Track & field: Loht finishes fifth at U.S. national meet, several Penn State athletes advance

Several current and former Penn State athletes advanced to semifinals or finals after the first full day of competition at the U.S. Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium on Thursday, while Nittany Lion Laura Loht had a big evening as well.

In the finals of the women’s javelin, Loht finished fifth overall and was the highest placing collegiate athlete with a top throw of 177 feet, 8 inches. The personal-best result came on the heels of a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships earlier this month.

State College’s Lauren Kenney did not have as good of a day, finishing 13th out of 13 competitors at 156-9, more than 20 feet below her personal best.

In the first round of the men’s 800 meters, current Nittany Lion Brannon Kidder posted the third-best time in his heat and overall with a clocking of a personal-best 1:46.87. Meanwhile, recent graduate Casimir Loxsom was second in his heat and 19th overall in 1:49.17 to join Kidder in Friday’s semifinals.

Former Nittany Lion and 2012 U.S. Olympian Bridget Franek won her preliminary heat in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:57.96 to advance to Saturday afternoon’s finals. Eight runners broke the 10-minute mark and 14 runners advanced to the finals.

One Nittany Lion not so fortunate was Robby Creese, who was 23rd in the 1,500 meters in 3:47.29 and did not advance to the finals.

Later Thursday in the women’s 10,000-meter finals, former Penn State standout Kara (Millhouse) Foster finished 18th in 35:08.14. State College coach Rebecca Donaghue was listed in the starting list did not run in the race.

In the junior competition, Rachel Fatherly finished fifth in the hammer throw with a top mark of 178-3. She fouled on four of her six attempts but still managed to get a solid throw. She also fouled on all three of her attempts in the shot put and did not place.

The athletes are trying to qualify for the World Championships, which will be held in Moscow from Aug. 10-18.