20th Annual Penn State Track and Field/XC Reunion

And SAVE THE DATE! The Executive Committee meeting of the Officers of the Group convened and chose the dates for the 2022 Reunion and Coach Groves Golf Tournament. This will be the 20th anniversary of the formulation of this whole shebang, and you better SAVE THE DATE!! So set aside May 13th and 14th, 2022. (Each year will alternate between May and August) We will be going all out for this event and you won't want to miss it. Adult beverages, camaraderie with old and new friends, mediocre golf, AND LIVE MUSIC FROM PROFESSIONALS! Stay tuned...

Friday, October 31, 2014

Special Halloween Edition: With Bears and Christopher Walken

Happy Halloween everybody.  Halloween is now the second most expensive holiday in terms of money spent, having passed Mother's Day and Valentine's Day in recent years.  I'll never understand it.

Anyway, here's another creepy (probable) murder (3rd 2nd story) in Happy Valley like the Pattee Stacks Murder that has never been solved. It involves State College and Philadelphia's Chinatown, two of my homesteads for significant periods in my life. Creepy.

Hyun Jong “Cindy” Song was a 21-year-old South Korean student attending Pennsylvania State University. In 2001, she dressed up in a bunny costume and attended a Halloween party at a nightclub in State College. After leaving the club, Cindy spent the next few hours hanging out with her friends before she was dropped off at her apartment at 4:00 AM. This was the last anyone ever saw of her. After Cindy was reported missing, a search was conducted of her apartment. There was no sign of any struggle, but many of her belongings, including the false eyelashes from her costume, were there, indicating that she had gone inside after being dropped off. But what happened to her afterward?
Shortly thereafter, a witness reported seeing a woman resembling Cindy in the Chinatown district of Philadelphia. This woman was inside a vehicle with an unidentified male and crying out for help. A bizarre lead came about in 2003 when a Luzerne County man named Hugo Marcus Selenski was arrested after the remains of five people were found buried in his backyard.
Even though none of these remains belonged to Cindy, an informant told police that Selenski and an accomplice named Michael Jason Kerkowski Jr. had abducted her. After Cindy was raped and murdered, the two men allegedly buried her body at another location. Kerkowski’s remains were found in Selenski’s backyard, and the informant claimed Kerkowski was murdered for keeping Cindy’s bunny ears as a souvenir. Thus far, no evidence was found to tie Selenski to Cindy’s disappearance, but in January 2014, the burned remains of a dozen more people were found buried on his property. It remains to be seen if any of them will be identified as Cindy Song.
  And Bear stories are a meme here, in case you didn't know.  Did I ever tell you about the time...

And here's some bears fighting it out as if they are at the 14th Annual Coach Groves Golf Tourney following the Marquis of Queensbury rules.  Remember, no springs in your shoes.

And just when you started to make fun of me for being scared of running into a bear, we have this episode of a bear killing a Big Ten member.  What is it with New Jersey?

NJ student may have died in state’s first fatal bear attack in 150 years

And last, but never least here's Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven as read by Christopher Walken.  You are welcome.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Coach Groves Continues to Improve

Word has filtered out that Coach Groves made another step toward getting fully back on his feet today, as he now is out of the 24/7 control of attentive nurses. Now they are there only if he needs them. So everyone so inclined, say a prayer for him and his munificent overseers Greg and Gunny.  Here's hoping Coach will soon be able to kick all of our a$$es as necessary again.

And it's good to know that the Team and Program have his back too, as evidenced by this huge get well card.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Be Careful With Those Drones


"Operators who fly drones or model planes near or over large sports stadiums and auto racetracks are breaking the law and can be fined and imprisoned for up to a year, the Federal Aviation Administration warned in a notice posted on the agency's website.

The notice marks the first time the FAA has sought to criminalize the use of drones and model planes, attorneys representing drone users said............"

No word on whether those flying drones at cross country meets with be subject to harassment from authorities. I certainly hope not because you can't beat the view of the race they provide.

Bob Kennedy Is Back Baby!

Well, sorta kinda anyway.

Bob Kennedy, 5000 M Olympic Trial Champion 1996.

I can relate to his story.  I'll bet there are a lot of stories just like it.  Except he was at the top of the heap when he ran his final race. On pace for a 2:10 marathon at the halfway mark, and then  POOF, it was gone.  He didn't run again for 5 years.  And then it was just sporadically.  He was over 200 lbs at one point, big even for a rather big elite runner.  And now he's back,  entered in the NYC Marathon.  He thinks he'll run in the 3:20 to 3:30 range, which isn't bad for a 44 year old.  I had the same goal in my last race at age 37.  (I didn't make it.  I blame PEDs like echinacea and creatine and not general suckiness! hee hee hee)

Well, Bob, welcome to the fold.  Glad you could join us. Hobby jogging ain't half bad, no matter what the haters say.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Now Physicists Are Even Crowding Us Podiatrists

I never argue with patients.  Well, almost never.  In the thousands of times a patient has admonished me for "not cutting their nails straight across" I've held my tongue with the knowledge that the consumer is always right, even when they are spectacularly wrong.   I do the same when confronted by women with all sorts of overuse injuries at the end of every summer refusing to believe that their "good" flip-flops could possibly be the cause.  Or that the 6:1 ratio of bunionectomies in women:men isn't due to "good" women's shoes. (Not the cause of the bunion, just the cause of the need of a surgical fix, mind you.)

