Sunday, June 17, 2018

Two Wonderful Additions To The Penn State Track Alumni Family


First up is the recognition as Track Athlete of the Year from the Big Ten Conference for 800U's Isaiah Harris.  In a week he will be on the line at the USATF Championships.  Will it be a continued headband, an Alumni-like Singlet, an alumni Wristband or maybe all three?



And the world got a little bit better last week by 7 pounds and 7 ounces.  Luke Fuller was born to our very own Brian and Emily Fuller.  Brian's excuse for missing this year's golf outing has therefore been sanctioned by unanimous consent of the hierarchy.  Congrats Brian and Emily.


Monday, June 11, 2018

Four More All-Americans


The Nittany Lions ended up with 3 Men scoring and 3 Women scoring.  So that means both teams ended up with 3 First Team All-Americans.  The Men placed in a tie for 18th Place and the Women placed 24th.  Another very solid year for the blue and white!

For the Men, the only one not mentioned so far is David Lucas, who placed 7th in the Discus with 186' 7".  With his National title in the Indoor Weight Throw, it certainly was a great year.


Three Lady Lions (Are we still allowed to say that?) gathered points and All-American status.  They were led by Heptathlete Maddie Holmberg in 3rd.


Right behind her, placing 4th in the rainy High Jump was Megan McCloskey with a clutch clearance of 5' 10".


And Danae Rivers closed out her Sophomore year with 8th in the 1500M and 2 of her top 3 times ever.





Saturday, June 9, 2018

Isaiah Harris NCAA Champion!

I can’t wait to talk to the alumni as they’ve been so supportive of us over the years.”
Isaiah Harris

The retro Singlet is always appreciated!




There has been a long line of excellent Penn State "2-lappers" who have paved the road that we affectionately call 800U.  And never mind that there are hundreds of others that weren't 800M runners among our group that have also helped cement that moniker even into the national Press.

The 800M is my favorite race to watch and I really enjoyed running it in high school. I just didn't have the talent to pull it off on a bigger stage.  But I consider myself fairly knowledgable on the event.  Watching Penn State half-milers over the last 20 years has been really fun.

Some notable PSU 800M runners I have had the pleasure to watch in the last 18 years
  • Brannon Kidder
  • Casimir Loxsom
  • Domenic Perretta
  • Matt Lincoln
  • Owen Dawson
  • Robby Creese
  • Ryan Foster
  • Sam Borchers
Add these guys to the other generations of middle distance specialists in the preceding generations all the way back to Alan Helffrich (1922-1923 800M NCAA Champion!) and you have 800U!

But all we were missing was another NCAA Champion in modern times.  And it hasn't been easy.  In the last several years there have been overwhelming dominant winners from domestic and afar.  Were we again to be satisfied with an incredible performance only to be celebrating another second place NCAA finish? (Brannon Kidder 2015, Casimir Loxsom 2013, Isaiah Harris 2017)

Very few had Isaiah Harris being able to slay the returning winner and NCAA record-holder Michael Saruni.  Very few except Isaiah and his coach, John Gondak.  They had a plan, and they had a program.  Us lucky Alumni who visited them a few weeks ago got to see that up close and personal.  And many of us started to believe.

The race was run to precision by Isaiah.  He demonstrated his intellect and wisdom at every stage. The fast opening lap of 51.x or so (rough guess) putting him in 5th place right near Saruni. It wasn't anything he hasn't done many times before.  He didn't panic, and held steady until the middle of the backstretch of the second lap.  Anticipating the surge of Saruni, Isaiah gently eased into the lead monentarily before Saruni rushed past, gaining a two-stride lead at the finish of the last turn.  He didn't panic, as Isaiah said he "saw blood" at that point, and knew that Saruni had used too much getting to where he was.

The last 100 meters was what all of us Alumni (Golfers) have been waiting for for "a few" years now. As Isaiah slipped by the defending champion, you could sense that the drought was finally over!

Isaiah eased a tad at the finish, possibly giving up another School Record, but nobody, including him, seems to care. Penn State was on the top of the podium!

Just last week I complimented Isaiah by noting that he has excelled in the classroom also, making all of us proud.  He also demonstrated his humility in post race interviews by including the Alumni in his thoughts.  I think he realizes how much we support the program's success in every aspect.  Any future 800 specialists out there have a role model and a college destination being represented with the highest recommendation posssible.

