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...

Monday, May 30, 2016

Where 800U All Began

Coach Groves' very first Championship of America at Penn Relays was the 1983 4 x 800M race.  I have talked about it before, but now I have some extra great photos to go with it.

I was actually in the front row directly opposite the start/finish line, which was a tremendous vantage point to see it all!  And apparently Tom Shiffer was very near me.  Because he took a bunch of photos of all of the runners, and dug them out after the Reunion and sent them my way.  Thus, all of us can enjoy them for posterity.

That's Paul McLaughlin, Randy Moore, Mike Cook and Kenny Wynn in all their glory.  John Marshall and  Marcus O'Sullivan also appear in the pics.  Our Blog Laureate and others will pipe in with more on our Facebook site...

All photos courtesy of Tom Shiffer. Keep them coming Tom!

This is also the race where my future wife was standing next to Coach Groves in the stands, as he was not in his usual place beneath the clock.  He related he was too nervous and headed into the stands.  When they finished and began their victory lap, Barb saw Coach actually crying real tears.  He asked her to never tell anyone, which lasted as long as it took to for her to find me at the front row.  When Coach tells people that Championships of America victories mean more to him than Olympic ones, he really does mean it.  That statement alone made George Steinbrenner once write a check to the Penn Relays for $1 Million!  True story (for once on our blog!)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Days of Our Lives: 800U Division

  • Isaiah Harris qualified for the NCAA Championships with a controlled race and the 2nd fastest qualifying time at the Regionals in the 800M.
  •  Brannon Kidder also coasted just a little bit and qualified in the 1500M (after last year's runner-up finish in the 800M).
  •  Next year's Nittany Lion Domenic Perretta finished off his high school career with his third straight 800M/1600M double in the PIAA Championships!
  • And his future teammate Michael Slagowski became only the second third high schooler to run a second sub-4 mile in the same Outdoor season indoor/outdoor season (Jim Ryun and Drew Hunter). Thanks to our Laundry and Morale Officer/Blog Laureate for the correction of the interns facts!
Michael Slagowski and Domenic Perretta at Indoor Nationals.

Michael Slagowski lining up with the pros.

And to top it off, past middle distance star Mike Pfaff appeared on Days of Our Lives on Friday! Thanks to Matt Hutzelmann for the screen grab!

Mike Pfaff on Days of Our Lives, left.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Updates From The Reunion

As I suspected, Coach Groves' personal chauffeur sent along a picture of Coach with his new Rusty Boot Award.  Only cool people can get away with wearing sunglasses indoors!

And one of our most ardent supporters posted a picture of the 1983 team that has garnered us a couple of new members and plenty of interest for next year's event. Thanks, Vivian Riddick, your support is valued more than you will ever know.

As I explained to her, attracting women was never one of my better skills.  (Hint for you youngsters out there, puppies help!)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Winners, An Award Fumble And More

The winners of the 2016 Coach Groves Golf Tournament are:
  1. Che Arosemena
  2. Coach Kevin Kelly
  3. Mike McClelland
  4. Kevin Fuller
This places Kevin Fuller into the prestigious Hall of Honor!
Each will have their named etched into the Coach Groves Memorial Cup (not really a Cup, and Coach is still very much alive and can still probably kick your butt), which now resides with substitute Keeper of the Cup Tim Backenstose following a mix-up typical of us Idiot Officers.  Apparently, the true Keeper of the Cup Harry Smith arranged for Owen Dawson to pick it up and place it on display at the Horace Ashenfelter Indoor Complex at the end of our Awards Dinner.

But when Chief Laundry and Morale Officer found it on the table with everyone else gone from the Awards Dinner, I texted him to take it with him.  He gave it to Tim Backenstose for secure storage in suburban Philly, giving Owen Dawson quite a few anxious moments!

Photos by Digital Archive Goddesses Bria Ziter and Kay Warfel.

