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Sign up for the various activities of the 16th Annual Penn State Track and Field (and XC) Alumni activities now!

1. Whole package $175
2. Recent graduate rate (2011-2016) $125
3. Friday night reception $35
4. Saturday Awards Dinner $55
5. Those under 18 $10 for (Friday and Saturday)
6. Golf only $100 ($150 for golf and dinner Saturday)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Let's Catch Up On Some Things Prior To The Indoor Season

The Penn State Team puts a lot of emphasis on the indoor season because we have one of the best facilities around.  And there are plenty of opportunities to catch some action this year in the relative warmth of the Horace Ashenfelter III Complex. (Especially for those of us who remember the Ice Palace, which is the Football team's Lasch indoor facility now.  Except they have added heat!)

  1. Penn State Relays    January 10, 2015.  I'll miss this one while trapped like a rat in Disney!
  2. Nittany Lion Challenge    January 17, 2015 
  3. Penn State National Open     January 30-31   I hope to make this one, as I look forward to a sub-4 mile every year.  A good event to see plenty of Alumni Golfers!
  4. Sykes-Sabock Challenge Cup    February 6-7   I haven't made this event in the past, but this year I'll have to somehow get there for the Dinner/Social Celebration with Coach Groves, Coach Jordan and other coaches after the event on Saturday!  We should be hearing more about this soon.  I have lobbied for a Kung Po feast, but I don't think anyone heard me!
  5. Penn State Tune-Up    February 21   Not sure about this one, but I'll bring my car in case that's what they mean.
And I've had some submissions on some topics I have brought up before on the only blog detailing track and field, golf, physics and.....

  • Running does not cause arthritis.  Repeat, running does not cause arthritis.  Everyone telling you this doesn't run and feels guilty about it.  And the science behind it is way better than current climate science.    May Even Help Prevent It!
  • Stretching doesn't do you any good.  Repeat, stretching doesn't do you any good.  I knew this instinctively early on, but what are you going to do.  (Warming muscles up IS very important before heavy exercise. But they are very different things.)   It's A Trap!
  • I was correct to be panicked (even though I blacked out and don't remember my Flight Reaction to running directly into a bear). I didn't have a camera available in 1980 when it happened during a run, but the Rutgers student that was killed by a black bear recently did.  His last picture makes me cringe. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

I Suppose I'm The Biggest Turkey

It seems everyone ran in a Turkey Trot yesterday.  The entire clan here at Blog Central braved the cold and slippery conditions and joined 4,300 others in the annual York Turkey Trot.  I stayed home and took the day off from running.

But plenty of others in our group jumped into turkey trots of their own:

Kara (Milhouse) Foster and Ryan Foster (17th, 49:06) jumped into the Run for the Diamonds in Berwick, PA.  Kara won and set the course record in winning another diamond (50:33).  Group friend Nicholas Hilton won the whole darn thing in 44:39.

Twinkle, twinkle...

Ryan and Kara with author of Run For the Diamonds Mark Will-Weber

And Tyler McCandless took some time off from decorating his new place to go after his coach's record again in Colorado.  He just missed in besting 10,000 other runners in  19:39 for the 4 miles of the Denver Turkey Trot.



And it isn't a Camp Hill Turkey Trot post without some Fullers!







Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow...

As I await the first snowfall of the year at Blog Central, I have to admit having the day off gives me a great sense of relief.  Our thoughts go out to brethren like Bob Hudson who braved upwards of 7 feet of the white death last week.  (Anyone else?)


So I will use this opportunity to just bring some updates to previous posts:

First up,  Drones!  Since we discussed them last there have been updates to the machines and the cameras and the gimbals that keep the images stable.  Wow.  There have also been rumors of coming laws just about everywhere that will make them problematic for many.

Since my piggy bank is not yet full (far from it!), I have not yet made the leap to purchase one yet, but I have become aware of a possible alternative for simply the price of a good camera and a slice of bread!



And Here's a race we all can sink our teeth into.  It's only 4 miles long, but it's what is in the middle that can be the challenge.  Has anyone done this?  I know in my youth I would have been very good at this particular division of the running scene.  Like President Clinton, many of my runs had McDonalds at the end (or even in the middle!).