Well, now I have a formula to throw back at those with ingrown toenails, developed by physicists, to explain the cause of them.  Not that it matters in the slightest.  I still have to fix them.  And no patient ever believes what a doctor tells them anyway, be it a podiatrist or a Physicist!

Monday, October 27, 2014

World Speed Golf

The World SpeedGolf Chapionship concluded over the weekend. This year's event featured Olympian Nick Willis who placed 17th after leading on day 1. More info on the event here

I still say we should incorporate this into Alumni Weekend. It may be the only way I won't embarrass myself on the golf course.

In other news here's the deer that made its way into the Days Inn Penn State early Friday morning. Unfortunately they failed tranquilize the animal and had to "dispatch" it. Guess he doesn't know that all hotels in State College are booked months in advance for football weekends.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Alumni Singlet Spotted on the Left Coast!

Co-Blogger Nick Scarpello and Tyler McCandless.
Co-Blogger Nick Scarpello unveiled his fairly new Alumni singlet in his adopted land out west at the Surfing Madonna 5K Saturday in Encinitas, CA.  The previous victories at the Sea Isle City Beach Run prepared Tyler McCandless for his 3rd place finish.  (And note the PSU head-band on Tyler, since he can't wear his Alumni Singlet.)  Nick placed 8th in PSU splendor!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

There's Nothing Better Than Cross Country In State College!

Except maybe running through the lobby of the Days Inn downtown without any clothes on!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Penn State Javelin Thrower Carl Wolter Hit The Longest Ever Drive In Competition

And he's going for his THIRD World Championship.  But I still wouldn't bet against our 2-time Longest Driver Beth Shisler at next year's tourney.

Group Members Shine At PIAA District 3 Championships

Mark Haywood, now the Head Coach of the Camp Hill Cross Country teams led his team to the Boy's Team Title in the A Division.  Congrats to all!

Coach Haywood, top right.
Honorary member and William and Mary conduit Brian Mount had his Gettysburg team improve this year to 9th place, with his first boy taking second place overall.

Gettysburg XC
And Daughter the Younger's York Suburban team placed first in the Boys and Girls AA team races.  The boys dominated with a total spread of just 41 seconds.  The girls did quite well considering they were without their top runner and had 3 Freshman, 1 Sophomore and a Junior scoring.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tim Johnson Helps Us Relive Those Great High School Championships

The PIAA District 3 Cross Country Championships are on Saturday  this afternoon in Hershey.  And Group Member (and real writer) Tim Johnson helps us relive those great times in another great article for Penn Live.

Tim Johnson, third from left.

I have a few things in common with Tim and a few things different, other than the writing abilities.

  • We both had a top finish of 7th at the PIAA District 3 XC Meet. (In my defense, I did get 5th at States the next week.)
  • We both aren't great golfers, although he is still way better than me.
  • We both cherish our time at PSU.
Not Similar:

  •  He ran at Districts all four years of HS.  I never made it until I was a Senior.  (correction: he only ran 3 years at Districts.  He played football as a Freshman.)
  • He loves being in the stadium for PSU football games.  I can't stand it. 
Anyway, here's his article from Penn Live:

"That’s the true beauty of this meet. In just 16 or 20 minutes’ time on Wednesday afternoon, stories will be written, champions will be crowned, and the great mystery of the 2014 season will, at long last, be put largely to rest. Months’ worth of blood, sweat, and tears have been collected — only to be left behind on the hills of Parkview on a singular October afternoon."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

If This Guy Keeps Talking About Drones, I'm Going To Ask For A Refund On My Platinum Membership!

I will honor any of you who desire a refund on your group membership at any time!  But more about drones!

This is the upgrade version.

Bob Paddison has sent me the link for the raw footage he took of the 8th Annual Hood College Open I attended last week.  It was a fairly windy day, so it wasn't easy for him.  And once I bothered him during the race, I think the drone took off toward Washington DC to report me to the authorities. His upgraded drone had the ability to be summoned back "home" however.  But he recovered for a nice view of the finish of the men's race.  I even got to see Daughter the Elder's teammate Joe Fletcher finish without his shoe in 30th or so place (at 9:45 of the video), which he kicked off in front of me just before the finish.  This inevitably brought the wrath (not really!) of Coach Preston, who reminds them about double knots before every race!  Then he has a good view of the Women's start (starting at 11:37) where I could pick out Daughter the Elder, me, dad, Coach Preston and Daughter the Younger.