 




Friday, June 8, 2018

Sharp Dressed Men (And Women)


Our Golden Putter Attendant has forwarded us a pic of the Nittany Lions at the NCAA Championships in Oregon.  Thanks to Karl Tewold for the submission!


And here's another one from the team itself...




Thursday, June 7, 2018

All-American Morgan Shigo And A Little Surprise


It was another clutch performance for the Penn State throws squad on day1 of the NCAA Championships.  Morgan Shigo bested his seeding in the Hammer Throw to make it to the Finals.  Then he tossed back-to-back School Records on his last 2 throws to place 6th with his 237' 9" heave.


And with no Nittany Lions in the 10000M race, who should I root for?  Well, how bout this guy from Michigan who I met last year over breakfast at the Hampton Inn during our Alumni Reunion and Golf Tourney Weekend...

Ben Flanagan with Coach Maguire, Michigan.
In a seeming major upset, Ben Flanagan ran an incredible 57 second last lap and won the NCAA 10K Championship for the Big M. I salute this former walk-on with all the gusto I would for one of our own.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Latest Award For A PSU Track Athlete Really Pleases Me


Recently, three Penn State Track and Field athletes were honored with Athlete of the Year honors by the USTFCCCA.  High honors for the whole season for 3 really worthy student athletes.

  • MID-ATLANTIC REGION MEN’S TRACK ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
    Isaiah Harris, a junior from Lewiston, Maine, is ranked second nationally in the 800 with a time of 1:45.31. The Big Ten champion in the event and Big Ten Championships record holder in the 800, he is headed to Tracktown next week. Harris also anchored the winning Sprint Medley Relay at the Penn Relays in 1:44.7.
  • MID-ATLANTIC REGION WOMEN’S TRACK ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
    Danae Rivers, a sophomore from Derby, Connecticut, became the first Nittany Lion to win the Big Ten Championship in the 1500. Her time of 4:10.82 in the event at the Florida Relays set a school record and ranked fifth, nationally. She will compete in the 1500 at the NCAA Championships next week.
  • MID-ATLANTIC REGION WOMEN’S FIELD ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
    Maddie Holmberg, a junior from Greensburg, Pennsylvania, ranked fifth nationally in the heptathlon this year with a point total of 5976. She finished second at the Big Ten Championships in the event, and will travel to the NCAA Championships next week. Holmberg also scored in the Long Jump with a mark of 6.37m (20-103/4).
And to top it off, Isaiah Harris has been recognized as an Academic All-American as a Kinesiology Major. These three represent their Alumni fans in our group with the best any of us could hope for! Kudos, all around.

Notice the Group Wrist Band put to wonderful use!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Scenes From The 2018 Coach Groves Golf Tourney


Did I mention that I won?
















Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Penn State Track And Field Alumni Golfers Promoted!


Not me.  I'm still a lowly regarded employee at my own business. But I'm really better at it than I am at golf...

Ryan Foster and Jess Riden (both Officers of our group!) have been promoted in the Track World.

Ryan Foster was named Assistant Coach at Tennessee, joining former Coach Alford-Sullivan at Rocky Top.  He takes his numerous Coach of the Year honors at Division II Edinboro and his wonderful wife Kara Millhouse south of the Mason-Dixon Line.  Our Tennessee friend and All-American, Patrick Davey is delighted.  He also joins Assistant Coach Steve Waithe. The Orange is starting to get a little more Blue, isn't it?


And Jess Riden has stepped up at Stanford to Assistant Athletic Director!  Congrats.


Both have golfed in our Golf Tourney and Ryan was able to pull off the "Adam Sandler" tee shot better than anyone among us ever has.

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Good Weekend


The Nittany Lions qualified 7 individuals and the Mens 4 x 100M team for the NCAA Championships at Hayward Field in a week and a half.

