Burkhardt, Fatherly advance to NCAA Championships

May 29, 2015

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- On the opening day of the NCAA East Preliminary Round, a pair of Nittany Lions advanced to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Glen Burkhardt (Kennett Square, Pa.) closed out the day with a heart-stopping performance in the 10,000-meter run, while Rachel Fatherly (Williamsport, Pa.) placed second in the women's shot put.

"I thought today was an excellent day for the Blue and White," head coach and director of Penn State cross country and track & field John Gondak said. "We came in and had student-athletes compete today that we thought were going to move onto the next round or advance to Eugene."

"We got everything done that we anticipated and we got a bonus at the end of the night with Glen Burkhardt running a race that truly defines the heart of a Nittany Lion," Gondak said.

Two weeks ago at the Big Ten Championships, Burkhardt competed in his first-ever 10,000-meter run on the track and posted a fourth-place finish. With a trip to Eugene on the line, Burkhardt recorded a finish he will never forget.

With the top-12 finishers heading to the NCAA Championships, Burkhardt battled near the top-10 throughout the race. His finish though Thursday would be one he would not forget.

"He ran 9,970 meters of that race and was in fifth-place and poised to advance, but due to the heat and humidity collapses, has to crawl across the finish line, but he still finishes eighth and advances to Eugene," Gondak said.

"On the final lap, I heard Coach Gondak say that the top-12 have separated and to relax to keep my pace and I saw the guy in front of me and I didn't want him to pull away, so I stuck with him" Burkhardt said.

Heading down the final homestretch, Burkhardt was ready to post a top-five finish, but with 30 meters to go he tumbled to the ground. Burkhardt, the 2015 Penn State True Grit award winner, picked himself up, took a few steps and stumbled back to the ground and crawled across the finish line for an eighth-place finish (30 minutes, 6.30 seconds).

"At the end I just tired out and I don't know if I got confused looking at the guy next to me but then I decided to pass him, I am not sure why I would do that," Burkhardt said. "Then I started to tumble and when you are that tired you just keep stumbling and then I fell down."

"I was literally on my hands and knees crawling across the finish line."

After tallying a 15th-place finish last year in the shot put at the NCAA East Preliminarily Round, Fatherly advanced to her first NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships meet.

Fatherly, a junior, tallied a mark of 55 feet, 9.75 inches on her third and final attempt en route to a second-place finish. Her mark Thursday is the second-best of her career, only to her school record mark of 56-3.25.

"It is definitely exciting and I am truly thankful," Fatherly said. "Last year, I was heart broken and to comeback to qualify for the NCAA Championships, it felt great."

Also in the women's shot put, freshman Obeng Marfo (Toronto, Ontario, Canada,) made her NCAA East Regional debut and posted a 20th-place finish (50-1.75).

Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) and Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio) both advanced to the quarterfinals in their respective events Thursday.

Creese finished third (4:00.66) in a very tactical 1,500-meter run. With the pace out very slow in the first couple laps, the race came down to who had the best kick.

For the majority of the race, Creese found himself in the back of a tight pack. With two laps to go, the pace picked up and Creese made his way through the close contingent.

With a strong charge down the backstretch on the final lap, Creese made his way from seventh to finishing with an automatic qualifying spot in Saturday's quarterfinals. He will run again Saturday night at 6:45 for a spot in Eugene, Ore.

Kidder advanced to the quarterfinals in the men's 800-meter run, as he won heat two (1:48.53) to secure an automatic berth. He will run at 7:15 p.m. Friday night for a chance to advance to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

The Nittany Lions return to action Friday starting at noon with the women's discus throw (Marfo) and the men's javelin throw (Ryan Kerr and Michael Shuey).

Last Updated May 29, 2015