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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Meet The Coaches Social After The Sykes And Sabock Challenge Cup This Weekend!

Be sure to let Owen Dawson know you are coming.  And in keeping with the Track Alumni Lifestyle, there is an OPEN BAR!

 

Monday, January 30, 2017

It's Personal This Time


Time to stand up and save our friends at Lock Haven Track and Field who are now on the chopping block.  And as I have said numerous times, "An Athletic Department without Athletics (Track and Field) is an empty Department."




Lock Haven has put forward a proposal to cut men's track and field (and women's swimming). The PSU team has very close ties with LHU including the annual Dolan Duels.
Below is a notice that has been posted to social media outlining how you can show support for the program. Please take the time to show your support.
Hey everyone! Thank you very much for the immediate support of this page and cause. We appreciate any and all support you may have to offer our men's track and field program at Lock Haven University. This program has contributed insurmountably to my college experience and development into a young adult. We would love for all alumni, current students, parents, family, friends, and supporters to post their experiences with Lock Haven University Track & Field as well as Cross Country (as this will inevitably be indirectly impacted by the proposed cuts) to comment their experiences at LHU. Why you came to the Haven, why you loved it here, or how it has contributed to where you ended up are all encouraged for everyone to see. As competitors, rivals, and friends outside the team we would appreciate comments expressing your feelings towards our program. I know personally I would have missed the opportunity to form rivalries and friendships within the PSAC if any other program would have been cut. Please take the time at the least to like and share this page. If you have more time to support our cause we would appreciate it greatly if you could send e-mails containing your positive support of our program to the following people:
President Michael Fiorentino - mfiorentino@lhup.edu
VP Rodney Jenkins - rj2253@lhup.edu
Athletic Director Thomas Gioglio - tmg252@lhup.edu
Council of Trustees Gwen Bechdel - gbechdel@lhup.edu
Save Haven account - savehavenlhu@gmail.com
Be sure to use #savehaven on all social media to continue our outpouring of support! Thanks again!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Musings From The Penn State National


First, let's get the two Performances of the Week out of the way.

In order to not incur the wrath of Group Officers, the Interns have been banned from giving their opinion this week.  And despite the duo of Malik Moffett and Xavier Smith going first and second in the 200M AGAIN (21.06 and 21.26 with Dan Chisema in third!), they are just among the rest of the honorable mentions this week!

  • A World Record absolutely deserves top mention, right?  Well, when 2 members of our group happen to dip UNDER the existing world record, even the Interns would have to pick that event, right?  So indeed, Casimir Loxsom's new world record 600M tops our list for the week.  Only the second runner to dip under the 1:15.00 barrier all-time (1:14.91), he was followed extremely closely by Sophomore Isaiah Harris* in 1:14.96!
A half of a victory lap!

I had the pleasure to speak with Casimir after the race and can offer this exclusive quote, "That was fun."  He was thrilled that efforts to erase his record just two hours later fell apart for Duane Solomon in Boston.  He also confirms he will participate with my 10 Questions about 800M running for a future post with 800M legend Dave Wottle (Honorary member of 800U) and other PSU standouts.

Le faucon d'orange with Casimir Loxsom.

  • And next up is the third School Record in a row by Freshman Danae Rivers!!!, this time in the Mile.  She demolished the existing record with a dominating 4:34.87. She followed that up with a leg of the 4x400M relay!  Her range is astounding.
Both Danae and Casimir attended the same high school, Wilbur Cross HS in Derby, CT.  Whatever is in the water there, we need some more of it here. Or maybe it's the pizza there. I hear it's the best in the world?

I had the pleasure to speak with several members of 800U during the meet.  Michael Slagowski had just made his debut in the 1000M, so I didn't bother him (much!).  Domenic Perretta* was in a good mood after his very fine 1200M performance on Friday and went on to win the 800M Invitational in 1:50.33, just off his PR.  He seems to be adjusting to the rigors of University well!

Dom Perretta winning the 800M.