Addendum:  Bob Hudson has reported in to Blog Central with his harrowing tale of near Donner Party dimensions...    Not really.  He reports he had about 7 inches of snow, not 7 feet like those nearby.  And it all melted by today.  He knows well the vagaries of Lake-Effect Snow!  Glad you are OK.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Nearly an Alumni Singlet

It really wasn't Matt Fischer's day at the 2014 NCAA XC Championships on Saturday in Terre Haute.  I have no doubt that there was something amiss, as he started every bit as well as planned.  And he looked resplendent in his "old school"  singlet, which is eerily reminiscent to our Alumni Singlets!  (I think Matt already owns an Alumni Singlet, but I may be wrong.)  Apparently, the emblem where the graduation year is is a Big Ten emblem on this shirt.

Matt Fischer.  Photo by Michael Scott.
And speaking of Alumni Singlets:  They are at the printers this week, after a flurry of last minute orders came to our attention.  You all will soon be wearing yours with pride!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Some Real Photos For Once! From The Wings Of A Gator (or something)

Mark Hawkins made it to the NCAA Regional Meet at PSU last week and brings us many, many photos to peruse on his Facebook site.  I've selected a few to highlight on the blog with it all.

Here's the aforementioned Gator.  Notice all the smiling blokes (are Aussies blokes too?).  They are smiling because they will alll be inside the Gator's warm cocoon while Mark sits in the back working his shutter!


Here's a smattering of Nittany Lions captured by the CMOS (or is it CCD?) of Mark's behemoth.

Ean Disilvio.

Matt Fischer.

Wade Endress.

Austin Pondel and Tony Russel.

Glen Burkhardt.
All photos by Mark Hawkins.

Friday, November 21, 2014

How Did This Slip Through the Cracks?

Kara Foster used the Big Sur Half-Marathon last Sunday in Monterey Bay, CA to obtain an Olympic Trials marathon qualifying mark with her time of 1:14:29. The time was good for second place and a $500 cash prize in what I imagine was perfect conditions compared to the sub-freezing temps and high winds back home.

Full write up from RunningUSA.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

RIP Dr. Litrenta

He was a doctor in my hometown before moving on to bigger things in the medical field.  I ran against his son, Daniel back in the day.  At the time, photography was his hobby of choice.  But he had many of those.  Numismatics, travel, wine just to name a few.  But he always kept things in perspective.  Family, Friends, God and Country always came first. He was a friend and a mentor even if he never knew about the last part.

When he first became a patient of mine, I was thrilled.  Back in my early days, a thing called professional courtesy was common.  That's not true anymore.  In fact, it can get you into a lot of trouble today.  But then again I could never charge him for my services like I did for everyone else.  He decided on his own to rely on the barter system.  This usually entailed something involving his many hobbies.  I have been paid in Roman coins from Herod's era, comical coins and  bills about President Clinton and lately bottles of wine.  There's a merlot on my desk right now from several years ago called "Running With Scissors". He always thought of my assistants and brought 3 bottles.  The "best" was reserved for me and the other two were given out based on a numbers guessing game by everyone else.  I'm sure he way overpaid me every time for my services, but I enjoyed every single visit I ever had with him.  Without trying, I always learned something new, and the proper way to behave in this increasingly crazy world was drilled into this thick skull of mine.

Dr. David Litrenta passed away on Monday from cardiomyopathy.  That's literally a heart that's too big, for those who don't know.  My condolences to all his family and friends will be delivered at his viewing in just a few hours, after a little run on my treadmill.  Dr. Litrenta knows I'll never be late though.  He knows that being late bothers me more than it does the patients.  RIP

One of his last actions was accumulating some photos of me he took at a dual meet on May 3, 1977 between my high school (Dover) and York Catholic.  His family delivered them to me at my office on Tuesday.  This is me with Daniel Litrenta before the mile that day.  These are the only photos of me that I know of in my high school uniform not of faded newspaper vintage.  It's a priceless gift for me even though I didn't get to see him one more time in the office to earn them.

Dan Litrenta and I after the mile. (4:27 that day)

Dan and I warm up before the race.
Notice the pom-pom socks I always wore.  I always left the balls on the back so they wouldn't slip.  Many people made fun of me before races because of them.  I beat every one of them that year.  But then I ripped the balls off when I arrived at PSU.  There's no way I could have backed them up then! My socks started slipping right away.

