Nittany Lions head to Eugene for NCAA Outdoor Championships

EUGENE, Ore. -- Traveling a record number of competitors, the Nittany Lions will be poised for outstanding finishes against the nation's best competition, this week at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Historic Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. Both Nittany Lion squads are touted for impressive finishes, as the Penn State men's team enters the competition at No. 18 in the latest United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA) rankings, while the women's contingent - the 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Champions - come into the national championships at No. 24.

The Nittany Lions are set to travel a healthy mix of youth and experience to the championships, led by senior and eight-time NCAA qualifier Casimir Loxsom (New Haven, Conn.). Loxsom - a five-time USTFCCCA All-American - will look to close out his Nittany Lion career with a bang, coming off a runner-up finish in the 800 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The senior, who was named "Track Athlete of the Relays" at the prestigious Penn Relays Carnival, has had another season for the record books this spring, clocking 1:46.77 for his signature event at the Mt. SAC Relays in April. Loxsom's season best performance currently ranks third among NCAA competitors. Loxsom will be joined by teammates Ricky West (Toronto, Ontario) and Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio) in the 800, while Robby Creese will also represent Penn State's outstanding middle distance contingent in the 1500 meters.

Also entering the competition in striking position for an NCAA title in sophomore Lauren Kenney (State College, Pa.). Kenney launched a lifetime-best 177-10 (54.02) - the current No. 3 throw in the country - at the NCAA Eastern Preliminary Round. Kenney, who placed fourth at the NCAA Championships a year ago, has been on a roll all season, including individual victories at the Big Ten Championships, as well as the LSU Battle on the Bayou and Alabama Crimson Tide Invitational. By her side will be junior Laura Loht (McClure, Pa.), last year's NCAA bronze medalist in the event. Loht - the 2013 Penn Relays Champion - has also impressed this spring, posting a career-long 169-6 (51.66) at the Eastern Preliminary. Qualifying in the javelin on the men's side is freshman Michael Shuey (Johnsonburg, Pa.), who earned bronze medal honors in the event at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships last month.

About the NCAA Outdoor Championships...
When: June 5-8, 2013
Where: Hayward Field (University of Oregon)
Meet Information: www.GoDucks.com; and www.NCAA.com
Results: www.FlashResults.com

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On Twitter: @PennStateTFXC
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The Nittany Lions will be represented across all event areas at the championships, including standout redshirt-junior Mahagony Jones (Cleveland, Ohio) in the women's 100- and 200-meters. Jones - the Big Ten 100 Champion - has emerged as one of the top sprinters on the East Coast, as well as in the national rankings, putting up wind-legal lifetime lows of 11.33 in the 100, and 23.19 in the 200 at the Eastern Preliminary. Jones, who scored a total of 21 points towards the Nittany Lions' winning effort at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, joins a long line of outstanding sprinters in the Nittany Lion record books, becoming the third Penn State woman to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the 100 and 200, following Shavon Greaves in 2010, and Connie Moore, who accomplished the double four times from 2001 to 2004.

The Nittany Lions look to fare well in the sprints and hurdles overall, as Penn State is set to field 4x400-meter relay squads on both the men's and women's side. Competing individually in the sprints and hurdles will also be hurdle duo Evonne Britton (El Paso, Texas), and Kiah Seymour (Washington, D.C.), who will compete in the 100- and 400-meter hurdles, respectively. Britton - a redshirt-junior - will be making her second-career NCAA appearance in the short hurdles at the NCAA meet, having finished ninth as a sophomore in 2011. Seymour, who is only a freshman, will take on the women's 400 hurdles, coming in with a lifetime best of 58.22.

Also taking on the nation's best in individual events throughout the week will be senior distance standouts Natalie Bower (Pleasant Unity, Pa.), and Sam Masters (Columbia, Mo.). Bower, who is already a four-time NCAA qualifier in cross country, will make her first NCAA appearance on the track in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, while Masters, also an NCAA participant in cross country this fall, will compete in the 5,000 meters.

Junior Melissa Kurzdorfer (Lancaster, N.Y.) has a busy week ahead of her in the throws, qualifying in both the discus and the hammer. Kurzdorfer - a two-time USTFCCCA Second Team All-American in the hammer - is the first Nittany Lion woman to make the NCAA meet in two throwing events since Jennifer Leatherman qualified in the shot put and hammer in 2006.

Action in Eugene is slated to begin on Wednesday morning.  

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Last Updated June 05, 2013