Robbie Creese returned to the ranks of fresh sub-4 Milers with a splendid 3:59.73 and family members are interested in finally getting him the Alumni Singlet he deserves. Mark Hawkins (who ran the Open Mile on Friday!) actually has an extra Medium version with blank year space for any emergencies.  Let us know! (The next order may coincide with the Alumni Reunion/Coach Groves Golf Tourney and Big Ten Championships! Stay tuned to the blog with it all.)  Robbie followed that up with the finest rabbiting of the day in the 3000M. (Where were the Fullers when they were needed?)  Owen Dawson mixed it up with the runners in the 3000M, so wasn't able to rabbit any of the other events either.

Another School Record fell with the 9:07.22 3000M efforts of Tessa Barrett, fastest in the NCAA so far this year.  Right behind her was graduate Tori Gerlach in 9:10.09 who has outdoor eligibility remaining.

Others in attendance were Jess Riden and Bridget Franek in their new roles for Stanford and Akron respectively.  Sorry I missed both of you.

All in all, it was a great afternoon spent with friends both old (you know who you are!) and new.

And after all of this, I got to celebrate Chinese New Year with Daughter the Elder and Daughter the Younger at the Golden Wok in State College.  An excellent version of Kung Pao Chicken was had containing actual lip-numbing  szechuan peppercorns! These were banned in the US for many years.



* It is remotely possible that the "Lion Pride" Alumni Wrist Bands I presented to Isaiah and Dom had a bit to do with their excellent performances later in the afternoon.  Isaiah actually wore his during his Collegiate Record 600M!  And I am scouring all the crevices in my house to find a "800U" version for both of them.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017

My Favorite Indoor Meet


I will be in attendance for the Saturday afternoon session of the Penn State National Open. It has been my favorite meet of the indoor season for quite a while now.  Mostly because it almost always has a sub-4 mile and the rest of the middle distance events are always stellar.  It was also the first sighting I had of our Olympian Darrell Hill heaving the metal ball a few years ago.

This year's event will also feature a return of 2 favorites of recent vintage.  Jess Risen will accompany the Stanford team back to her "hometown" (Indian Valley is close enough!).  And Brannon Kidder's roommate Casimir Loxsom will be circling the track at least 5 3 times in the 1000M 600M. (And you thought there wasn't any math involved with the blog!)

Be sure to say hello if you see me.  I will try to remember to bring the remaining stash of wrist bands and buttons for my loyal readers.

It is also Chinese New Year, a special holiday in our Family honoring Daughter the Younger's heritage.  I will be heading to a special Chinese dinner after the meet to ensure good luck in this New Year.  Yeah, you guessed my entree choice!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Athlete Of The Week, Again!


When I made the decision to overlook the 800M performances by PSU athletes in last week's meet as my choice for Performance of the Week, I took some heat from fellow blog writers.  My only comeback is that I know the 800M runners will get many more accolades this year and in the years to come.  And I wanted to point out the rarity of a 1,2 finish by Penn State sprinters in a big Invitational.

My suspicions were correct, as Isaiah Harris garnered another huzzah from the Big Ten!  Can't wait to see the Mens and Womens middle distance runners this weekend!  Along with the return of Casimir Loxsom and Jess Riden!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Big Guys Can Do Practically Everything


I have noted for years that former Nittany Lion and Pittsburgh Steeler FULLBACK Jon Witman won the PIAA long jump in his Senior season of high school.  It was a rainy day and the jumpers seeded ahead of him couldn't get their steps correct.  Jon just did his usual thing and won with a 21-foot leap. (Or so, Blog Interns are scrambling to find that out!)

But nothing prepares us for this!  Olympian Darrell Hill in the triple jump at the New Balance Games at the Armory in NYC for his Penn Woods high school team in 2011.  He relates his jump was 39 feet, which eclipses any I have ever taken.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Don't End Up In A Van Down By The River!


Yes, this year's Track Alumni Reunion and Coach Groves Golf Tourney will be held the same weekend as the Big Ten Championships at the resurfaced Penn State Track! May 12-14.
While this is a great thing, it does create some problems...


 

Like where to stay for the festivities.  Needless to say. Get a reservation in early and consider bunking with another attendee NOW!  You wouldn't want to end up living in a van down by the river.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Happy 49th, errrr, 94th Birthday Horace Ashenfelter!

2012 Alumni Reunion, with the Golden Putter.

94 years young.

