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...

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Distance Runners Get PSU Off To Good Start At Big Ten Championships

That's a headline I have not been able to use in the 7 or so years of the blog with it all.  I enjoyed writing it today.

The 3000M was a good start for both the Men and Women at the first day of the Big Ten meet at the Spire Institute in Ohio.  With wins in both the Shot Put and the Distance Medley, the Men are in second place entering the penultimate Saturday finish. The Women are tied for fourth.

W 3000 M:      3  Tori Gerlach             9:17.39
                        4  Elizabeth Chikotas   9:21.62

M 3000M:       1  Robby Creese           8:10.75
                        6  Matt Fischer             8:14.13

M Shot Put:     1  Darrell Hill               66'  6"

M Distance Medley: (Jordan Makins, Alex Shisler, Za'Von Watkins, Brannon Kidder) 1  9:40.62

Brannon Kidder, Photo by Jim McClelland.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Scientific "Consensus"

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself-and you are the easiest person to fool."
-Richard Feynman

"If I were wrong, one would be enough."
-Albert Einstein, about the 100 Nazi scientists questioning his theory.

We read an awful lot about scientific consensus as of late.  And there is always money somewhere in the equation.  Money has ruined many a good scientist.  And created many a bad one.

Now the food scientists have staggered out many "changes" to their recommendations lately, reversing decades of absolutes that have made all of our lives more difficult. Beware of the low-fat enthusiast trying to sell you a non-fat yogurt.

  1. You're Not Drinking Enough Coffee 
  2. Your Peanut Allergy Is Mom's Fault.  
  3. Eggs Are OK, after all.
  4. Salt Your Food As Much As You Want.

Monday, February 23, 2015

More Big Ten Memories (It's Big Ten Time!)

Will Rottler sent me this pic and suggested it as a good Big Ten Memory.  I was actually there when it happened, but I think we should use it as a crowd-sourced memory.  Please help by supplying the back story to this photo in the comments below.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Your Big Ten Memories! But First Mine.

I'm very pleased to be among those included in the thoughts of those in charge of the Penn State Track and Field hierarchy.  As an active Alumni group, we have plenty to offer, and with our continued efforts, Penn State's standing in the Track and Field World will only grow.  So when Will Rottler tipped me off to the next blog post from his office and asked me to help, I let my mind wander to "What is my best Big Ten memory?"

You see, I'm way too old, and have no athletic connections to the Big Ten.  I did run in the Coaches Conference Championships in 1980, Joe Paterno's failed effort to form an Eastern Conference of football.  It eventually became the Big East, at least partially.  I don't think there was ever another track and field iteration of the Coaches Conference.

But I do have a fairly significant Big Ten memory (at least to me!).  Back in those early years I actually had football tickets and standing reservations at Toftrees for the football games.  But when the paid-in-full-a-year-in-advance criteria came into being, I noticed that an efficiency apartment for the full year was substantially less than the 6 or 7 football game accomadations.  So I had an efficiency apartment on College Avenue for 4 years and could go to State College at any time for any event, including sporting events, Arts Festivals, concerts and just about anything else, (including just fleeing my mundane existence).  Needless to say, a cozy apartment that slept 6 just steps away from campus, restaurants and McClanahans made me more popular than I have ever been, before or after.

So when the 1996 Big Ten Outdoor Championships were held at Penn State, I was there with bells on.  My wife came with me, even though she was pregnant with our first kid after years of "waiting".  When she told me she wasn't feeling well during the meet, she asked to walk back to the apartment and would see me after the meet.

She still wasn't feeling well when I returned, nor for days afterward.  Despite this she continued to go to work, feeling worse and worse every day.  As it turned out, she was suffering from complications of pregnancy of a significant nature, with a high chance of mortality for her and our child.  A simple blood pressure wrist device I had saved her life, as it registered the highest reading I had ever seen.  I took her to the hospital and in an emergency c-section, my daughter was born the next day, 9 1/2 weeks before she was due. 

