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Penn State Women’s Track & Field Hopes To Defend Big Ten Indoor Title

The Penn State women’s track and field team heads to this weekend’s Big Ten Indoor Championships as the defending title holder. Last year the women took the crown in an extremely tight competition, finishing the weekend with a score of 96.5, just 2.5 points over Purdue, who finished second.

The Nittany Lions will have a tough competition on their hands through the duration of the weekend. With a handful of teams in the mix to take the title this year, every point will be critical as the team relies on a new group of leaders to rack up points after losing a strong group of seniors.

One of those leaders will be junior Keianna Albury. Albury leads the rankings in the 60 meters and comes in at No. 9 in the 200 meter. Albury finished third in the 60 and fourth in the 200 at these championships last year to post critical points towards the title.

In the 60 meter hurdles, Penn State senior Quenee Dale enters the weekend just hundredths of a second behind the conference leader as she falls in the third position. This race will be one to watch as the top five competitors all post season-best times within a tenth of a second.

The mid-distance events are led by a host of underclassmen. Freshman Victoria Tachinski will compete in her first conference championship as she heads in to the weekend at No. 6 in the 600 meter.

Danae Rivers is only a sophomore, but has made quite a name for herself on the national scene. During her breakthrough freshman year, Rivers captured the 800 meter title during the indoor championship and finished third outdoors. Rivers hopes to earn back her crown as she goes into the weekend with the fastest time in the field and the second fastest time in the nation.

Rivers’ dominance doesn’t stop at the 800 meter, however. The sophomore also ranks second in the mile, sandwiched between Michigan athletes that rank 1-3-4. Senior Greta Linsley will hope to continue her strong season as she heads in to the weekend not far behind in the No. 7 position.

The cross country women will put their strength to good use over the weekend in the longer distances. Since these distances can be grueling on the body, many athletes don’t race them until championship weekend when competition starts to heat up.

Jillian Hunsberger is coming off of a very strong cross country season where she continuously led the team. Hunsberger has only raced the 5,000 meter once this season as she heads in to the weekend ranked fifth in the conference. Not too far behind her is fellow junior Tessa Barrett, ranking tenth, who has the chance to improve upon her previous performance in order to score.

In the field events, senior Megan McCloskey will compete in the high jump as she goes into the weekend ranked tied for third with several other athletes. The pole vault is another event where the Nittany Lions have the opportunity to gain some critical points. Senior Hannah Mulhern leads freshman Katie Jones as they fall No. 4 and No. 5 in the rankings, respectively. Mulhern will attempt to improve upon her fifth place finish from last year.

Freshman Kelsey Vieira hopes for points in the triple jump, as she heads in the weekend in the fifth position. Lastly, sophomore Madeline Holmberg will contend for the Big Ten title in the pentathlon. Holmberg’s score of 4,133 points in the event is currently No. 10 in the NCAA.

Penn State has yet to run its best relay teams in both the 4×400 meter relay and the distance medley relay, as they fall quite low on both rankings. These are always highly anticipated events and it’s likely the Nittany Lions will put together their best group of women to compete over the weekend. Both of these teams will try squeeze out some additional points toward the championship.

About the Author

Janelle Rothacker

Currently a junior studying Kinesiology, Janelle is proud to call upstate NY (the real part, not the 30 minutes north of the city part) home. She's an avid runner and enjoys everything and anything sports. She also has a love of pancakes, avoids the HUB like the plague during the in between classes rush, and can quote the majority of Friends episodes from memory. If you want to hear all the embarrassing things she does daily, or want to contact her, follow her on twitter at @janellerothack or email her at [email protected]

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