He has some advice on those looking to purchase a low-cost unit:

Regarding the $500 dollar version.  If you are asking, just a few thought to consider. 

1.      The Battery system in the original Phantom drone is awkward with a two cable charge/feed system. It is clunky to plug in and stuff the wires into the drone.   The Phantom 2 has an integrated battery connection.
2.      The Camera system if using a go pro camera has two considerations.  
a.      The gopro mount does not have a gimbal system.  It does have vibration dampening.  (and I like GoPro). 
b.      The gopro system (and I think even the Phantom 2) do not have FPV (first person view) video that comes back to the operator, so you are sort of operating in the blind (that’s the video you were looking at on my cell phone during the race, the actual video is recorded in full resolution on an internal memory card.)  It’s not that this capability cannot be added however it takes a little (read “a lot”)   hobby tinkering. To add that capability it looks odd with lots of extras hanging off the platform.   It all depends on your hobby skills.  Like anything,  if you build it yourself you can get additional features but the integrated system included with the “Phantom 2 Vision +”,  I think is still the best ‘out of the box’ experience.
3.      Make sure you have at least 1 or more additional batteries  The Phantom (std) has only about a 15 minute flying time versus the ‘Phantom 2vision +’  about 25 min.    Keep in mind you will be loitering for long periods of time to be in position prior to the starting gun.  As such you will need at least 2 batteries for each XC race (assuming ~27 to 30 min per race).
4.      The ‘Phantom 2 vision+” also includes self-locking propellers.  A very good safety feature(common in most systems now but not in earlier versions).
5.      I am not sure if the original version of the Phantom (the $500 version) supports “Ground Station”.  Ground station (GS) is a GPS system that allows you to pre-program GPS locations and vertical height for a programmed path and out view flying.    While I would like to use GS for XC races I find that because of the speed of the racers ‘free flying’ gives you more control (although you may not feel that I had much control when you see the Hood video).  It was very windy on Saturday, I normally don’t fly above 15 or so Knots.   The drone can fly in higher winds but I was not willing to fly that close to runners in case of stronger gusts.   I have flown in up to 25 mph winds but not near people. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Finally, A Marathon Plan For The Common Man

"I thought I hit the wall, but I just dug deep."

"I just never gave up hope..."  

"I feel like I'm born again."

-Bill Murray, training for the NYC Marathon.

He's mastered golf already, and he's a Heck of a good running coach.  So I believe!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Co-Blogger Becomes a Very Sweet Professional

Apparently, ex-PSU-800M man Matt Groves has successfully made the transition to the half-marathon.  He won the Hershey Half-Marathon with a negative split! And he not only won cash, he won chocolate too.  And that's just in time to beat the coming rise in chocolate prices due to the West African Ebola crisis.  Congrats Matt!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Still More Drones, On My Birthday!! (With a Metaphysical Encounter Confirming My Convictions, Which You Don't Need To Read)

I attended the Hood College Open where I added Community College and Junior College to my Divisions of the World's Greatest Sport I have seen so far this year.  Daughter the Elder ran in her Penn State (Mont Alto) uniform and chopped a minute (and a half! ed.) off her time from last week in the 6K at The Blue/White Course.  Already a good start to my birthday.

Next up was the meeting of the drone operator that has me and George Brose in a tizzy with the ramifications of its use in our sport.  (Think how cool it would be to have drone video of the 1975 NCAA Finals at PSU or the Salazar/Rono duel a few years later.) An even better birthday.

Turns out that Bob Paddison, the drone operator, is from my hometown of York, PA and has just begun to dabble in aerial video with his son's xc race in September.  He relates the package he has costs in the vicinity of $1300 out of the box and runs on his iPhone.  Decent packages like it may run under $1000, which can do a very good job.  He may have some good shots of the start of my daughter's race.

This intrigues me immensely, and if I was State College based, I would have aerial footage of all the races at PSU.  Please send me lottery scratch tickets in my quest for the adequate funding for my adventure!  (Just kidding)  But what a birthday present that would be!

And here's where the metaphysical part begins.  Please stop reading this post if you are someone of no Faith or a person indifferent or antagonistic to me in any way.  This will just make you angry or worse. And I honestly don't want that.

I was one with little Faith for my first 36 years, until a very profound encounter which changed my life.  I'll not bore you here, but I'll gladly tell you about it when we next meet if you so desire.  Now, I have a good bit of Faith and try to live my life with that in mind.  I'm not very good at it yet, but I honestly try to become a little better every day with it. Some would say I have failed, but then again, I'm not nearly finished yet.

When I have praised others on these pages, it is often with this Faith in mind.  When Coach Groves guides me to those he feels are "good" people, I tend to listen.  When the person at the top of his list happens to be someone I idolized as a high school kid, I really tend to listen more.