Addendum:  Dan points out that he beat me in our first 2 years but I turned the tables on him the second 2.  He reports he ran 4:35 in the race for 2nd.  And he has aged much better than I...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Matt Fischer Receives Accolades

Senior Matt Fischer's punishing kick left the competitors behind at the Mid-Atlantic NCAA Regionals last Friday at the Blue/White Course.  That propelled him to the first place finish and the Mid-Atlantic Athlete of the Year Award.  (And let's not forget Dan Mazzocco's similar performance in 2003 this time!)


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Coach's New Home

I held off in widely disseminating the info until I was sure everyone was OK with it.  So here it is!

With the approaching holidays, Gunny suggested we make sure the alums know that Coach's new permanent home is at Juniper At Brookline; here is the contact information:

Contact info:
Coach Harry Groves
1940 Cliffside Dr
Room 217 Pinecastle
State College, PA. 16801

Cell phone: 814 777-3000


Coach is doing well and has adapted to his safe new surrounding.  Thank you to all who stopped to see him after the cross country meet.

Hoping everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving.

greg

A Possible Convert?

Despite running for Oklahoma back in the day, and now firmly ensconced in the Great White North where hockey and curling rule, our Drone Czar, er Fuhrer, may now trade in his honorary member status for the real thing.  Like I have always said, everyone is welcome in our Group.  Don't forget to check out his excellent track and field blog at http://www.onceuponatimeinthevest.blogspot.com/

Sunday I ran an 8.7 KM club race here on Vancouver Island with my daughter. The course was along the Tsolum River, and at points reeked of rotten salmon carcasses which is normal up here this time of year.   On the way home we stopped at our favorite used clothing store Value Village and this Penn State jacket was on the rack.   
Being an 'honorary' member of the PSU track and alumni golf sqaud', I at least had to model it for you.  Note the slogan on the wall.
"Complete outfits for under $20".   Nothing too good for us Nittany Lions.  If one of you left this jacket on a park bench up here I'll have it boxed and shipped back.

George Brose
Obersturmbahndronnenfuhrer
George Brose modeling his Thrift Shop find.
 My guess is that more than a 100 of us once had a jacket just like it.  And we paid more than $20 for it too.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Report From The NCAA Mid-Atlantic Prelims In Happy Valley

Thanks again to my support team for bringing actual news to the site for me.  I was pleased to note so many who missed me.  Wish I could have been there.  -skwilli

Fred Singleton '74 and Gary Gittings '74 visit with Coach Groves after the meet.


Word is already out about the exploits of the Women’s and Men’s XC squads from last Friday at the Mid-Atlantic NCAA Regional meet, so no trivia, stats or splits from me.  Congratulations to Matt Fischer and Jillian Hunsberger for qualifying individually for the big dance next week in Terre Haute.  I’ll need some help with fact checking, but I believe that Matt is the first Nittany Lion to win the Regional meet in school history.  I know Alan Scharsu was second twice to Solomon Chebor back in the day, but perhaps another Lion in the last 36 years snuck past my watchful, statistical eye and grabbed the top step?  If he isn’t the first to get first, there aren’t a lot of names on the list of those who have.  Impressive performance – more on that in the Gator section. I know, I lied about the trivia/stats thing.  Bite me doughboy.

As was the case in Hershey two weeks ago, State College was a veritable Hollywood red carpet extravaganza littered with celebrities.  Admittedly, the level of celebrity in Central PA was a tiny bit below the mega-wattage of those stars of stage and screen, but, as he’s gotten older, Tim Backenstose’s ass makes Kim Kardashian’s look like a Gluteus Minimus (there are rumors that Tim is in the process of tweeting his own backside photo and one of him astride a horse, shirtless – the Vlad of Coatesville).  I’m proud he’s our ass, not someone else’s!!!  Oh, it also differed from Hollywood in that it was frigging cold and windy, shocking for State College in November, and many were thankful they weren’t wearing Dolfin shorts which led to that painful malady popsicle… (rhymes with sock).

