Eight Nittany Lion track and field athletes earn All-America honors

NEW ORLEANS -- A total of eight Nittany Lions have officially garnered United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches' Association First Team All-America status, announced by USTFCCCA on Tuesday. The Penn State track and field contingent is coming off a stellar weekend of results at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, where both Nittany Lions squads earned top 30 finishes in the team standings, led by a 21st-place effort from the men's team.

The Nittany Lions were paced by a pair of fourth-place finishes, including outstanding efforts from senior Joe Kovacs (Nazareth, Pa.) and the men's 400-meter relay squad of Aaron Nadolsky (Altoona, Pa.), Brandon Bennett-Green (Elkins Park, Pa.), Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.), and Brady Gehret (Altoona, Pa.).

Kovacs, who earned Big Ten Field Athlete of the Year honors during the outdoor season, nabbed his third-career All-America citation in the effort, taking fourth in the men's shot put with a toss of 64-3 (19.58).

The men's 4x400 was highly impressive throughout the weekend, starting off with a school-record 3:01.52 in the preliminary rounds - which currently ranks as a top 10 time in the world this year, according to the IAAF. The same foursome would come back to run 3:01.58 to finish fourth in a sizzling fast final, which saw five teams run under 3:02. The team is also the first Nittany Lion men's relay to earn All-America honors in the event.

Gehret, who was making his first appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, would also earn All-America status individually, placing sixth overall in the open 400-meters with a finishing time of 45.44.

The underclassman duo of sophomore Laura Loht (McClure, Pa.) and freshman Lauren Kenney (State College, Pa.) led the way on the women's side, thanks to a three-four finish in the javelin. Loht, who was a Second Team All-American a year ago, placed third overall with a PR toss of 169-04 (51.62), while Kenney followed in fourth with a distance of 167-10 (51.17) - also a personal best.

Another contingent of Nittany Lions would be named to the Second Team All-America squad via top 16 finishes in their respective events. Loxsom and sophomore Bekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio) would both garner the honor in the 800-meters, with Loxsom placing 11th overall in the men's event, and Simko taking 15th in the women's race thanks to a PR of 2:05.13. Also copping Second Team status on the track was the 13th-place women's 4x400 squad of Doris Anyanwu (Beltsville, Md.), Ijeoma Iheoma (Holland, Pa.), Kirsten Nieuwendam (Parimaribo, Suriname) and Dynasty McGee (Ypsilanti, Mich.).

Earning a Second Team citation in the field, was sophomore Melissa Kurzdorfer (Lancaster, N.Y.), who placed 12th in the women's hammer throw. Teammate William Barr (Urbana, Ohio) rounded out the honors for the Nittany Lions, picking up Honorable Mention All-America honors in the men's discus.

The Nittany Lions continue their campaign this weekend, traveling a small squad to the USATF Junior Championships in Bloomington, Ind. Competition is set for June 15-17, at Indiana University.

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Last Updated June 19, 2012