When Coach fell and was injured significantly, while also being quite ill, there were 2 people who stepped up and provided him the help he needed.  They're still at it, in many more ways than most of you realize.  Without them, Coach would be in a world of hurt.  I can't emphasize how much they have done.

When my convictions are questioned on this praise of others, I certainly listen, analyze, and form an opinion on the matter according to the scientific background PSU taught me, flavored with the Spirit that new-found Faith has provided. And I still feel the same way.

When I went to my favorite fast-food establishment in the world (yeah, Roy Rogers in Thurmont MD!) after the XC meet today, who was standing next to me in line but Greg Fredericks.  It hit me like a revelation, and I take it as firm confirmation that I was correct all along.  Greg happened to be returning from Arlington National Cemetery where a friend in his church was laid to rest with full military honors.  He said it was really impressive.  I could have taken his pic just to confirm all of this with everyone, but I figure you all need to have Faith that this was something beyond ordinary.

I doubt that I'll ever catch up to Greg on his journey of Faith, I'm so far behind, just like on the track.  But I have seen his footprints and I will continue to follow them.  I could do a lot worse...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Let Our New "Director of Drones" School You Some More On The State Of The Art In Cross Country Videos

While I aspire to real reportage on events and things of import in our sport, George Brose actually does it.  He followed up on my off-the-cuff linkage to the drone footage of a XC race where I will be tomorrow for the Hood College Invitational.  He found an actual aerial drone cameraman who did a quite professional job of it.

Check out the post on his blog, Once Upon a Time In The Vest.

I'll try to find a drone operator tomorrow at the meet and report back.

Alumni Singlets and T-Shirts Are In Process!

I get way too much credit for bringing the Alumni Singlets, (and now the T-Shirts), to PSU Track and Field Alumni (Golfers).  Mark Hawkins, Le faucon d'orange (The Orange Hawk), does all the buying and arranging screening for them.  

Those who are among the largest order yet may be contacted by him to make sure of details etc.  Don't be alarmed.  The cost will be about $45 dollars, not counting possible shipping costs when he has the final product.  You will be contacted about the fees beforehand, as Mark has been stuck with several after people change their mind.  I have promised Mark to reimburse him for any such product, which we can try to entice someone else with.

As always, patience is a virtue. No matter when we do a sale and no matter how fast we fulfill it, there is always the desire to have them quicker.  And we all have day jobs.

Those who haven't ordered theirs yet, we'll do it again probably before next year's reunion and golf tourney.  Even for those of us waaaaaay past their athletic careers, the t-shirt is a very distinctive piece of apparel that generates tons of great comments when it is seen at races and other events.  Order one next time to help spread the word and make PSU Track/XC the go-to program in the nation.

Beth and Steve Shisler display their Alumni Singlets!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Streaking In College Should Be a Basic Human Right

 “I didn’t drink. I was never a big party girl, but I streaked. I don’t know why. … I just was in a naked frame of mind. I don’t think I was the only streaker, but I might have been the leader of the streakers. And we just all streaked, all summer.”

There have actually been students kicked out of school and even arrested and jailed for running around without clothes on.  Although I have never actually done it myself, I know so many of you that did!  This was often the first glimpse of a naked opposite sex person (or same sex NTTAWWT!) by many a College Freshman.

So it isn't a surprise that even TV/Movie Stars have joined in.  I'm just sorry there isn't pics or video! Except for her appearance on Conan O'Brien.  It seemed to me O'Brien rings some sort of bell when it comes to Streaking...  See link for that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Big Ten Athlete of the Week

Via GoPSUSports

"ROSEMOUNT, Ill. - Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio) has been named the Big Ten Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Week, as announced by the conference office Tuesday (Oct.14).

Last Saturday, Kidder tallied a third-place finish with his time of 26 minutes, 46 seconds to lead the Nittany Lion men to a team title at the Penn State National. Kidder's time of 26:46 is a season-best for him at the 5.2-mile Blue-White Golf Course......."

 Pre-Nationals  and the chance to garner some at-large points in 3 days.

Drones Invade Cross Country!

The Penn State team will be traveling to the biggest cross country race so far this year at the Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute, Indiana on Saturday.  Finally, we will be able to see what the team can do as a whole.  Good luck!

I'll be traveling to the Catoctin area of Maryland for the Hood College Invitational at Utica Park, just off Rt. 15 near Thurmont MD (and Camp David!)

In browsing the vast internet, I came across this great video of a race at Utica Park earlier this season which provides an aerial view of the course FILMED BY A DRONE!

I suppose we're going to need a Director of Drones soon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Brother Went To Ireland For The Penn State Game And All I Got Was This Photo*

My father and brother went to Ireland for the initial Nittany Lion football game.  This was their annual away game and one of the few PSU has won in their long streak of such games.  Previously, all were bus trips, some of which were very long trips indeed.  At least with this one, they could fly.

