UNIVERSITY PARK — Bolstered by 18 victories on Saturday afternoon, the Nittany Lion track and field squads got the 2013 season off to a stellar start at the Penn State Relays.
Among the list of top-notch performances were school-record efforts in both the mens and womens 4x200-meter relays, along with meet-record showings by Jane Swenson in the womens shot put, and Victoria Gerlach in the womens mile.
Actually it went really well, coach Beth Alford-Sullivan said of the teams performances. Being so early, we didnt have a lot of expectations for this meet. The purpose of this one is to shake off the rust, and get started, but really just to get out there and compete. And I really liked the competition level of the team today. For the most part, we really had a great opener.
The Nittany Lion foursome of Mahagony Jones, Kirsten Nieuwendam, Doris Anyanwu and Kiah Seymour got the ball rolling in the relays, combining to run 1:37.25 in the 4x200 to better the previous facility, meet, and school record of 1:37.76 set in 2006.
Following up with the second school-record performance of the day was the mens contingent of senior Emunael Mpanduki, Brandon Bennett-Green, Aaron Nadolsky, and Matt Gilmore. The relay ran away from the field with a finishing time of 1:25.52, to upend the prior Penn State record of 1:26.24 from 2005. In fact, the squads 1:25.52 is the fourth-fastest effort in collegiate history.
Penn State had a productive day in the sprints overall, with both the mens and womens 4x400-meter relays picking up event titles, beginning with Anyanwu, Jones, Nieuwendam, and Seymour, who took top honors in the womens race in 3:41.18. Nadolsky, Gilmore, and Bennett-Green along with senior Casimir Loxsom on the third leg nabbed the victory in the mens competition, finishing in 3:09.97.
Swenson led the Nittany Lion effort in the throws, bettering her own meet record in the shot put, thanks to a personal indoor-best toss of 49 feet, 7 1/4 inches. The senior led a bang-up effort by the Nittany Lions in the event, with Melissa Kurzdorfer, and Rachel Fatherly following in second and third, respectively. Kurzdorfer would also pick up a win, taking the womens 20-pound weight throw with a season-best 60-5 3/4. The same Penn State trio covered the top three spots in the weight, with Swenson second and Fatherly third.
The Nittany Lions also topped both throwing events on the mens side, with Nabil Mubarak leading the way in the 30-pound weight throw with an effort of 60-11 1/2. Mubarak would also take second in the shot put, behind newcomer Darrell Hill, who posted a toss of 53-11 1/4 to earn a victory in his first Penn State appearance.
Penn State produced a bevy of winning efforts across the field events, including victories from both Jon Hendershot and Erika Morgan in the mens and womens high jump, respectively. Hendershot topped out at 7-0 1/2 an indoor personal record to win the mens competition, while Morgan soared over 5-10 1/2 a lifetime best, as well as third-best clearance in the Penn State record books.
Elsewhere in the jumps, Marlene Ricketts powered to a victory in the triple jump at 41-9 1/4. Sophomore Brian Leap took top honors in the mens triple jump, going 48-2 1/2. The Lions also turned in event titles in both the mens and womens pole vault, with Patrick Anderson finishing first on the mens side, and fellow rookie Kasey Kemp winning the womens competition.
In the distances, Gerlach showed well in her first Penn State indoor appearance, winning the mile run in a meet-record 5:02.92. Adding another Nittany Lion victory individually was junior Kalyn Fisher, who won the womens 1,000 meters in 3:10.26.
The Nittany Lions picked up a win in the womens 4x800-meter relay, with Colleen Shannon, Sarah Jane Underwood, Audrey Houghton and Marta Klebe putting together an effort of 9:05.13. Also turning in a relay win was the mens distance medley relay team of Robby Creese, Mpanduki, Brannon Kidder and Mark Fuller. The squad ran 9:53.87 to take top honors.
Penn State will host the Nittany Lion Challenge next weekend.