The Penn State men’s track and field team stormed its way to win the 2017 Big Ten Championship over the weekend at the Nittany Lion Outdoor Track. With the team’s previous best finish coming in 2001 when it took third, the Nittany Lions scored more than 100 points for the first time on the way to their first-ever Big Ten indoor or outdoor title.
With 117 points, Penn State bested its next closest competitors, the Ohio State Buckeyes, by 14 points.
In just his third season as coach of the Nittany Lions, John Gondak has claimed his second conference title — his first coming just a couple months ago when the women’s team won the indoor Big Ten Championships.
The women’s team wasn’t able to follow up its indoor title and take its first outdoor championship since 2014, but the Nittany Lions made vast improvements from a 10th place finish in 2016 and came in third with 101 points behind Purdue (133) and Minnesota (105.5).
“This has been personally a date I’ve had on the calendar for three years when we first found out we were going to host in 2017 as a goal to host a great championship and have two teams that could contend,” Gondak said. “It’s been a fantastic year. Our women finished second in cross country and won indoors and we finished third today. To be top three during all three seasons is outstanding. Our men were second indoors and first outdoors, so both programs are in a great spot right now and we have some outstanding recruits coming in.”
Penn State continued its domination at the middle distances with four-time Big Ten champion Isaiah Harris and freshman sensation Danae Rivers. Harris cruised to victory at 800m for his second-straight conference title and Penn State’s third consecutive outdoor title at the distance. Rivers came from behind in the final stretch of the 800m to follow up her indoor title at the distance in March. She also finished second at 1500m.
Malik Moffett used a pair of school-record performances to take home two Big Ten titles. The junior transfer from Penn State-Behrend jumped more than 26 feet in the long jump on Saturday before running a wind-aided 19.87 200m on Sunday — the No. 1 all-conditions time in the event for any Penn Stater. He’s the first from Penn State men’s track and field to win two titles in one championship since Casimir Loxsom in 2012.
Dannielle Gibson also won a Big Ten title for the Nittany Lions in the triple jump. The wind aided jump of more than 45 feet is also a school record under all conditions. Gibson’s and Rivers’ titles make them the first Penn State women’s track and field athletes to win outdoor titles since 2014.