From the recent ranks of alums was Owen Dawson (who had 5 hours of car riding to hear about Tim’s Penn Relays win), who is under the tutelage of a former Volunteer of Tennessee and may have his sights on longer distances.  When someone mentioned he should consider the steeple, his facial expression gave the impression that wasn’t in his plans (or he had really bad gas).  Also in the ranks of greenhorn alums was Sam Masters, PhD candidate and driver supreme (again, more on that later – be patient or you’ll be asked to leave), Ryan Foster (ok, he has to be at all of these things – sad for the rest of us wretched refuse who have no such excuse), Emily Gianotti (2014 McCoy Memorial Award winner [google it, I don’t have all day for this kind of stuff] and 4 time District 9 3200 champ from Coudersport), and Greg Fredericks.  I don’t care that he graduated in 1972, he still looks like he could lace up his spikes and grind me into the dust in a 10x400 workout.

A flock of mid/late 80s and early 90s grads also gather from far and wide to see the race and attend the game against the Temple Owls.  I think Doug Walter, who came from Boulder, may have travelled the longest distance.  Again, someone else can fact check, I’m taking a Baskwillian stance and am not letting the facts get in the way of a good story.  In addition to Doug (one of the 1500 tribe, my personal favorite), also spotted were Brian Laird, Steve Brown (both from the great City of Pittsburgh and both XC All-America), Steve Balkey (another Steel City denizen back in the day and another 1500 tribesman and record holder), Bob Radzwich (who hosted a well-attended Friday night gathering at his home, which was followed by a late night prayer service that lasted until 2:45am [that’s the story he told his wife, I’m staying out of it]), Aidan O’Reilly (brother of the Villanova guy we ran into at Hershey 2 weeks ago), Steve and Beth Shisler (Penn Relays Wall of fame guy and his bride who produced a fine Nittany Lion sprinter of their own), Nick of Tesla and John McGraw (apparently not the former NY baseball Giants manager from the 1930s).  We spotted another fine PSU grad from my favorite city in Pennsylvania, the man, the myth, the legend, the pride of Shadyside Academy, Artie Gilkes.  And, making a repeat appearance at a chilly XC meet, were two of Camp Hill’s finest, Mark Haywood and Jeff Sanden.  Apologies to the guys whose names I missed (Hawk, Steve and Nick can add the necessary errata and addendums).

So on to the Gator, which after an annoying build up will most certainly be a letdown.  After stepping out of the team’s heated tent (Yes. Heated tent. After being in there for 10 minutes I felt ashamed.  Don’t tell Coach.), I bumped into Sam Masters who was chatting with Ryan Foster about making sure he knew the 6K course well enough to keep the runners on the white line for the duration.  The next thing you know, Sam asks if I want to jump in the Gator.  It had been 5 minutes in the cold and wind since I was in the heated tent, so I immediately said yes.  Imagine my glee when I found out the enclosed Gator had heat – the 8 track sucked, but it had heat!  It was a pretty cool experience watching the race unfold from the front and equally cool to aim the Gator at fans who strayed too close to the line (to ensure they gave the runners enough room, not to take any pleasure in their stricken, about-to-be-run-over looks).  In the women’s race it was a 4 person slugfest until the last mile or so when Georgetown’s Katrina Coogan, daughter of two Olympians (again, google it), powered up the final hill to put a 100 meter gap on the others in a most impressive fashion.  Two other things to note about the Gator:  1) the seats aren’t padded and 2) the back bed also isn’t padded and has no heat (or 8 track), so Mark Hawkins, the creator of the Baldwin HS logo and powerhouse master’s runner, deserves a medal for riding in it for 30 minutes taking photos of the men’s race.  For the first 4 miles, it was a walk in the park (ok, stroll through the White and Blue courses at a leisurely 5 minute pace).  Then the front group threw in a 4:35 mile and the lead pack thinned to 7 or 8 guys.  On the same last mile stretch the women’s winner staked her claim, Matt Fischer eased from 5th to the lead and simply ran away from the pack.  Chasing him to no avail was a Penn sub-4 miler and a 13:31 Villanova 5K guy.  It was impressive to watch and got the Nittany Lion faithful appropriately riled up along the finishing straight.  Best quote from Matt to Mark Hawkins – “I thought that was you in the back of the Gator” (that’s how you know the first 4 miles was a stroll).