After the late night/early morning flight, they arrived in Dublin at 10:00AM and were immediately taken to the Guinness brewery.  Priorities, priorities...  Despite both being teetotalers, they each had a few sips, remarking that the product was "nasty".

*  I was Home Sick yesterday and had difficulty coming up with a suitable post today.  This will have to do for now. Despite being present at the epicenter of SARS in Guangzhou China prior to the government's acknowledgement of the disease, I'm pretty sure it's just a bad cold.  And its not Ebola either, despite some people's wishes out there!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Three First Meetings of Coach Groves

I have told this story once before, but here it is again...

First:  Me
When I finally decided that I wasn't going to the Division III route following several college visits after my State 2-Mile victory (Kutztown, Millersville among them) I was tasked with trying to walk on at PSU.  Every one in my family went there and I was quite familiar with everything about the school, ...except maybe Coach Groves. My only advice in this regard was "be careful" from a high school coach who had met him.

 When a friend was making a trip to State College, I hitched a ride (I didn't even have a license at the time!) and found my way to his office in Rec Hall.  He greeted me in his usual style (still til this day) and at least knew who I was.  When I finally asked if I could walk on, he asked "How much are you running right now?"  When I confidently answered "70 to 80 miles/week" (I can back that up BTW), he answered back  "that may not be enough".  He insinuated that I could join the team, but had a lot of work ahead of me.  I did do quite a bit of running from that day in June 1977 until I showed up at his office again in August.  It scared me straight and I credit that with becoming the 7th man for my first 2 meets as a Freshman (Bob Snyder was hurt!).  All in all, not a bad first meeting of Coach!
Second:  Gunny

I had the opportunity to speak with Roger "Gunny" Roll during the Womens race this past weekend.  I figured it was about time I thanked him for his service to the Nation AND his service to Coach Groves over the years. 
I also had the opportunity to ask him how they first met. Gunny was coaching the Quantico Marine team and ran into Coach at a meet in the mid-70's. Coach had once started and coached an Army team before heading to William and Mary and PSU.  Gunny's parting words following that first meeting were prophetic and were something to the effect of "I think we'll be seeing each other again."
And a short time later he was given his orders to travel to Happy Valley to head the PSU ROTC program.  The friendship between Coach and him has only gotten stronger every day since.  Any of us who ran with Gunny back in the day knows what a tough and honorable man he is.
Third:  Greg Fredericks

Greg was actually recruited by Coach John Lucas when Coach Groves took over the program in 1968.  I don't think Greg had ever met him and probably knew less about him than I did when we first met.  Coach actually has said he would not have recruited Greg.  Because he was way too slow!
 Greg arrived in University Park with a single suitcase on a Saturday evening and plopped his things down in the middle of his dorm room and waited for his roommate to arrive.  Greg is the kind of man who would wait to let his roommate pick his bed first!  There aren't many of them left in the word, to say the least.  I told him that today, the first into the dorm room probably takes both beds and tells the tardy roommate that he must sleep on the floor.  But I digress...
Seeing as it was late on Saturday, the two of them had their first dorm meal and called it a night.  They awoke early Sunday and attended church together, and used the rest of the day to look around campus and try not to get scared, I suppose.
Early Monday morning, both of them made their way to Rec Hall to check in and meet Coach for the first time.  In typical Coach Groves fashion, he bawled them out for not checking in on Saturday night or Sunday morning.   Greg isn't quite sure, but relates that 4-letter words were probably used.
Any other first meeting stories out there?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Friend In Need, Is a Friend Indeed: or My Day in Happy Valley

It was a whirlwind of 24 hours from start to finish, and I was admittedly at less than my best.  And my best isn't usually that good!  But I'll attempt to bring you the highlights of my travels through the Alumni World of PSU Cross Country.

First up, we must discuss the herculean efforts that are being made by members of our group in helping Coach Groves rehabilitate from his pneumonia and broken ribs.  I can't fathom better friends than Roger "Gunny" Roll*  and Greg Fredericks, who have spent endless hours with Coach and helped him with all his daily tasks AND MORE.  Each an every one of us owe them a thank you for what they continue to do.  These efforts show the very best of Track Alumni Golfers and humanity itself.  I can't say enough in praise of them.

Roger "Gunny" Roll manned the finish line at the PSU National.

My family visited Coach for a 1/2 hour and we enjoyed a spirited talk about many topics.  I think he would appreciate a visit from all his athletes.  They apparently boost his efforts at rehab.  Those who have broken a rib know the pain involved.  Throw pneumonia on top of that and you can understand the poor hand he was dealt.  Gunny and Greg are there constantly motivating him to get better, much as he did with each and every one of us.

Second, I got to talk with many alums before and during the Penn State National Cross Country Meet.  Despite the early rain, the day turned out to be quite nice.  I spoke with several friends while at the meet, always a highlight of the day.

I got to congratulate Coach Gondak on his new duties.

The Skerpons, Robbin and Don, stopped by to see my daughter run! They haven't changed in 30 years.