The winners!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Coach Groves Was The Recipient Of The First Ever "Rusty Boot" Award

We introduced a new award to the mix at the latest Reunion and Golf Tournament.  The Rusty Boot is meant to symbolize all that is good about Penn State Track and Field and Cross Country.

We had tried to discover the origins of the Rusty Boot team cheer and had traced it all the way back into the 60's without ever finding out more than that.  But when Coach Bill Whittaker opined that he had the original pair of rusty boots, I was intrigued.  And he certainly had what one can describe as one gnarly pair of Adidas javelin spikes.  With 1" spikes in both front and back, I likened them to the velociraptors of track spikes.

I devised a plan to turn them into an award for the Reunion which would represent the highest pinnacle any of us could attain.  So I sent one of them off to be bronzed and crossed my fingers, as the process isn't always successful.  But I received the beauty just in time to bring it to the Reunion last week.  All thanks must go to Coach Whittaker.

Behold, The Rusty Boot!  I will try to get Greg Fredericks to take a picture of the actual spikes as it resides at Coach Groves' residence in State College.  Visit Coach some time to see it in-person.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Some Raw, Unedited Drone Videos From The Track

Each of these videos is unedited.  These flights were made in preparation of filming the Alumni "Run" to synchronize the magnetic compasses and define waypoints to follow the runners around the track.  But they still contain some gems, like Owen Dawson and Steve Waithe working out on Thursday afternoon, and a panorama of the Indoor Complex, Bryce Jordan Center, Beaver Stadium and Nittany Mountain from 400 feet (6:48 of the Outdoor Track Video).  And my first crash of Airship 800U!  In my defense, it was inside a large building with metal roof and girders.  There wasn't any way to fully maneuver the beast reliably because of no compass or GPS.  The only way to land was either by a little crash or grabbing it out of the sky, which is not recommended.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Notes From The Reunion Weekend

  1. The meal by PSU catering at the Indoor Complex was one of the best I have ever had at an event like ours.  The BBQ 1/2 chickens and ribs were complimented by several sauces, the raspberry chipotle being my favorite.  The mac and cheese was the absolute best I have ever had.  Even the salads were esquisite to this "occasional" salad eater!  The open bar kept many in the best of moods. Desserts were "to die for".
  2. I couldn't fly the drone Airship 800U outside on Saturday because of the rain, but it did get some Thursday and Friday flights at the track with great results.  And I flew it indoors at the Ashenfelter Complex before the Alumni "Run" and only crashed it while landing!
  3. Coach Groves came to all the events with his private chauffeur and had a wonderful time.
  4. The rain didn't daunt the golfers among us.  Thirty-one of the thirty-two who signed up braved the conditions for the duration.  There was even sleet at the finish, just to welcome all of us home to State College.
  5. We all are trying to make next year's event over-the-top great!  We will attempt to arrange the whole thing during the PSU hosting of the Big Ten Outdoor Track Championships next year.  That may even free up some of you who can't come normally because of High School District Meets.  Stay tuned...
  6. Some of you had some nice things to say to me about the blog and all of our efforts to unite all 1,500 or so PSU Track and Field Alumni.  I thank all of you for helping to spread the word.  It is starting to have a real effect!
  7. Tim Backenstose went out of his way to present to me a framed pic of me in the Penn Relays Marathon in 1979 (He won the whole thing!).  He needed the help of a professional photo enhancement specialist in Hollywood to pull it off.  It means more to me than he can ever know. It will be on display in my treadmill room along with my Rec Hall lockers and Letter certificate signed by both Coach Groves and Joe Paterno.  Thank you Tim!!!
  8. Coach Groves received the very first presentation of the "Rusty Boot", an award symbolizing everything that's good about PSU Track and Field and Cross Country.  This was made by bronzing one of Coach Bill Whittaker's javelin spikes from 1970, a quite gnarly sight.
  9. Coach Gondak received an Alumni Singlet through the efforts of our Faucon 'de Orange Mark Hawkins.  This was only the second such special singlet given out with the word Coach in the lower bar.  We all thanked him for having the Penn Relays 4 x 800M winning team wear the throwback singlets for the Championship of America race.
  10. With the constant rain all day Saturday, we forgot to place the markers for the specialty holes on the course, so we don't have Closest to the Pin, Longest Putt, Longest Drive winners this year.  But I'm pretty sure all of those winners were in my threesome.  Nick K. won the closest to the pin, Clark Haley won the Longest Drive and I won the Longest Putt.  And I have the Golden Putter to prove it!
  11. Those usually in charge of the Coach Groves Golf Tourney Championship Cup forgot it at the track after the event and it was retrieved by our Chief Laundry Officer and given to Tim Backenstose for safe keeping.  Thus, Tim is now our Keeper of the Cup, a title of honor in our group.  Tim also won the "Rob Whiteside" Brotherhood Award for actually golfing with us despite hating golf more than I do!  Rob Whiteside was unable to attend the event, as he just had passed into New Jersey during his through-hike of the Appalachian Trail.  This was the only certified excuse for missing the event.  Others take warning.  
Turns out that The Cup was left behind on purpose by The Keeper of the Cup Harry Smith so that Owen Dawson would place it in a display for all to see year round at the Track Facility!  There is no Idiot quite like a Track Alumni Idiot Officer, me included!
All photos stolen from Hanna Humphries and Jim McClelland!

