Final Day Yields More NCAA Qualifiers
Track and field to send a total of 16 athletes to NCAA Outdoor Championships
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.: May 26, 2012 – The men’s 4x400-meter quartet of Aaron Nadolsky (Altoona, Pa.), Brandon Bennett-Green (Elkins’ Park, Pa.), Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.) and Brady Gehret (Altoona, Pa.) blitzed to a school-record 3:03.57, on their way to an NCAA-qualifying performance during the final day of action at the NCAA Eastern Preliminary, Saturday, at the University of North Florida. Also moving on to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, via qualifying performances on Saturday are throws standouts Joe Kovacs (Nazareth, Pa.) in the men’s shot put, and Melissa Kurzdorfer (Lancaster, N.Y.) in the women’s hammer throw, as well as the women’s 4x400 squad of Doris Anyanwu (Beltsville, Md.), Dynasty McGee (Ypsilanti, Mich.), Ijeoma Iheoma (Holland, Pa.) and Kirsten Nieuwendam (Parimaribo, Suriname).
The Nittany Lions, who finished second in the event at the NCAA Indoor Championships, continued to rewrite the Penn State record books in the 4x400, combining to run 3:03.57 – the second-fastest time of the evening. With the effort, the foursome bettered the previous school record of 3:04.78, which the Nittany Lions clocked twice this spring. Gehret, who qualified for the NCAA Championships in the open 400-meters yesterday, clocked the top split on the anchor, bringing the stick around in 44.36, officially, to put the Nittany Lions second behind LSU in 3:03.20.
The Lions were among a slew of impressive finishes in the event, which saw four squads dip under 3:04, as well as another pair under 3:05. Florida finished third overall in 3:03.64, with George Mason following in 3:03.82.
The women’s 4x400 matched the men’s qualifying effort, advancing to Des Moines via a finishing time of 3:36.64. Iheoma and Nieuwendam both ran solid splits on the third and fourth legs, with Iheoma going 53.53 on the third leg, and Nieuwendam anchoring in 53.62, to bring the Lions across as the fourth-place team in their qualifying section.
Also running away with the competition was Kovacs, who recorded a toss of 65-4 (19.91) to easily earn one of the top 12 qualifying positions in the men’s shot put. Kovacs’ performance, which guarantees his third-straight appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, tied Auburn’s Stephen Saenz for the top mark of the day. The senior, who leads the NCAA in the event with a PR 68-5 (20.85), placed third in Des Moines in 2011. Teammate Logan Caldwell (Ebensburg, Pa.) came within inches of a trip to the Championships, placing 16th overall with a toss of 59-1.25 (18.01).
Kurzdorfer would post a personal-best effort to advance in the hammer, putting up a performance of 207-10 (63.35) to end up second overall on the afternoon. Starting off slow out of the gate, Kurzdorfer advanced to the event final, and punched her PR on her fifth attempt. The sophomore will be making her second-straight trip to the NCAA Finals in the event, having finished 12th a year ago.
Coming up just shy of qualifying efforts were senior Tanaya Lloyd (Philadelphia, Pa.) and sophomore Marlene Ricketts (Westbury, N.Y.), who placed 14th and 15th, respectively, in the women’s triple jump. Lloyd recorded a near-PR and wind-legal effort of 42-1.25 (12.83), while Ricketts posted a leap of 41-10.50 (12.77), both coming within inches of one of the 12 NCAA Championship bids.
The Nittany Lions suffered several near misses throughout the afternoon, with Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio), and Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) ending their seasons in the 1500-meters. Simko, who already advanced to the NCAA Finals in the 800-meters, placed 21st overall in the quarterfinal round, while Creese finished 17th on the afternoon in 3:49.07.
The Nittany Lions will now move on to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, set for June 6-9, at Drake University. For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log on to www.GoPSUsports.com.
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