Track & Field Season Preview: Coach MacKay

November 02, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the cross country season winds down, the Penn State track & field team is working hard and preparing themselves for 2019.

One group that hasn't had a chance to compete since last June for the Blue and White is the throwers, and they are ready for the year to get underway.

Assistant coach Lucais MacKay is enthusiastic about his throwers getting back to work and is setting high goals for the group. MacKay has been working with this group for the past three years and is looking forward to another year together with them.

"I'm extremely excited for this year to start. Our upperclassmen in the throws are super talented and being in our third year working together, we feel a little bit more ingrained in what we are trying to accomplish," MacKay said.

This year the team will be welcoming its new freshmen athletes who have already started on their training schedule with the support and guidance of MacKay. He is hoping that some of these incoming freshmen make important contributions early on.

"With the new athletes coming in this year, the freshman class is very talented and are grasping the technical aspects of their throw really well. Training is also coming along for them which makes me excited for a solid November and December," MacKay said.

In the javelin, there are many returning talented athletes. On the men's side, there is senior Matt Nawrocki, junior Michael Biddle, and sophomore Mark Porter. Biddle is the defending Big Ten champion (239-7) and a Second Team All-American hoping to improve his NCAA finish from last year, while Porter was an NCAA qualifier last year.

Senior Steph Sievers, who qualified for the NCAA Championships last year, is one of the team's leaders this season on the women's side and is trying to top her personal record of 162-10, which ranks ninth all-time at PSU.

For both the returners and newcomers, reaching that NCAA finals level is the goal.

"It is really inspiring being able to train with people who competed at the NCAA level. We do have a high level of competition throughout the regular season but the NCAA finals level is just one more step above. It is good to have a lot of the throwers who have experienced that which makes it seem more attainable for the group," MacKay said.

Junior David Lucas, and senior Morgan Shigo make up a significant part of the men's weight and hammer throwers. Lucas won the 2018 national title in the weight throw with a school record and the fourth-best throw in meet history with a toss of 78-9.75. Shigo enters 2019 following his sixth-place finish in the hammer throw at the 2018 NCAA Championships with a school record toss of 237-9.

The women's throws program welcomes four freshmen to Penn State: Ryann BrundagePiper KlingerPayden Montana and Gianna Rao.

Brundage will compete in the javelin, and enters Penn State with a best toss of 142-10. Klinger is a four-time state medalist in the discus throw, Montana won the shot put title at the 2018 Outdoor New Balance National meet and Rao looks to improve her weight throw personal-best of 63-2.

They all have been working closely with MacKay to help gain new knowledge about their throwing techniques.

"Learning how to compete at the college level, there is not a deliberate blue print to it but knowing that each meet and each month has a purpose and trying to build up on those building blocks as they move forward in the season. Trusting the process throughout the season and trusting the coaches is always something our new athletes have to learn," MacKay said.

He is excited to see what his athletes can do this upcoming season and how much of an impact they can have on the team as a whole.

"The goal every year is for every athlete to make it to the last meet of the season and hopefully be within 10% of their personal best," he said. "I look forward to having athletes compete in June."

Last Updated November 02, 2018