Big Ten Championships on the horizon for cross country teams

October 30, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State men's and women's cross country teams are heading to Iowa City, Iowa, for the 2014 Big Ten Cross Country Championships this Sunday (Nov. 2). This will be the final competition for the Nittany Lions before the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on Nov. 14.

The Meet
The 2014 Big Ten Cross Country Championships are hosted by the University of Iowa at the Ashton Cross Country Course in Iowa City, Iowa. The women's 6,000-meter run starts at 10:45 a.m. CDT, followed by the men's 8,000-meter run at 11:45 a.m. CDT.

The Penn State women are competing against five ranked teams, including No. 1 Michigan State. In addition to No. 1 Michigan State, No. 4 Michigan, No. 8 Wisconsin, No. 19 Ohio State and No. 20 Minnesota make up the ranked teams competing in the women's race. The Penn State women already tallied a win over No. 19 Ohio State earlier this year (Notre Dame Invite).

On the men's side, four teams enter the competition ranked. Along with No. 6 Wisconsin, Michigan (14), Indiana (20) and Michigan State (22) head into the weekend ranked. Minnesota and Penn State are both receiving votes.

Last Time Out
Freshman Elizabeth Chikotas (Hellertown, Pa.) ran to an eighth-place finish to lead the Nittany Lion women to a 10th-place finish and Glen Burkhardt (Kennett Square, Pa.) posted a 36th-place finish to pace the Nittany Lion men as they tied for eighth-place Saturday, Oct. 18, at the Pre-National Invitational at the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind.

The women's 6k Blue race featured four of the top-eight teams in the country and the men's 8k Blue race featured the top-two teams in the land along with six other ranked teams.

In a deep field with some of the nation's best female cross country runners, Chikotas was able hang tough and battle to an eighth-place finish with her time of 21 minutes, 00.9 seconds. Chikotas was near the top-10 during the majority of the race, as she was 14th (10:18.3) at the 3k split and 12th (13:50.2) at the 4k split. In the men's 8,000-meter run, Burkhardt paced the Nittany Lion men as he completed the course in 24:53.2 to finish 36th. Burkhardt was in 50th (6:01.6) at the 2k split and heading into the final 3k of the course he was in 41st (15:33.2).

As a team, the Penn State women finished 10th with their score of 405 points, while No. 4 Georgetown won the 6k Blue race with their score of 110 points. The Penn State women defeated Northern Arizona (11th) and Butler (29th), both of which were receiving votes in the latest national coaches' poll.

In the men's race, Penn State tied for eighth with their score of 363 points. No. 1 Colorado cruised to the team title with their score of 35 points.

Last Year at the Big Ten Championships
Junior Matt Fischer (Kennett Square, Pa.) set a new Penn State standard at the 2013 Big Ten championships with a third-place finish at Purdue's Boilermaker Cross Country Course Sunday morning. Fischer led the Nittany Lion men to a ninth-place finish, while the women's squad placed fourth.

A Kennett Square, Pa., native, Fischer bested former Nittany Lion Kyle Dawson's fourth-place outing at the 2008 Big Ten Men's Cross Country Championship. The junior crossed the finish Sunday in 24:19.7, less than three seconds behind the meet's individual champion.

The men's contingent secured 209 points in the 8,000-meter race, while Indiana claimed the conference crown with 51 points.

A quartet of Nittany Lions claimed top-30 finishes as the women's squad finished fourth among the 12-team field. Senior Marta Klebe (Chesterbrook, Pa.) paced the team with a 16th-place effort (21:27.3), while junior Katie Rodden (Ardmore, Pa.) crossed the finish line in 21:39.5, good for 22nd place. In the 6,000-meter race, Penn State finished in fourth place with 143 points. Michigan State captured the title with 43 points.

The Penn State men's and women's cross country teams enter this weekend with both teams receiving votes in their respective national coaches' polls. The men are ranked fourth in the Mid-Atlantic Region, while the women are fifth.

The Penn State women's cross country team tallied a 25th-place finish at the 2013 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, which was their fifth-straight appearance at the NCAA meet.

Fifth-Year Fischer
The men are led by fifth-year senior Fischer, who posted a third-place finish at the 2013 Big Ten Cross Country Championships and qualified for his first trip to the NCAA meet with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional. Fischer ended the 2013 cross country season with a 78th-place finish at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.

B1G Honors
After finishing third at the Penn State National, sophomore Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio) was named the Big Ten Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Week on Oct. 14.

Kidder tallied a third-place finish with his time of 26:46 to lead the Nittany Lion men to a team title at the Penn State National (Oct. 11). Kidder's time of 26:46 is a season-best for him at the 5.2-mile Blue-White Golf Course.

Coming off his third-consecutive Dolan Duals title, Creese was named the Big Ten Men's Cross Country Athlete of Week, as announced by the league office on Sept. 9. Creese opened the 2014 season as he won his third Dolan Duals title with a final time of 17:49.48 as he led the Nittany Lions to a first-place finish at the season-opening meet in Lock Haven, Pa. Creese's 6k time from the Dolan Duals was the fastest in the Big Ten over the weekend. This is the second career award for Creese; he won the award in 2012 after winning the Dolan Duals.

Looking Ahead
The Nittany Lions do not compete next weekend as they prepare for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional (Nov. 14). Penn State is hosting the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional at the Blue-White Golf Course in University Park, Pa. The women's 6k is set for noon and the men's 10k is slated for a 1 p.m. start.

Last Updated October 30, 2014