John McGraw took time away from Field Hockey to watch the meet!
Former foursome teammate Coach Fritz Spence.
The meet itself was anti-climatic, as both the men and women held out top runners for next week's Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute, Indiana.  With the reduced number of runners the Division I race was merged with the PSUAC Championships (The Penn State University Branch Campus Conference).  The Alumni team, defending champs, cobbled together a team at the last minute with Brian Fuller leading them with a 5th place finish.

The Alumni Team gets ready.

Brian Fuller places fifth overall for the Alumni team.
The PSUAC Championships were for the PSU Branch Campuses across the state.  Penn State Scranton won both team titles.  The newest team from Mont Alto managed 2 first team All-Conference runners and one second team All-Conference runner.  Martha Baskwill placed 7th in the 6K earning a trip to the USCAA Nationals in Syracuse in November.  Joining her for the trip will be the mens 4th place finisher in the 5.2 mile run, Joe Fletcher.  In addition, boxer and MMA fighter James McKeithen placed 13th.  James had no prior competitive running experience prior to last year.  The 27 year old does have a history of 2 tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, though.  One tough runner who has improved with every run of the year.

Joe Fletcher, PSU Mont Alto, 4th.

James McKeithen, right.  don't pick a fight with this runner!

Martha Baskwill, aka Daughter the Elder, conquers the White Course hill to finish 7th.
*People have pointed out that the Label for Gunny has 3 "l's" at the end, which was an error in the initial typing.  I have decided to not go back and change each and every example of it.  The third "l" now stands for "Loyal".  Thanks Gunny, for your service to Coach and to the Nation.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Penn State National Cross Country Meet Is Here!

 Here's a great Collegian article* from 1984 about Penn State's Cross Country course praising Coach Groves' course-making abilities (pointed out to me by our Director of Fun).  I'll be reporting on the happenings at the 2014 Penn State National Meet and the Branch Campus (PSUAC) Championships.  I also hope to see other Alums, including the Alumni Team defending their championship from last year.  Be sure to look for me and say "hi"!

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 1984 12:00 am
Penn State's course: a cross country tradition The list of All-American runners who have raced on the Penn State cross country course is impressive.
Runners like Horace Ashenfelter, Marty Liquori, Frank Shorter, Eamon O'Reilly and Alberto Salazar have all competed on the 5-mile and 10,000-meter tracks on the Blue Golf Course.
This year, Penn State cross country fans will again have a chance to see the best collegiate runners in the country when the Lions host the 46th Annual National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Cross Country Championships on Nov. 19.
The meet, known simply as "the nationals," is being run on Penn State's 10,000-meter course for the fifth time. The last time they were held here was 1975, when many of the NCAA rules that govern cross country were initiated by Penn State Head Coach Harry Groves.
For instance, Groves was the first to use an alley of two lines for the runners. Before 1975, runners would sometimes lose their way on courses that were marked only with a single line.
"Up until 1975, things were very haphazard," Groves said. "People were disqualified for running off courses and sometimes people were pushed into marking stakes that were too low."
Groves even went as far as to measure enough room for each of the seven runners on each team at the starting line. Before, there was only enough room for five runners on each team to stand on the starting line.
Other innovations from 1975 are the specifications for the width of the alleys in the finishing chute and an elaborate timing system at the finish line which includes a 16-millimeter camera, two video-cassete recorders, an Accutrack machine, a digital timer and a chromonex timer.
"In 1975, the nationals 10,000-meter course was heralded by the athletes as the best course that anybody had ever seen," Groves said.
"It's a real runner's course," he added, "because when I laid it out, I kept going along and saying to myself, 'What is the best way to go here if I'm a runner?' "
What Groves came up with was a 10,000-meter course that has a little bit of everything, including a route that winds through golf course rough, fairways, woods, fields and some hills that can be very deceiving.
Craig Virgin, the winner of the 1975 nationals at Penn State and holder of the second best time on the 10,000-meter course, had nothing but praise for the course when contacted recently at his Illinois business, Frontrunner Inc.
"There are plenty of good hills there and lots of good grass to run on," he said. "I felt that it was a very challenging course and when you ran it, you knew that you had gotten on a wild horse."
In recalling his championship performance of that year, Virgin said it was an "eyeball-to-eyeball, elbow-to-elbow" type of race when Nick Rose, from England and running for Western Kentucky, started to pull away from the pack at the two-mile mark, but Virgin stuck with him.
"It was one of the most physically demanding races I've ever been in," Virgin said.
Rose and Virgin, who was undefeated at that time, collided several times as both runners tried to outdistance each other. In the end, though, it was a long hill near the end of the course that did in Rose, who ironically had complained to Groves before the race that the course was not hilly enough.
In one of the great races that was run on the course, that same hill was the downfall of a future Boston Marathon competitor, Greg Meyer. In a race in 1976, Penn State All-Americans George Malley and Paul Stemmer decided, much to the dismay of Groves, that the only way to beat Meyer was to use the long hill at the end of the course. Malley and Stemmer sprinted up the hill and when they reached the top, they took off on a 100-yard dash and Meyer never caught up.
Another great runner, Marty Liquori, shaped the future of the Penn State course in his own unique way. When he raced here, Groves said, he had a tendency to pull the branches of the trees lining the course into the faces of the runners behind him. Since then, Groves has tried to steer the course away from any trees.
Groves does not expect any drastic changes this year for the 184 men and 136 women who will compete in the nationals at Penn State. He said most of the runners should be very pleased with the layout.
"Most people, after they run the course, say that it's tougher than they thought it was going to be but nobody moans because they think it's a very fair course," Groves said.
Virgin, who competed in the 1984 Olympics and is shooting for the 1988 games in Seoul, South Korea, said it is a good course as far as golf course routes go.
"I would reccommend the course to any cross country runner for a race because sometimes you find golf course routes that really are more like a track race or a road race," he said, "but that course is set up so that it makes you feel like you were on a real cross country course."