2016, still lacing them up.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

My Top 2 Performances From the Rod McCravy Memorial Invitational


The distance runners didn't participate and Mike Slagowski isn't debuting until next week (?).  That left it up to the rest of the middle distance runners, jumpers, throwers and sprinters.

Despite a school record for last week's pick for performance of the week in the 800M (Danae Rivers, 2:04.04) and a fine early season 1:46.65 for Isaiah Harris (second in the NCAA in 2017), I went a different direction this week.

When was the last time Penn State had a 1-2 finish in the 200M at a large invitational?  Well, Malik Moffett and Xavier Smith did just that (21:10 and 21:28)!

Malik Moffett and Xavier Smith
 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Fast Times At Idaho High

 
Not Michael Slagowski.


Ken Cooper found this gem just thrust onto You Tube about the Boise Turkey Trot this past Thanksgiving.

We haven't yet had the debut of Michael Slagowski in a Nittany Lion uniform, but this glimpse of him as the victor of the 5K will suffice for now.  I hope to meet him next week at the Penn State National!



This video also points out the usefulness of drone footage in spreading the word of the best sport in the world.  Too bad the powers-that-be in charge of PSU XC meets have seen to ban them completely despite responsible and law-abiding pilots and a thorough misunderstanding of the rules and laws.  I hope to one day return to see a PSU home XC meet, but will need a written invitation for my lawyer.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How Could This Blogger Link The Inauguration, Saturday Night Live And Penn State Track?


Blog Readership is down as everyone turns their gaze toward the replacement for the Ringling Bros. Circus in Washington DC. So that meant I have some time to think, which is always a bad, bad thing.  Well, my cerebral wanderings took me all over the place, but coalesced around a report I saw on the news this morning.

Sam Moore (of the great R&B/Soul group Sam and Dave) was telling of the scorn he has received for daring to perform for inaugural concerts.  He related he is "getting more attention now than when he was famous"!

Sam and Dave performed one of the greatest hits of all time with "Soul Man".

Most of us know about Soul Man because of the hijinks of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd first performed on SNL in 1978.



But I also remember one of my favorite Track trips while at PSU in 1979.  This was the same meet that John Zeigler missed the bus and had to hitchhike to Pittsburgh just in time for the 10,000M race we were in!

Later that night, some field eventers (jumpers I think) took me out to a bar near campus right near one of my favorite hot dog places (the Dirty O).  There was a "special" that night on $1 beers, which were given in clear 12 oz plastic cups. Maybe it was 2 for $1 even!  Everyone had a high stack of the used cups next to them and were having a definitely overall wonderful time.

But then, things were just getting started.  And they were about to get waaaay better too.

In filed a man wearing a hat, dark sunglasses and a black suit.  He had a briefcase chained to his wrist.  Soon another black-suited gentleman with hat and glasses entered.  In an elaborate display, they opened the briefcase to reveal a single harmonica.  A few more people entered and stood or took seats on a cramped stage.  The horns, guitars, drums and who knows what else just kept coming, until abruptly they all started in on the music.  It was wonderful, and the clear cups of yellow nectar kept coming!



They played the entire album of the Blues Brothers, and it was joyous to the extreme.  They were mostly members of the Pitt Band, but there were a few older people amongst them.  They were having just as much fun as the stacked-cup rabble surrounding them.

Eventually, the yellow concoction caught up with me and I didn't remember how it ended or who I was rooming with or anything.  If anyone remembers this event, please chime in!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

It's Not The Kind Of Social Where You Have To Worry About Your Pinky Finger


Penn State Track and Field will be having an Alumni Social at our usual haunt, Lettermans, after the Sykes and Sabock Challenge Cup on February 4 at 6:30PM.  You will get a chance to meet the current coaching staff and former coaches as well!

There will be light food and an open bar, which fits in well with the Track Alumni Lifestyle!

Be sure to RSVP to Owen Dawson by January 30th. (Ofd5000@psu.edu)

Artist's Conception.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

My Choices Of Performance Of The Meet Nittany Lion Challenge


I watched a fair amount of the meet via Flo Track Pro, but of course I missed these two performances.  I would relish any arguments on this.