Finally (huge sigh of relief to the folks who have read this far.  Also, you need to get lives.  And therapy.  Both.), two groups of alums visited with a happy and healthy Coach Groves at his new place of residence.   We also ran into Roger “Gunny” Roll and Coach Bill Whitaker.  We all owe a huge debt of thanks to Gunny and Greg Fredericks who have been steadfast in their support and care of Coach.  Coach has been really pleased to see so many of his runners and friends, and to receive so many cards and calls.  He has really improved over the last month, and it was a delight to see him looking so well.  He also has fully retained his sense of humor – we can rest assured that the windows in his room are closed!!!

LTM

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Healthy Attendance By PSU Track Alumni Golfers

The road is still uphill for the Nittany Lion men to make the NCAA XC Finals via an at-large bid, but it was a great season none-the-less.  The team improved with every single race and the future is quite bright. Coach Gondak has to be very pleased.

I couldn't make it to the race, but was there in spirit.  In the mean time, plenty of our brethren were there in force to see the men finish third in the team competition, edging Princeton by 1 point!  A highlight was seeing Matt Fischer win the race overall. I think Matt already has an Alumni Singlet at the ready!

Tim Backenstose, Owen Dawson, Greg Fredericks, Coach Bill Whittaker, Coach Groves, Larry Mangan, Roger Roll and Mark Hawkins get ready for the meet. There are stories about the bear I need to hear!

Matt Fischer takes the win.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Hi In The Middle and Round On Both Ends"

Which is something teammate Tom Rapp once told me about his home state.



I can't imagine someone more qualified to have become a high school cross country coach than Tom.  Not just because he was a tremendous high school champion and All-American at Penn State.  More important to me was the character that the man obviously had from a very young age.  I think Tom would be quite pleased to know that I paid attention and still aspire to the ideal he set on a daily basis. And I still remember the sunrise Easter service we attended after a Ziggy "10-miler" at 5:00AM when we were Sophomores.

Tom coached the Division I Cross Country Team Champions (Mason High School)  this past week at the Ohio High School Championships.

Thanks to our Morale Officer (I left off the rest of his title just to tick him off!) for the alert.  Now the pressure is on for this weekend's reporting!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's Always Snowy In Syracuse

I spent a fair amount of time in Philadelphia.  Enough to know that it certainly isn't always sunny there.  But every time I have ever been to Syracuse, there has either been snow on the ground or it snowed while I was there.  I thought this past weekend was my chance to break the spell.  But alas, I was wrong.

The small college USCAA had its National Championships at a golf course outside of Syracuse on Friday.  All of the PSU branch campuses comprising the PSUAC belong to the Association that takes in all kinds of small colleges, trade schools and the like.  Quite an eclectic and cool group.  One of the powerhouses of the Association is the Dine College Warriors Dine College is a college of Native Americans in Arizona for the Navajo Tribe.  Their women won the team competition and the men came in second.  I also appreciate how they embrace their Warrior mascot without apology.  Good for them.  I found myself giving war whoops to their runners along with their large contingent of fans. And they were just as rabid in cheering for their last runner as they were the first.  Made my heart feel good.

Well, anyway, back to the weather...

As I got up at 5:00am in Philadelphia for the trip north with my Daughter the Younger to take pictures, the weather forecast was for 60% chance of rain.  but as we traveled north over the mountains, I could tell it was going to be worse than that.  Lo and behold, fog, rain, sleet, freezing rain greeted us as we arrived in Syracuse.  The small amount of snow came just as the mens race was about to start, generating a very cool greeting from all of the runners involved, led by the Dine College Warriors.  This was captured by Daughter the Younger while I fumbled with the camera I had, getting nothing.



Cross ountry is always better with mud and 1/2 inch spikes.

Daughter the Elder after a fall and blurred from the sleet.

The ice and snow started to accumulate!

Daughter the Elder before the fall!
Daughter the Elder - 47th place, 3rd from the PSUAC! With a 2 minute improvement in time from her PSU 6K performance.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I'm Back! But Kinda Sad I Might Not Have Been Missed

That was the longest blog hiatus since it was started in 2008.  Sorry about that.  Work items and a family medical emergency conspired against me even as items began to build up which are important and of interest.  I hope I can catch up sometime soon.  But I hope I was missed by at least a few of you?

Item 1:  The Mid-Atlantic NCAA Championships are this weekend AT PSU!  I can't make it, but I am looking for roaming corespondents to report on things like our Chief Laundry Officer did in this great post for the High School Championships.  Maybe Mark Haywood can give us some gibberish, grainy cell phone pics and anecdotes from the event?  Hint, hint.  Etc. Etc. Etc. Everyone is invited.