Most of the attending Alumni.

Beth Shisler, Doreen Statare McCoubrie, Vivian Riddick, Elaine LaFramboise Pino, Hanna Humphries.

The Mall

Coach Groves, the Ladies Man!

Coach Jordan, center.

The Alumni "Run" was well attended.

Fun despite the rain! Eric Schwartz, Don Ziter, Jim McClelland and Coach Gondak.

Coach Groves, center court, with his chauffeur.

Kierrun O'Brien.

Coach Gondak with a Penn Relays Wheel!

Coach Groves with the Rusty Boot.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Store Is Only Open For Ten More Days!

Our first window of the Kelly's Team Sports Group Store is only open for 10 more days.  It is time to check out the Official Alumni Jacket and Back Pack now on sale.  Each is of high quality from Nike (former PSU trackster Mark Parker's very own company).  The costs are very good with $50 for the jacket and $39 for the back pack.  Those of you who attended the Reunion and Golf Tourney saw the samples I provided.  Now you need one of your own to spread the word of our Program and Alumni Group throughout the land.

Go to www.kellysteamsports.com, click on the Shop Your Team Store button, and type in the password PSUTFA.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Alumni "Run": PSU IS 800U Even For Alumni!

The morning Alumni "Run"  was another success this year despite the drizzle. The Alumni were led this year by 800U stalwarts Brannon Kidder and Isaiah Harris along with the rest of the team headed to the NCAA Prelims next week. Coach Groves was there to start them off and watch the first crash of Airship 800U! (That bird is one tough bugger!)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Big Crowd, Open Bar

Coach Gondak and Greg Fredericks.

We had a big and diverse crowd at the reception at Inferno last night. And if the gods are willing, I'll bring you some pics from the Alumni "Run"  today.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Airship 800U Christened

This is always my "one day off" every year.  I take the day off and make it up to State College to chill before the Reunion and Golf Tourney. 

I figured I better take the drone out and get it ready for the Alumni "Run" at the track because I had the time.  That will allow me to calibrate the compass and GPS systems.  And if the forecasts are correct, I may not be able to fly on Saturday anyway!

And lo and behold, who do I see at the track when I arrive but two of our Alumni Group working out on their own in their quest for post-college glory!  Steve Waithe was raking his own pit and Owen Dawson was clicking off a few intervals.

I took a few pics of the surroundings and flew the bird to the limit of 400 feet to look around.  All systems are go!

Steve Waithe.

Nittany Mountain will be conquered by my dog Pooky on Saturday.

Steeple pit is empty!

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