  • Bryce Williams, 51' 8.25" in the Triple Jump, a year after an ACL injury.
  • Danae Rivers, 1:29.06 School Record in the 600M.
The eagerly anticipated 1000M race was a very good one, but Isaiah Harris just couldn't get past the eventual winner Joseph White of Georgetown in 2:22.14 (to 2:21.96).  A note of impending goodness for PSU was Dom Perretta in third with 2:23.06 PSU is 800U

Former Lion Robby Creese won the Mile in 4:06.29 and doubled back to place 5th in the 1000M in 2:25.08!  Robby probably already knows that he needs an Alumni Singlet for races like these, but if not, someone get him one!

Danae Rivers.

Dom Perretta, a generically shirted Robby Creese and Jordan Makins.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The 1K Seems To Be The Event To Watch Today


The Nittany Lion Challenge is today and figures to highlight the loaded middle distance corps of the Lions.  Despite the absence of Michael Slagowski today (he will debut at the Penn State National), there are enough others to watch with earnest.

At the top of the list is the 1000M, where Isaiah Harris seems to be eager to attack the Collegiate Record of Brannon Kidder.  If he performs well, PSU could have 4 of the top 5 runners ever in the event!

  • Brannon Kidder
  • Robby Creese
  • Ryan Foster
 Event Preview from From Flo Track Pro:

Men's 1000m

When​2:50 PM ET
Who: Isaiah Harris (Penn State), Joe White (Georgetown), Robby Creese (unattached)
Why: This is the race of the meet. According to Track & Field News​, three of the top five collegians ever in the 1000m are Penn State men--Kidder, Creese, and Ryan Foster​. Harris's 1:45.76 800m PR is faster than Creese or Foster ever ran outdoors, and right there with Kidder's 1:45.58. White has run 1:46 for the 800m and 2:23 in the 1000m, so he's a contender, though maybe not for the collegiate record.

Harris finishing fourth in the NCAA and sixth at the Olympic Trials in the 800m was one of the most underrated stories of 2016. In 2017, with Clayton Murphy, Donavan Brazier, Brandon McBride, and Shaq Walker all having turned pro, Harris can be one of the biggest mid-d stars in the collegiate system. A collegiate record would be a great way to remind everyone. Kidder's 2:18.26 is the standard to beat.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Throwback Machine Brings Us Some Goodness From 2010!

Wow!


Ryan Foster started the Indoor Track seaon in great form with a School Record, Australian National Record and World Leading time in the 1000M on Saturday. His 2:19.60 time obliterated the old record. I can't wait for the upcoming 4 X 800 races this year! There were also impressive performances from Shavon Greaves and Fawn Dorr.

The National Record by Ryan allows me to segue to the introduction of our "Hall of Honor" for the Coach Harry Groves Golf Tournament. It will be sort of like the Baseball Hall of Fame except for the voters, steroids, fame and millions of dollars! Final qualifications are not yet complete, but preliminary entries might include:

  1. Those who appear on The Cup more than once, (so even shlubs like me have a prayer).
  2. Any Olympian, All-American, National Champion or National Record Holder that participates* in one of our events.
Fine tuning of these criteria can certainly be done. Let me know by comment or email. Comments on the blog are now moderated to avoid the recent introduction of ads for "male enhancement", Nigerian Bank scams and ads for Ugg Boots. The process is painless and necessary, unfortunately. Maybe now that we are in the top 150,000 most read blogs, it's a price we must pay! (I'm making fun of myself, for those of you who don't know. My blog is still worth $0.00, a value I hope to maintain.)

And those of you that have been patiently waiting for your t-shirts and wrist bands can rest assured they are on their way Monday. Sorry for the delay.

*participation is loosely defined and subject to bribery!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Two Lost Days And Indoor Season Finally Arrives


The Disney Marathon Weekend is over and the Dopey Challengers both finished their 4th in a row, minus the cancelled Half-Marathon on Saturday.

My contribution to the whole thing was the drive home, again in 15 hours 34 minutes or so just like last year.  And it gets harder every year.  Going to work this AM will be my Marathon!  I have literally lost 2 whole days. Where did they go?

But my weariness also points out that it must be time for INDOOR SEASON!  The first meet is this weekend at the Nittany Lion Challenge.  I will be attending the Penn State National in 3 weeks.

Also attending the Penn State National and entering the 600M will be Cas Loxsom!


