Gehret, Foster earn bronze medals at NCAA Indoor Championships

College Station, Texas — Thanks to third-place finishes from senior Ryan Foster (Tasmania, Australia) and freshman Brady Gehret (Altoona, Pa.), as well as a fifth-place showing by the men's 4x400-meter relay - including team members Aaron Nadolsky (Altoona, Pa.), Lionel Williams (Staten Island, N.Y.), Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.) and Gehret - the Nittany Lion men's track and field team tied for 11th-place in the team standings, Saturday, at the NCAA Indoor Championships at Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium. Penn State also enjoyed an All-America effort on the women's side, via a sixth-place finish from the women's 4x400 relay with the Nittany Lion contingent of Doris Anyanwu(Beltsville, Md.), Ijeoma Iheoma (Holland, Pa.), Shavon Greaves (Lakewood, N.J.), and Megan Duncan (North Huntingdon, Pa.).

The Nittany Lion men totaled 16 points to tie for 11th place, just a single point outside of a top 10 finish. Florida won the men's title with 52 points, with Texas A&M following in second with 40 points, and BYU in third with 34. The Nittany Lions were fourth among Big Ten competition, with Indiana and Minnesota tying for sixth overall with 27 points apiece, while Iowa tied for eighth with 20. The finish is the highest by the Nittany Lion men's program since finishing eighth in 1975, and the second-highest indoor effort in the men's record books. On the women's side, the Nittany Lions totaled three points to tie for 45th.

 

Foster cruised through a conservative first half of the men's mile run, before striding to the front of the pack with just under 600-meters to go. Foster's move kick started a furious finish, in which BYU's Miles Batty won the NCAA crown in 3:59.49, followed by Tulsa's Chris O'Hare, who crossed the finish line in 3:59.62. Foster closed in 27.90 seconds for his final 200-meters, taking bronze medal honors in 4:00.17 - the second-fastest mile time of his career. The finish marks the second-career NCAA bronze medal for the senior, who captured third in the 800-meters at last year's NCAA indoor meet. The senior now has a trio of All-America finishes to his credit. Foster is highest finisher in the event in Penn State indoor history, and only the second All-American, along with Steve Balkey, who placed 10th in the event in 1988.

Gehret was next on the track, running a school-record and personal-best 46.22 out of the first of two heats of the 400-meter final, placing third among competitors in his section. Left to wait for the results of the final heat - which included a race-ending fall by event favorite Kirani James of Alabama - Gehret's effort would hold up for third overall, and his first-career All-America finish. Texas A&M's Demetrius Pinder took top honors on his home track, finishing in 45.33, while Georgia's Torrin Lawrence placed second with a finishing time of 45.98. Gehret's finish was also an historic one in the Penn State record books, as the freshman is the first All-America in the 400-meters since the NCAA moved to the metric distance in 1984. Prior to that, the last Nittany Lion to finish in All-America standing in the 440-yards was Mike Sands in 1976.

The women's 4x400 earned the fourth indoor All-America finish in the last five years, thanks to a heat-winning 3:34.00 - a season best effort, which also ties for the second-fastest indoor time in school history. Anyanwu popped off the effort with a split of 54.68, handing off to Iheoma, who blitzed to an impressive 52.62 for her leg. Greaves than got the stick around in 52.46 to bring the Nittany Lions even with the Florida Gators on the final exchange. Duncan than passed the SEC foe on the first turn, and fending off a furious charge of opponents Florida and Central Florida going to the bell lap, running away from the field down the home stretch to split 54.25. Since 2007, the Nittany Lions now own third, fourth, fifth, and sixth-place finishes in the event. Individually, Greaves now has eight All-America finishes on her resume, while Anyanwu earns her second honor, and Iheoma and Duncan both become All-Americans for the first time.

The men's 4x400 was just as successful, winning their heat in 3:07.50 - good for fifth overall, and the first All-America effort in the 4x400-meters in school history. The Nittany Lions earned fourth place in 1975, when the event was run as a "mile" relay, as opposed the current 1600-meter format. Nadolsky opened the Nittany Lion effort with a split of 48.09, followed by Williams - a senior - who split 47.98. The stick then went to Loxsom, who sprinted to a stellar readout of 45.42 - the third-fastest of the day - before Gehret anchored with a split of 46.03, to pass George Mason down the homestretch. The All-America effort is the first for both Loxsom, and Nadolsky, while Williams and Gehret now have two NCAA citations apiece.

The NCAA Indoor Championships concludes the 2011 indoor campaign, with the Nittany Lions now ready to head outside and open up the outdoor season, which is set to start with the Stanford Invitational on March 25-26, in Palo Alto, Calif. 

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Last Updated March 18, 2011