Item 2:  The Parkers attended an event at the All Sports Museum last weekend to celebrate the 50 years of Women's Sports at PSU.

I have told the story before of my very first run at PSU as I showed up for my Freshman Orientation week.  I checked in with Coach Groves right away, unlike Greg Fredericks, and he immediately told me to take a run with "these guys".  Luckily I was dressed for a run and just jumped in.  Believe it or not. I was by far the littlest and skinniest person there.  I was intimidated by the size of everyone there.  I think Campbell Lovett and Tim Backenstose were there, as well as Mark Parker.  None of these people would ever remember this, as I was so scared I never talked to anyone, and they didn't talk back.  We went for a "10-miler" to the Pine Barrens that took 1 1/2 hours at 6-minute pace.  This was merely an introduction to the PSU mileage measurement system I would come to know all so well.  But it was also my introduction to running "in the woods" which is one of my greatest memories of all my PSU years.  I would recommend running at PSU for anyone just because of the mountains and scenery of these routes.

But before Mark Parker became a running mate on my very first PSU run, I must say I saw his future wife even before that.  Early in the AM dark, I saw her streak across the road in front of us at the park across from Easterly Parkway on my way to the dorm with all my belongings in the Ford station wagon.  She was running very fast, but what was weird was the cast on her left foot she was running with.  Kathy Mills had just had surgery but didn't seem to miss a beat.  I have no idea how she did that, and would never recommend that to any of my patients.  As Coach Groves has said, "She is the toughest runner I ever saw."

Kathy (Mills) Parker with the Women's Team.

PSU Record Holders Kathy (MIlls) Parker (5000M) and Kara Foster (10000M).

The Women's Team meets Nike President Mark Parker and Kathy (Mills) Parker.

Two American Record holders, Kathy (Mills) Parker (5000M and WR!) and Greg Fredericks (10000M).

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bob Barker Loves PSU Cross Country

And there is video proof!

I never knew anything about this before encountering a mention of the 10 year anniversary of it.  An actual interaction between the 2004 Penn State Cross country team and the world's greatest game show host.  And everybody loves Bob Barker!  Well, maybe everybody except Adam Sandler... (mild content warning for the b-word for my family-oriented viewers)



Anyway, who knew that the PSU XC team actually traveled CROSS COUNTRY to have a running training camp?  I don't think we ever traveled further than Bear Meadows for ours.  But not only did they apparently travel across the fruited plain, but they then wound up at the studio for a filming of the Price is Right!  Everyone knows that the people that act the most outrageous are the ones chosen for inclusion in the gallery of price guessers.  I have not yet found out how outrageous our 2004 brethren were, but one did end up guessing prices (Joel Moceri).  And acquitted himself fairly well. 


 Here's what Joel Moceri has let me know so far:


We were out in Orange County, CA back in 2004 for a 10 day PSU XC training camp hosted by our teammate at the time Ryan McGarry. We went out with about 13 men from the team and ran every kind of terrain possible for some incredible workouts! Ryan's mom hooked us up with tickets to the Price is Right, and based on a short interview process, I was the lone PSU XC team member to be chosen for a spot up on stage! The video then speaks for itself!

          Anything else, just let me know!

          Joel

 

I would love to know more about this trip, so anyone can add some enlightening comments.  Things I would like to know:
  1. Was it sanctioned by Coach Groves in any way?
  2. What outrageous things were done by the team to get a contestant selected?
  3. Was the prize ever cashed in?  Who was your guest, Joel?  Did the mower work?
  4. Who made the t-shirts?
  5. Was any training really, actually ever done at the "training camp"? hee hee hee
  6. Could Joel have taken Bob in a fight? Anyone can chime in.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Coach Groves Gets Back On His Feet

It's only a matter of time until my a$$ is kicked!

Coach Whittaker, last year's foursome captain of the oldest group to ever golf in the Coach Groves Golf Tourney, paid Coach Groves a visit and brings us good news.