As I held the birdlike thing in the palm of my rather small hand, I asked the hulking neonatal specialist in front of me "Will she make it?"  I'll never forget the very certain response he gave me.  "She's a keeper."  Despite her 2nd day weight of below 2 pounds, she is now a healthy Penn State Freshman this year with better grades than I ever got, and a First Team All-Conference medal in cross country for the PSU campuses, which she got running in the Penn State National.

 Despite my usual grumpiness and general Curmudgeon-like demeanor, I am fully aware of what a miracle is.  And it all started at a Big Ten Championship Meet in State College.  Sorta...

Now, please give me some of your Big Ten memories which I'll pass along to Will and the team.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Plea To Join Us This Year

I often said that either viewing a Tiger Woods commercial or having mini-golfed once in the past 10 years qualifies you for our Coach Groves Golf Tournament in May (16th!).  But with Tiger having disappeared from the scene and mini-golf courses closing all over the US, I have come up with a new criteria.

If you know who Bill Murray is, you are more than able to golf with us!  The tourney is a Best Ball format (actually a best ball scramble!)  which means you don't even have to know how to golf to enjoy the company of so many of us Alums, thrashing and hacking through the greenery of Happy Valley.  If you blindly sink 1 putt out of the 36 or more you take, you'll be heralded as a savior and lavished with praise by Coach Groves himself.  There are numerous non-golfers enshrined on The Cup as I speak.

Please consider joining us in honoring Coach Groves, and the entire Penn State Track Family on May 16th.

Artist's Conception of Bill Appearing at our tourney.
Here's a great article about Bill in Golf Digest and a link to the website Bill Murray Stories.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

It's Deja Vu All Over Again

My perusal of the internet netted me this pic of Blog Contributor Nick Scarpello following a fine 10-Miler in 51:16, which is almost exactly my PR for the distance.  I won't tell him by how many seconds I bested him in 1977!  But then again, today 10 miles takes me 3 days or more, so I'm not bragging.  I won a frozen turkey back then but I think he won cash. Nice run Nick!

Excellent use of the Alumni Singlet.
Maximum exposure of Alumni Singlet!
And be sure to contact Nick if you are interested in The Encinitas Mile.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Three Track Meets And A Renaissance

It was pretty difficult keeping up with the PSU Track Team this week, as they split into 3 squads and headed for the far reaches of the United States.

The closest squad competed at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio. A second set traveled to The Tyson Invite in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The third group traveled to The Husky Classic in Seattle, Washington.  That'a a lot of miles, for sure.


  • Spire Institute:    Za'von Watkins  1:50.68  800M, Luke Pease  4,364 points, Heptatlon
  • Tyson Invite:  Darrell Hill 67' 2.75" SP, Womens 4 x 400  3:34.90, Brian Leap 51-9.25 TJ, Steve Waithe 51-7.25 TJ
  • Husky Classic:  Robby Creese 7:50.36, 3000M (School Record), Brannon Kidder 3:57.13 Mile (0.02 off Robby Creese's School Record)
That makes 2 sub-3:58 milers on the Penn State Squad!  And yet they have plenty of competition.  Yesterday 4 Georgetown runners ran under 4:00 for the mile in the same race in Boston.  And Oklahoma State had 3 runners under the mark yesterday.  It truly is a Renaissance for middle distance running in America. A total of 19 college athletes ran under 4:00 for the mile yesterday across the nation.

At the Valentine's Invitational in Boston, the third heat was rather remarkable!
                                        1 Bartelsmeyer, Amos Georgetown 3:58.45
                                        2 Bile, Ahmed Georgetown 3:58.54
                                        3 Manahan, Ryan Georgetown 3:58.57
                                        4 Lederhouse, Michael Georgetown 3:59.54

Bridget Franek greets Nittany Lions.
Photo by Paul Merca.