  1. Morgan Shigo   -  Hammer Throw   223' 11"      10th
  2. Steph Sievers   -   Javelin       159'11"                  10th
  3. Megan McCloskey   -   High Jump     5' 10.75"    5th
  4. Isaiah Harris    -    800M                   1:46.80        4th
  5. Michael Biddle  -     Javelin               208' 6.25"     9th
  6. David Lucas   -    Discus Throw          187' 2"      4th
  7. Danae Rivers   -   1500M                     4:11.75     3rd
  8. 4 x 100M Relay  -                               39.61         12th  (Will Henderson, Anton Porter, Xavier Smith, Malik Moffett)
  9. We must not forget (I did) that Madeline Holmberg previously qualified in the heptathlon!
And Tyler McCandless has improved at every Boulder Boulder he has run, cumninating in this year's victory.


Tyler McCandless Boulder, CO M31 30:54.76 4:59
2015 - 26th, 32:35
2016 - 6th, 32:05
2017 - 4th, 31:04
2018 - 1st, 30:54









Saturday, May 26, 2018

Unsung Hero No Longer


One of Founder Clark Haley's original rules for the Coach Groves Golf Tournament was the random draw of foursomes on the Friday night before the tourney.

This ensures that most of us will meet new members of our community every year.  It also ensures that we will then realize the things we all have in common as well as learn the wonderful differences we all have.  There's nothing like golfing with a member of a 1950s National title team one year and a graduate from last year the next!

And our best-ball format means that literally anyone can participate AND contribute to the foursome. No one knows this better than 2-time winners like Brian Boyer and now ME!

Nearly every year we talk a non-golfer to play with us.  This year we persuaded Dick Geiger to jump into the tourney.  Well, maybe it took a few drinks Friday night in addition!

It turns out that Dick has some interesting credentials to solidify him as solid Officer of our group.

  • Dick related a story from 1960-something detailing a running shoe and jocks only distance run forced upon the Freshman.  (Greg Fredericks denies all knowledge of this.)  The Yanomamo from the late 70-something years must admit reverence for their elders on this point! We know that this story is true, as it was one of the first times the fledgling new Coach, Harry Groves got in trouble with the higher-ups.  This signaled the first of many Wednesday morning chewing-outs for Coach Groves during his 38 year tenure.
  • Dick was a State Champion team member of York County's Spring Grove Cross Country team which also included a friend of mine David Mosebrook, an avid track/cross country fan who ran for Coach Dolan at Lock Haven following the State Championship.  And that is the very same Coach Dolan that headed up the Freshman team of Greg Fredericks before heading to Lock Haven!  It is no wonder that Lock Haven and Penn State have a close team friendship reflected in the Dolan Duels every year.
  • It turns out that Dick was the very first of hundreds of  Coach Groves walk-ons, a group that includes me and many of my readers.  Coach Groves may be the finest coach of walk-ons to ever coach in the college ranks.  I thank him every day for the opportunity he granted me all those years ago.
  • We should also thank Dick for the generous donation to our efforts to fund the Coach Groves Scholarship.  His substantial bequeath was the one that put us over-the-top to actually fully fund the tuition scholarship in Coach's name.  Donations will continue to fully fund the scholarship to include tuition and room and board awards.

Thus, Dick has been awarded the Officer Status of Walk-On Progenitor Excelsior

Dick Geiger accepting the Rob Whiteside Brotherhood Award from Founder Clark Haley.

Dick Geiger, second from right, with his foursome and Clark Haley.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Our Founder Won Both Putting Contests


Founder Clark Haley was triumphant in both the Friday night Hotel and the Saturday Golf Course putting contest.  And he donated all of his winnings back to the total that will be given to the PSU Track Program!

Clark lines up the 50-footer that he then sunk! Photo by Digital Archive goddess Kay Warfel.

Monday, May 21, 2018

It Took Me Twelve Tries To Repeat!


Honestly, my foursome played well enough to come in 4th in our tourney of 6 foursomes.  I contributed little to the effort on a rather tough day to golf.  The foursomes picked at the Friday night reception were as evenly matched as any have ever been in our 17 year history.

But somehow, the gods shined down upon the struggling foursome of Steve Brown, Steve Brown Jr., Brian Laird and me,  making us the Champions of the 2018 Coach  Harry Groves Golf Tournament.  At (-1) for the tourney, it is one of the worst winning scores we have had.

Unfortunately, I had to leave early and didn't get to make it to the Awards Dinner and Clark Haley Comedy Show, but I will pass along the rest of the results when I can.

Steve Brown Jr., Steve Brown, Brian Laird and me.
 
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