* The story is no longer edited. I'm still a jerk, but happy to have the additional info and permission to not have to edit such things in the future. Rules still apply, even to me. Although from reliable sources, Coach does enjoy the blog. The hill surge story is priceless. Except maybe to Meyer. Thanks for the story.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Indoor Schedule Released

The schedule for the indoor track season is up on GoPSUSports.com so start planning your winter trips to Happy Valley.
2014-15 SCHEDULE

Date Opponent / Event Location Time / Result

Indoor Season
Sat., Dec. 13 Blue vs. White (intrasquad) University Park, Pa. All Day
Sat., Jan. 10 Penn State Indoor Relays University Park, Pa. All Day
Sat., Jan. 17 Nittany Lion Challenge University Park, Pa. All Day
Fri., Jan. 30 PSU National (Day 1) University Park, Pa. All Day
Sat., Jan. 31 PSU National (Day 2) University Park, Pa. All Day
Fri., Feb. 6 Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup (Day 1) University Park, Pa. All Day
Sat., Feb. 7 Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup (Day 2) University Park, Pa. All Day
Fri., Feb. 13 Husky Classic (Day 1) Seattle, Wash. All Day
  SPIRE Invitational (Day 1) Geneva, Ohio All Day
  Tyson Invitational (Day 1) Fayetteville, Ark. All Day
Sat., Feb. 14 Husky Classic (Day 2) Seattle, Wash. All Day
  SPIRE Invitational (Day 2) Geneva, Ohio All Day
  Tyson Invitational (Day 2) Fayetteville, Ark. All Day
Sat., Feb. 21 Penn State Tune-Up University Park, Pa. All Day
Fri., Feb. 27 Big Ten Championships (Day 1) Geneva, Ohio All Day
Sat., Feb. 28 Big Ten Championships (Day 2) Geneva, Ohio All Day
Fri., Mar. 13 NCAA Championships (Day 1) Geneva, Ohio All Day
Sat., Mar. 14 NCAA Championships (Day 2) Geneva, Ohio All Day

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

As You Read This Post On Your Cell Phone, Thank a Physicist

The Nobel Prize in Physics went to some brainiacs who just happened to invent the blue light emitting diode in the early 1990's.  This revolution paved the way for the explosion of energy efficient lighting that has engulfed us all.  Not those stupid squiggly bulbs that don't work and require Ebola precautions to clean up.  I mean the light that is in the super bright screen of your phone. Yeah, the one you stare at 16 hours a day.

Is there nothing a Physicist can't do? 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What Was Your Goofiest Race Prize?

The Fall is here, bringing with it the most concentrated period of road races across the nation.  In looking back, I have memories of a few races where the prizes were different.  One of my better races was a 10-Mile Turkey Trot where I actually won a turkey.  I also was ninth at an Arts Festival 10-Miler, but with all the age group prizes going before me I got to select last off the table of donated gifts and got a paint-by-number painting.

 What was your most eccentric or memorable race prize?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Paul Short Open Race

Owen Dawson showed up in the results of the Paul Short Invitational Open race, coming in 4th place with 24:48 for the 8k course (Results). This bodes well for this weekends Penn State National which will mark the return of the Penn State Alumni team. Owen should be considered a favorite for the win after this performance as the team looks to defend their win at this meet last year.

On the collegiate side from the weekend. The Penn State men and women were 11th and 5th respectively at the Notre Dame Invitational. Solid results which placed both right around where they are in the national rankings but with room for improvement. Another chance to earn at-large points will be in two weeks at the Pre-National meet in Terre Haute, Ind.

Results from Notre Dame.

"Moldy" Monday

Here's a pic I came across on the world-wide computer-thingie.  With the chic and already overused "Throwback Thursday" meme on Facebook and Twitter, I figured I would do a "Moldy Monday". Can you name all of the Nittany Lions and their home states on this pic? And where was the meet? (Hint: I heard Coach Groves got a speeding ticket coming home from this meet in the van just as they were arriving home.)