In other PSU Alumni action, Cas Loxsom won the 800 M at the Husky Classic with a very fine lean at the tape and a 1:47.81.  And Bridget Franek jumped back into action in the 3000 M with a 9:14.05.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Tortoise And The Hare

First up, the tortoise.  And what a tortoise!  A tortoise that, if he could talk, would be able to tell us what the world was like during the same time as the very first wagon train crossed the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming.  No kidding.  I swear I'm not making that up!  Jonathan is 183 years old.  At least.  He could be older...

Just like with Gary, don't get your fingers near Jonathan's mouth.

As for the hare, I have an apology to make.  I excluded Gary Black's Performance from the 2014 Performance of the Year final poll because so many votes came in from his Austrian friends, it overwhelmed the votes from our faithful readers.  Gary's European friend's got wind of the poll and easily bested the totals from any previous poll we have run.  That made Gary's exploits the top performance of 2014, bettering a National title in the shot put, a second place National finish in the 800M and the second fastest distance medley relay ever run in the NCAA.  I felt justified in excluding him from the finals.  But now I have reconsidered.

And now that he bettered his 2014 performance in the 2015 Dopey Challenge in Disney Worlds Marathon weekend (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon on successive days) by 90 minutes, I have created a special category for his exploits.  So he is the first winner of the Joint Replacement Performance Which Is Still Way Better Than Anything I Can Do With Real Joints Award.  See, Gary ran under 9 minutes/mile in the entire event with 2 artificial hips.  

He will be receiving a lobster dinner from Red Lobster during the Lobsterfest from me as compensation for my error.  And he promises to do better next year!  I slink off in shame...

The Alumni Singlet was a nice touch!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Drama, As One Alumni Golfer Tries To Steal Another's Record

In my large stack of submissions, this one caught the eye of our Morale and Laundry Officer and makes for a great quick post before I head off to work.

"Ryan Foster, who earned All-American honors and a Big Ten championship for Penn State, won the State College First Night Resolution Run 5K on Jan. 31 in 15 minutes, 17 seconds, just two seconds shy of fellow Penn State alum Artie Gilkes’ course record.
His wife Kara (Millhouse) Foster, a two-time 10K champion for Penn State, took the women’s title in 17:13."
State College First Night Resolution Run 

Coming Soon: Coach Groves' Stories Podcast

I recorded a few mp3's at the Coaches Reception on Saturday night, with various Alums telling a "Coach Groves" story.  Ryan Foster's story is among them.  And considering that Ryan came to Penn State after Coach Groves retired, somehow his story will still ring true with everyone coached by him from 1968 through 2006.  The stories were coaxed from about a dozen people at the event, some willing, some reluctant and a couple quite resistant.  The caveat was they had to be R-rated or equal to what TV censors would allow on the TV show 2 1/2 Men.  That left a few of them out, as you can imagine.  All of them reflect Coach in a wonderful light, his ever present non-PC self shining through in each and every one. One even entails the day our Co-Blogger and Administrator Matt Groves came into this world!  I'll try to get to work putting them into a mini-podcast soon.  If anyone wants to add one let me know and we can arrange a Skype call to record it.  I may even add one or 2 of my own, which many of you have heard a million times. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Winners, Winners. Chicken Dinners.

Not only was there a big meeting of over 100 Penn State Track and Field Alumni, but there was action all over the Country from those who could not attend.  And what a fine collection of wins there was!

The PSU haeadband is still in place!
  •  Mahogany Jones (53.59 400M) helped the Brooks New Balance (I was trying to make a funny but was called on it after just a few seconds after posting it!) team set the World Record 10:42.57 in the Distance Medley Relay in Boston!  
  • Our own Robby Creese now leads the NCAA Indoor Rankings in the Mile standing for unconverted times with his solo 600 M finish in the Sykes-Sabock Challenge.
Photo by Jim McClelland.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Quick Post On The Coaches Reception and Sykes/Sabock Challenge


Track Alumni Golfer Owen Dawson paces the One Mile with a splendid 1200M (sorta 1200!) while wearing his Alumni Singlet.  Always a highlight in my book!