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Mother Nature Throws a Monkey Wrench At Those Trapped Like A Rat


You never know what can happen with Mother Nature.  Sometimes she throws things you never counted on.  Today's payload was a nasty storm including lightning which necessitated the cancellation of the Disney Half-Marathon.  And I am quite aware that it is worse just about everywhere else.  My 2 mile run was in a blustery 55 degrees.

Honestly, you would think the world ended if you only had the Disney Universe of rabid fans to go by.  Hundreds of upset runners took to the resorts to stage their own 1/2 marathons, running willy nilly throughout the grounds to cheers from the non-runners. Even those prepared to run in silly costumes donned them anyway even though no Disney Characters were there to pose for selfies with them.  The Dopey Challengers were resigned to running 35.5 miles instead of 48.6.

Monumental traffic jams ensued when they announced refunds and the medals were available at the Wide World of Sports Complex.  I really pity the poor volunteer workers there who had to handle the thousands of disgruntled runners blaming them for the acts of a mom otherwise revered by the politically correct crowd.

The only hard part for me is the 16 hour drive home when the Dopey Challengers are done!

This mom of two toddlers wasn't throwing anything but good cheer.  Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Coach Groves Tips His New Hat To All Of Us


Still trapped like a rat in Orlando while the Dopey Challengers continue their quest.  Two races down, two to go!

And Coach Groves was sent a new winter cap by our very own Distinguished Alumnus Bob Hillman from Harvard's Medical School just in time for the cold weather everyone is experiencing now. Except for me!!!!!


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Performance Of The Year 2016 (and Was It My Fault?)


The results of the Performance of the Year Finals went like all of us suspected.  But what a year it was, after all!

Joe Kovacs became the first ever two time winner of the Performance of the Year, as the Olympics dominated the voting.  Joe also won last year for his Shot Put World Championship.  A silver medal in the Olympics is certainly worthy of at least 86% of voters attention.  And two PSU teammates (Joe Kovacs and  Darrell Hill) making the same Olympic team in the same event is worth way more than 42% of voters in my book.

It is also very rare to have an athlete named as Athlete of the Year at the Penn Relays Carnival (Brannon Kidder).  But this year it garnered only 33% of voter's minds!  And there may be only one Penn State Track Alumnus who has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail with his daughter (Blog Muse Rob and Phoebe Whiteside) but that only nabbed 19% of voters.

And I did make it to the Land of the Rat after repairs to the brake lines in one of the two Dopey Challenge team vehicles.  I got here just in time to take a 3 mile run and then watch the beginning of the Rose Bowl before everyone was ready to go to Disney Springs for dinner.  In other words, I watched the first few minutes of the game and saw the Nittany Lions go down 13-0.

Thankfully, the ship was righted as soon as I left and paid no attention to the game while walking to a very, very crowded Disney Springs.  I wistfully remember the days just a few years ago when the then named Downtown Disney was always practically barren.  PSU 49 - USC 22 while I abstained from the game as promised.

But I didn't know that today's games take nearly 5 hours and I made it back to the room in time for the start of the 4th quarter.  Needless to say, USC 17 - PSU 0.  I'm not making that up.  I missed every single Penn State point, but saw complete and total dominance by USC sandwiched around an otherwise a barn burner.

Disney in the AM



Monday, January 2, 2017

Trapped Like a Rat, Again



Looks like I really am trapped this AM.  With a car "in the shop" for repairs, I am stuck in Savannah waiting to leave for Orlando and the land of the rat himself.  Meanwhile, the last hours of the Performance of the Year poll tick by...   (Still a chance to chime in.)

Both conceited Big Ten behemoths folded like cheap suits in the bowl season.  University of Michigan defenders celebrated a sack like drunken New Year's revelers and forgot to pick up the fumble, insuring the one point loss!  And THE Ohio State University forgot to send THE offense to Tempe all-together.  The defense that showed up wasn't the first team either...

Somehow, both will still be smugger than everyone else anyway.  I promise to not watch the Rose Bowl, as that ensures good play by the Lions every time. You can thank me later.

And will the car be fixed in time or not?  The balance of good and evil is unknown!


Eight AM in the Garden of Good and Evil.
 
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