’t do it. (After trying to get other team members tell Horner, Halpenny called Horner about a week later. Horner gave him a half-hour lecture and hung up.) Thus one can get a glimpse of the terror Horner installs in his runners and even his sub-coaches. 

Horner once was a state champion in the mile and a Golden Gloves boxing champ, but has since deteriorated physically. He still is pretty loose and spry, but has gained a large number of inches on his waistline, which Gentry refers to as the “Horner pot.” Horner still has enough left in him to chase his runners around the track a short distance, hitting or pushing them if they are not running to his liking. When Horner is mad, everyone watches out. On one indoor track day my sophomore year, as he came walking up to the track, the whole track team was kicking around a soccer ball. (The addition of Tom Szlega and other members of the “half track” men made things a little looser.) Horner ran up to the soccer ball and grabbed it. At first we though he was kidding, but all of us caught the evil glint in his eye. He got ready to kick the a thousand miles away, gave a mighty swish of his foot, missed the ball, and and landed flat on his back in the snow. All at once, each member of the team turned away and laughed, some out loud. Horner turned on Bill Dixon, a devoted runner who gave everything he had every race. It was the only time I ever saw Horner yell at Bill Dixon. Very luckily the track was snow covered and the only words Horner said to us after that were “Get jogging” and “Go on down.”

 Today was Altoona. Altoona didn’t have enough guys to run two races, so everyone ran in the varsity race. During the race, two guys stole some of our warmup fleece. While the team went to the school to get dressed, Horner was following a chain of witnesses beginning with a little boy on a bicycle. When we again met up with Horner and asked about the boys that took the fleece, Horner replied, “I scared the sh*t out of them.” With the aid of the Altoona coach, he got our fleece back. (Yea, Horner.)

"The stories about horner that my dad shared with me are what framed my own understanding of my own high school coach, and then Coach Groves." - Tim Johnson. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

More Coach Jackson Horner Goodness With Strong PSU Track Alumni Ties

I especially like Coach Horner's pants...  Takes me back to smiling memories.  I once fell off a pair of platform shoes when I tripped on my bell-bottoms.


This is a photo of the 1978 PIAA Cross Country Champions Note the PSU Track Alumni (Golfers) connections here.

Without help, I identify Coach Horner (1950's PSU captain), Nick K. (who still is running fast miles!), Dan Draper (where is he now?), Randy Moore (of 7:11.17 4 x 800 fame!), Brian Mount (our W & M connection and honorary Track Alumni Golfer), Bob Hudson (still with ginger locks!) and last but not least, Hugh Hamill (my foursome partner at last year's tourney!)

Others include John Dixon, John Coyle and Steve Phillips.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Great Coaches Are A Gift From God: The Coaching Staff In Heaven Just Got Better

In order to honor Coach Jackson Horner's passing, I knew my meager writing abilities would be insufficient.  I asked one of his very own stars to pen some thoughts for our blog.  My gratitude is only surpassed by my humility.  Thanks Bob Hudson!

From the "pen" of Bob Hudson...



Many of us on this blog have had the pleasure (well sometimes it was a pleasure) of being coached by a legend – Harry Groves. Whether we threw the Javelin, Put the Shot, jumped or ran we benefited from our time with Harry.

Some of us on this Blog also had the pleasure of having been coached by a 2nd coaching legend – Jackson Horner of State College High School. Jackson passed away this week and. As spent a little thinking about it, I was wondering why he had such a great impact on me.  When I was in high school we certainly butted heads on more than one occasion.  It occurred to me that he was not a coach, but really a teacher whose subject from 3-6 PM – and seemingly every weekend was track and field… and life


What is a coach – or at least a great coach?

A coach is like a parent. At the time you both hate them and love them. With the passage of time you realize that they, like a parent, only want the best for you. Instead of making you eat your vegetables, they make you do that extra lift or that additional interval.

A coach teaches you that the team matters – more than you matter. If you don’t show up for practice you are letting your teammates down. Coach Horner NEVER missed one day of school in 38 years.  If you don’t do the interval in the assigned time then the WHOLE team does it again! It was not the star who mattered, but the 4th and 5th men who made the difference in cross country.

A coach makes you do the impossible.  A kid who could not finish a 3 mile warm up becomes a state-runner up.  A team that goes almost 20 years without losing a dual meet, because he creates a culture in which the upper classmen demand excellence from newcomers.

A coach is like a CEO – he knows when to encourage and when to kick butt... sometimes simultaneously.


My coach had a storied career:

 He ran, and I believe he was captain of, the Penn State Cross country team.  If I recall Horace Ashenfelter was a teammate.

He coached a team that 50 years ago broke the national record in the 2 mile relay – only to have that last only a few hours thanks to Jim Ryan out in Kansas

He had a streak of dual meets wins in cross country that lasted 20 years – until broken by a Chambersburg team led by future Penn State Doug Walters.

He was listed in Faces in the Crowd by Sports Illustrated

He was in the National High School coaching hall of fame.

His accomplishments were many, but more than that, I think back on the life lessons he and Coach Groves taught us: Show up for practice, don’t give up, work hard and good things will happen!

It was ironic, because moments before hearing the news from a high school and Penn State friend of mine I was in a coffee shop. The manager was going crazy because an employee – a young kid – had not shown up for work and not even bothered to call in.

So what’s the moral of this too long story? The next time you are enjoying your cup of coffee thank the coach who taught your barista that showing up is over half the battle.  Thanks Jackson we will miss you!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Updates On Recent Events

 
First up, co-blogger Nick Scarpello helped organize and ran in the Encinitas Mile.  He placed 7th overall in 4:27.  No word on the use of the Alumni Singlet.

Nick Scarpello 2nd from right.


Next, Beth Shisler and son Alex Shisler helped celebrate his All-American status with Beth's coach during her All-American past.  Coach Gary Schwartz retired to the Arkansas area following his great career.


Beth (Stever) Shisler in the lead.

Coach Schwartz with his wife and the Shislers.

And Kara (Millhouse) Foster placed 9th at the USATF 15 K Championships Gate River Run.

Kara Foster at the finish.

The top ten women.



























Monday, March 16, 2015

March Madness Pool Is Back: Jump On In, The Water's Fine

Ken Cooper's twenty-first annual NCAA basketball bracket pool is back. This is mostly for pride. It's the next best thing to getting your name engraved on the Coach Harry Groves Memorial Cup!

Welcome to the 21st Annual Penn State XC/T&F March Madness Pool.  I dare you to take Kentucky.

Everyone is in the Pool.  It is free and pride only.  Last year we had 126. 

Picks due by tip off of first Thursday game.


2nd Annual Pay-In Sub-Pool:  If interested, you can pay $10 per set of picks and be part of the winner-take-all part of the tourney.  Last year, former U of Wisconsin standout Michelle Lilienthal won $240 as 24 people participated in the cash pool.  Please send $10 via paypal to psucoop@hotmail.com.  Payments due by first game on Thursday to be eligible for this side-pool.

You get all play-in games right.  You can take either team as far as you want.

Please designate your division:

1        Kid – 8th Grade and Under
      Kid – HS/College
3       Penn State (Hoops Team)
         Penn State Grad (non XC/T & F)
      Spouse/Sig Other of Penn State XC/T & F
6       PSU T & F (Distance)
7       PSU T & F (Field/Multi)
     PSU T & F (Mid-Dist)
      PSU T & F (Sprint)
1     Non PSU (XC/T & F)
       Non PSU (Non-XC or T &F)

Good luck.

Coop
 
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