After Owen's excellent 1200M (sorta 1200!), future PSU Track and Field Alumni Golfer Robby Creese took over and won the mile with this year's #1 NCAA unconverted Mile of 3:57.86.

 Ex-Freshman Roommates Tom Rapp and Larry Mangan reunite at the Ashenfelter Complex.  Tom's wife Mary Rawe was also an All-American and 1977 Freshman classmate of all of us.

Alumni Golfer, past foursome teammate and William and Mary head coach Steve Walsh actually got me to pose for a very rare pic of myself.  I promised him I would post it on the blog with it all, despite my overall desire for anonymity. During the entire day, I noticed  that I was the shortest person in every room I was in.

Coach John Gondak arranged the whole affair to bring as many Alumni together as possible and to honor past coaches.  Coach Teri Jordan thanked the crowd of over 100 with a brief speech.

Coach Groves gave an even briefer speech, but was mobbed all night by everyone there.  Just as it should be.

In the background just to the right of Coach is Ken Brinker, Alumni Golfer extraordinaire!  It was announced that Ken recently donated $100,000 to the PSU Track Program.  Our Chief Morale and Laundry Officer Larry Mangan is currently organizing the effort to match Ken's magnanimity.  More of that is to come.

 Penn State's Indoor 3000M Record Holder Sam Masters and Fiance came up with the best excuse for missing this year's Golf Tourney.  They are getting married that day in Missouri.  Officially, that will be the only excuse us Idiot Officers will now allow!

 Greg Fredericks received his Alumni T-Shirt from Le faucon d'orange Mark Hawkins.  He was gifted the item by us Idiot Officers for the extraordinary efforts he has made for Coach Groves in the past year.

Greg models the Special Edition Alumni T-Shirt made for Roger "Gunny" Roll for his above-and-beyond efforts for Coach Groves in the past year. 


Artist's conception
 On the late-night drive home, I ran over a skunk near Seven Mountains and was later almost hit head-on by a high-speed car driving the wrong way on Route 83 north of York. I really wish I could have stayed over night in State College. Two trips through the car wash has not dissipated the smell and I still have a tremor thinking about the almost crash.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

News From A 800 U Recruiting Ground

Dick Geiger brings us news from the great State of Tennessee.  He was a Field Official at the Vanderbilt High School Invitational where 24 runners ran under 2:00 for the 800M. The Girls also had some top times in the nation.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Joy Of A Personal Best

Jim McClelland takes pictures.  Lots of pictures.  And all of them are great.  He is a big part of the Parents Network I mentioned joining last week.  I hope there are some golfers among them!

I chose this photo to represent all his others for the sheer joy on Erin Knabe's face after vaulting a personal best. (I'm assuming it is a personal best.!)  I was there at the Ashenfelter Track when it happened.  Good to know someone captured the moment so well!

It looks like us Alumni Golfers have to up our game to become as dynamic a group as the Penn State Track and Field Parents Network!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhog Monday and Super Hangover Day

The seer of seers was in a surly mood when they ripped him from his toasty lair this AM for the prediction we all await with knowing gloom.  And Snowmageddon III came through last night here in South-Central PA, bringing with it the third inch of snow for our area.  Roads are practically empty and my appointments have dwindled to 66% or so despite the non-event.  At least the Mayor of Gotham didn't manage to kill another cousin of Phil this year! They had her protected by a lucite enclosure just in case he had more nefarious intentions. Have any of you attended the ceremony at Gobbler Knob?

Our Idiot Officers were well represented at the big celebration in Phoenix yesterday too!  Grand, Exalted IT Czar Jeff Sanden obtained tickets from a box of crackerjacks or something.* 

Have I mentioned, "I hate you",  Jeff?

In other news of note relating to previous posts here on the blog with it all, arson only means probation at PSU.

