UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Coming off a stellar performance in an outstanding field at the Greater Louisville Classic, the Nittany Lion women's cross country team has vaulted to No. 14 in the latest United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA). This week's position is the highest national ranking since Penn State was tabbed No. 11 in November of 2009, following the Nittany Lions' dramatic victory at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships.
The Nittany Lions held their own against sensational competition last weekend, placing fifth out of 31 schools at Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville, which will also play host to the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships in November.
Pacing the Nittany Lion effort at Louisville was junior duo Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio), and Victoria Perri (Philadelphia, Pa.), who placed 15th and 17th, respectively, with finishing times of 17:10, and 17:13, over the 5,000-meter course. Senior Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio) also picked up a spot in the top 30, placing 26th overall in 17:17.
The trio's effort helped propel the Nittany Lions to stellar results in the national-class field, including seven teams in this last week's USTFCCCA Top 30. Penn State scored 161 points to place fifth overall, just off Michigan State and Arkansas, who both earned a 135-point total to tie for third. Then 12th-ranked Arizona won the women's title, led by an individual victory by Elvin Kibet. Kibet's victory propelled the Wildcats to a 71-point total, which was enough to topple previously top-ranked Washington with 80. The Wildcats are now up to No. 2 in the latest rankings, ahead of Washington in third, and trailing No. 1 Florida State.
Penn State now stands third among Big Ten programs, with Michigan and Michigan State ahead in eighth and 10th, respectively. Minnesota re-enters the rankings this week at No. 27, while Wisconsin, who the Lions topped at Louisville, also appears in the Top 30 at No. 29. The Nittany Lions are ranked second among foes from the Mid-Atlantic Region, with defending national champion Georgetown hanging in the Top 10 at No. 6. Perennial powerhouse Villanova sits behind the Nittany Lions at No. 24.
The Lions will be back in action next weekend, traveling to the Adidas Wisconsin Invitational, hosted by the University of Wisconsin on Oct. 12.