Addendum:  It is pointed out that that is Ted Lyon himself behind Dwight Stephens in the pic.  Three TC Williams runners in a row for the Nittany Lions. A Platinum Membership is awarded to Ted for the slight!  We await his future post.

AddendumII: Upon further review, Ted relates it might not be him.  But his Platinum membership and all its options will remain, by the unanimous consent of the Idiot Officers.  Congratulation Ted! 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Tyler McCandless Fifth at US Marathon Championships

Tyler McCandless placed 5th today at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in a PR 2:15:26.

2:15:26, 5th place at USA marathon champs. New PR by 1:20 after a slow first ten miles proud of the effort and put myself in it. Thanks to all my friends and family for the love and support!! #WeAre #PennState

This is a photo from last year.  Tyler, of course, wore his PSU headband this year.  As he does in all his races now!

Good to see my usual marathon advice of "Start slow, then taper off" was only 1/2 taken by Tyler!

Addendum:  Here's this yeart's start:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Our Mount Rushmore Has Five Faces

We got a great response to my initial query, "Who belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Penn State Track and Field?"  

I kept the criteria vague when asking the question on purpose.  I figured each of us would have a unique set of criteria, and I was right.  The real monument had a rather vague beginning also, until settling on historical figures representing the four periods of America's first 130 years.  The Founding (George Washington), Growth (Thomas Jefferson) Preservation (Abraham Lincoln), and Development (Teddy Roosevelt) were finally agreed upon.

Some wanted athletes only.  Some wanted to include only what was accomplished while in school.  By taking nominations from anyone, we left that gate wide open, so if others agreed with you, you had a fair chance of attaining your desired outcome.  If yours was a lone voice in the wilderness, like mine often is, you were out of luck.

We got quite a few nominations, with several garnering questions to me such as "who is that?" when even the internet didn't come through for them.

In the end, I'm OK with the results.  The five on the face of the Mount Rushmore of Penn State Track and Field are:

  1. Horace Ashenfelter - Olympic Gold Medalist and World Record Holder*
  2. Coach Harry R. Groves - 38 year  PSU Coach and Olympic Coach*
  3. Greg Fredericks - American Record Holder and Olympian*
  4. Barney Ewell - Olympic Gold Medalist*
  5. Mike Shine - Olympic Silver Medalist*
Others garnering votes in descending order are:  Curt Stone, Dr. John Lucas, Kathy (Mills) Parker, Nate Cartmell, Larry Shields, Mike Sands, Charles "Chick" Werner,  Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan, Bridget Franek and Shana Cox.

I will be commissioning a sculpture at some point and hope to place it halfway up the Switchbacks in Bear Meadows.** 

* Arbitrary selection of accomplishments which are definitely not all-inclusive!

** Not really.  But I may commission a drawing of such a monument at some point from my cousin in addition to some new logos and gifs.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Penn State Tattoos

I'm stealing this idea from Onward State.

Any of our loyal readers have a cool Penn State themed tattoo, or any cool tattoo for that matter. Send a pic to Dave or I and we will showcase it on the blog.

Can you out do this guy?

Last Days of Alumni Singlet and T-Shirt Sale

The digital doors will close on Sunday for the latest (and largest!) Alumni Singlet sale.  Now is the time to submit your order.  Don't forget the T-Shirt version which is a great way to spread the word while just hanging out. (Although they do make a nice workout shirt and could even be worn in a race by those frisky enough after all these years!)

Remember the specifics of our procedure.  The machinery of our group isn't quite like eBay or Amazon.  But our satisfaction rate is very, very high.  I'm ordering my 2nd T-Shirt right now to go with my other one and my as yet unworn Singlet.

And here's a nice pic from last year's Alumni "Run" during the Reunion and Golf Tourney in May...

That's Coach Groves manning the T-Shirts on the left and I think I see Clark Haley (no. 102) and Bill Malchano (no. 12).

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Happy Birthday Co-Blogger!

I've been waiting for an opportunity to use this gif and I figure that Matt Groves' 27th birthday might as well be it.  Can that really be true?  Twenty-seven?  Where has all the time gone?

Seriously though, I appreciate all that Matt has done to help add to this site.  And I look forward to much more.  Make sure you all wish him a nice day.  If he can make it to the Penn State National next week I'll bring cake.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hump Day Physics Update

Future Penn State Track Alumni Golfer and Official Physicist Ron Moore alerted me to the Birthday of Enrico Fermi  (born in 1901).  Happy Birthday!  He's the namesake of Fermilab, Ron's beloved former workplace made sorta kinda obsolete with the completion of the Large Hadron Collider in France/Switzerland. May the isotopes be pure and as fast as the speed of light. Or something.  Go to the link for a little "lernin".

Enrico Fermi. I am not worthy...

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