And all that crap about 1% incline on the treadmill to account for the lack of wind resistance is just that, a bunch of crap.**

*Not really.  I'm sure he earned them somehow!
** Except when running fast, possibly.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Darrell Hill Steals The Show Again

I traveled up to State College to see some friends and escape my mundane existence in South-Central PA.  I was hoping to capture some footage for my fledgling Reality Show.  When I arrived I took a quick tour around the Ashenfelter Facility and saw no one I knew.  Nothing special considering my 20 years of so of a hermit-like existence following graduation.  I got to watch warm ups for the upcoming Mens Shot Put.  It's actually an event I fully enjoy despite my 11 foot PR in the event. The season-by-season, year-by-year discipline and step-wise progression with these guys is really something to watch and admire.

As I saw Darrell Hill warming up I thought "He looks like he's ready for a big throw."  But what does a former college 118 pound second-string distance runner know about the throws?  I paid no more attention and didn't watch the actual event as I finally ran into pole-vaulter Don Skerpon, 800 U great Steve Shisler and the ever younthful Nick K.  When the results were posted on the big board, I was confused, as was Don.  Darrel set the all-time PSU record several weeks ago, bypassing the NCAA Champion C. J. Hunter with his toss of over 66 feet.  The board today said 67 feet 3.5 inches! There had to be a mistake.  But there wasn't!  Congrats to Darrell on the leading throw in the NCAA so far this year and the new School Record.

I'm busy trying to write a big man into my Reality Show scripts.
There was some action on the 800 U: Winner Take All front.  Following the photo-finish and apparently extra-exciting Distance Medley Relay on Friday night, I was psyched to watch the 800 M Invitational. And it didn't disappoint either...

Brannon Kidder was coming back from his stellar  2:51 1200M in the relay the day before. It didn't seem to affect him as he took the lead off the final turn to win the event in 1:47.86, the third ranked time in the NCAA.  I even got a photo of the pivotal moment of the race with my Droid Maxx!  Five PSU underclassmen were under 1:52 in the event! Game On in the Reality Series as Georgetown superstar Amos Bartlesmeyer pulled out of the race trying to double from his 1600M leg of the relay the night before.

  1 Kidder, Brannon    JR Penn State  1:47.86
  2 Windle, Drew       SR Ashland     1:48.41
  3 Murphy, Clayton    SO Akron       1:48.47
  4 Manahan, Ryan      SO Georgetown  1:48.63
  5 Muhammad, Ishmael  FR Villanova   1:50.82
  6 Watkins, Za'Von    JR Penn State  1:50.92
  7 Rhodes, Robert     JR Penn State  1:51.03
  8 Logue, Joey        FR Penn State  1:51.49
  9 Makins, Jordan     FR Penn State  1:51.88

The Mile gave me my first glimpse of Georgetown's Ahmed Bile, with PSU's Wade Endress and Alumni Golfer Owen Dawson mixing it up in the inevitable sub-4 race (8 years in a row!)  Owen seems to be in great shape early in his training season with his 4:03 and Wade set his PR with a 4:02 effort.  A personal shout-out to both from me on great runs!

Early in the race with Ahmed Bile in third, Owen Dawson in 4th and Wade Endress in 5th.
  1 Denault, Robert         JR Villanova   3:58.25
  2 Bile, Ahmed             SO Georgetown  3:59.04
  3 Knight, Justyn          FR Unattached  3:59.51
  4 Hehir, Martin           SR Syracuse    3:59.81
  5 Garcia-Garrison, Andrew SR Bucknell    4:02.35
  6 Endress, Wade           JR Penn State  4:02.69
  7 Leibold, Collin         JR Georgetown  4:03.29
  8 Dawson, Owen            AG Bryn Mawr   4:03.83

And let's not let fellow Alumni Golfer Kyle Dawson out of the mix as I caught a blurry view of him in the 3000M as he checked out his early season fitness on the banked turns of his home track.  We had a good conversation at the end of the meet discussing our experiences of running in the  tunnels under the 322 Bypass.  Not for the faint of heart.

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