Coach Groves has adjusted well to his new surroundings.  He is feeling much better.  He is stronger and eating better following his injuries and illnesses.  Let's hope you never find out how hard that is!   Although Bill reports he is not yet chasing nurses.  He relates that Coach was very pleased with the giant get well card from the team I reported on earlier.  And despite the image you may have of him, he relishes the attention we bestow on him at our annual reunion and golf tourney.  He also delights in visits from the universe of PSU track and field and cross country.  Consider a visit to Coach.  It will cheer you and him up, I'm sure.


Coach Bill Whittaker and Coach Groves in "Suburban" State College.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Moving Up!

The Penn State men moved up to #23 in the recent USTFCCA National Coaches Poll. The week 6 cross country ranking is the final one released before regionals next week and being number #23 certainly helps the Nittany Lions when it comes getting an at-large berth for the big dance. Of course, they can always qualify automatically by securing a top two finish next Friday.



In other running news Meb Keflezighi has been been nominated for Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year by Tim Layden. If only I had a vote because I can't think of anyone more deserving.

It's Deju Vu All Over Again: A Track Team Without a Track!

There are plenty of Gophers upset about the plans for their track out on the western fringes of Big Ten land.  They are apparently removing the track with no plans to replace it on campus, which has angered many.  Some feel this may even end the storied Minnesota Program. They don't even have plans as for where to practice in the mean time.

Having been through a similar situation, (and HERE)I can say most of their fears are unfounded.  But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be upset and do what they can to change the minds of those in charge.  The total disregard that administrators have for any sport but the revenue producers is appalling.  And Minnesota only has one sport that makes money, basketball.  As I've said before, getting rid of Track and Field is essentially getting rid of Athletics, as it is known in every other country in the world. And an Athletic Department without Athletics is an empty shell.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Visit To The PIAA XC Championships By Our Chief Laundry and Morale Officer

Generously written at my request by Larry Mangan, as I could not make an appearance this year.

A Day At The Races

So why would someone with no relatives competing attend the PA State XC meet?  It has nothing to do with the proximity of the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Racecourse to the Parkview XC course.

It had everything, however, to do with the number of celebrities in attendance at said PIAA meet (and to see if there would be any drones flying overhead – disappointingly, none).  Starting with Greg Green, Head Coach of perennial District 1 AA girls, 3 time PIAA state champion powerhouse (ok, he was my ride) St. Basil Academy (who had the good sense to hire as his Assistant Coach one Olivia Mangan [SBA ’10, PSU ’14), who was rumored to having placed a couple of bets on a few ponies, and ending with a walk by wave to Marcus O’Sullivan, Villanova head coach, it was a star studded day.

In between, we got the chance to see Mark Haywood, XC coach at Camp Hill HS, and Mark Sanden in the Camp Hill tent which bordered the starting field at Parkview.  Across the way was the Maroon tent of State College High, with Rebecca Donahue and Artie Gilkes in attendance and in command.  Coach Dave Felice was in the area (I spotted him running toward the hills between the mile and 2 mile marks at one point), as well.  State College HS alum Brian Mount, now Head XC Coach at Gettysburg HS, was also sighted in the company of Sue Baskwill (sister of the famous herder of cats and website idiot extraordinaire).  It was also nice to see two runners from Seton-LaSalle HS (WPIAL District 7), one of my other alma maters, competing after a long absence from the State meet.

In addition to the Villanova coaching presence, Gerry O’Reilly (who did have a child running for District 12 Bishop Shanahan), a former Wildcat runner who, along with the aforementioned O’Sullivan (back from his Men’s squads Big East win), was probably responsible for the denial of more than a few Penn Relays watches (I’m still not bitter 30+ years later, really am not.  Really.).  My former AW teammate, and Auburn alum, Chris Fox, now Head Coach at Syracuse was also wandering to and fro while the 6 races wore on throughout the day, looking for prospects to add to his healthy stable of prize harriers (Syracuse dominated the ACC Championship on Friday).  Of course, our alma mater was well represented by Assistant Coach Ryan Foster, who was minding the home front while Coach Gondak was traveling with the Women’s and Men’s XC squads to engage those hordes from the Midwest (and NJ and Maryland….).  The men finished 3rd (tied for all-time best B1G finish) and the women 7th.  Next up is the Regional meet on November 14th.  How many celebrity sightings will be had at that event?

Oh, probably 1,000 runners also competed on Saturday.  Got to see some pretty impressive performances by teams and individuals.  There are a million websites that display the gory details and splits so I’ll only comment on the AAA boys race, which was won by a Junior in a course record 15:24 – amazing time for that course (the bozo who designed it deserves to be dealt with thusly - who puts a really steep hill within 250 meters of the finish…someone who can’t run under 50 for 400, that’s who).

LTM

Addendum from Skwilli:  Bill Kvashay SCAHS and PSU Alum was there coaching the Boys AA winner also.  Sweet.  And thanks to Larry for the excellent post.  I have entered it as a Performance of the Year, along with the Mens B1G finish!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Best Ever B1G Finish For Men (Tied with 2000 finish)


"If you're better than the Big Ten, then you're a professional," ·

 "The competition is so awesome, you'll crap in your pants." 

"There are no gifts in the Big Ten. You have to earn every point and every place."

-Coach Harry R. Groves, on the competition in the Big Ten




The Penn State Men placed third in the Big Ten XC Championships in Iowa City, Iowa today.  The duo of Matt Fischer and Glen Burkhardt provided the important team lead with their 8th and 11th place finishes.  Wade Endress (19), Tony Russel (25) and Robby Creese (29) rounded out the scoring.  They also had the best spread of all teams with 27.5 seconds!

Ean Disilvio (49), Brannon Kidder (78), Bobby Hill (88), and Austin Pondel (93) also ran well.

Our congrats to Coach John Gondak and the entire team. (I include those who didn't make the trip as well. The importance of everyone involved is a big part of our Alumni efforts.  We really understand the commitment, dedication and hard work that all of this entails.) With 8 of the 9 runners able to compete next year, things are looking up for the Nittany Lions.

   Mens 8k

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nittany Lions From the PIAA List of Past Cross Country Champions

I have tried to put together a list of current and former Nittany Lions who have joined the Cross Country team after winning a PIAA State Championship.  I probably don't have a complete list.  If anyone knows of those I missed, please chime in! (The list has been amended to include those I missed and submitted via the comments. Thanks to the anonymous supporter and RMH!)



1963 Boys’ AAA  Steve Gentry 11  State College. 10:36  (Pennsylvania State University)

1964 Boys’ AAA Steve Gentry  12 State College 10:25.2 (Pennsylvania State University)

1968 Boys’ AAA Jim Allahand 12 Bensalem  12:40 (Pennsylvania State University)

1975 Girls’ AA Mary Rawe  11 Camp Hill    12:28 (Pennsylvania State University)
            1976 Girls’ AAA Kathy Byrnes 12 North Allegheny 13:06.6.(Pennsylvania State University)
1977 Boys’ AAA  Gary Black  12  State College 15:09.4 (Pennsylvania State University)

1978  Boys’ AA  Mike Cook  12 Troy  15:26.8 (Pennsylvania State University)

1980  Boys’ AA Mark Overheim 12  General McLane 10  15:50.7 (Lehigh University)

1982 Boys’ AAA  Eric Carter 11 Penn Hills   15:38.2  (Lehigh University)

1984 Boys’ AAA Steve Brown 12  North Hills   15:44.9 (Lehigh University)

1985 Boys’ AAA  Doug Walter  12  Chambersburg   15:38.14 (Lehigh University)

1986 Boys’ AAA Ron Moore 12 Hempfield Area  15:33.2 (Pennsylvania State University)

1989 Boys’ AAA  Bob Hamer  12  Council Rock 15:37.98 (Lehigh University)

1995 Boys’ AAA  Chris McGinness 12  Abington 15:48.15 (Pennsylvania State University)

2001 Boys’ AAA Daniel Mazzocco 12 Baldwin 16:03.0 (Hersheypark Stadium White Field)

2011 Boys’ AAA Conner Quinn 11  Hatboro-Horsham 16:03 (Parkview XC Course, Hershey)
            2012 Boys’ AAA Tony Russell 11  W. C. Henderson  15:45 (Parkview XC Course, Hershey)
2013 .Girls’ AAA Tessa Barrett 12  Abington Heights 17:30 (Parkview XC Course, Hershey)

2013 Girls’ AA Elizabeth Chikotas 12 Saucon Valley  18:43 (Parkview XC Course, Hershey)
            2013  Boys’ AAA  Tony Russell 12  W. C. Henderson 15:49 (Parkview XC Course, Hershey)
 
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