Rivers crowned national champion; Six earn All-American status

March 15, 2019

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Danae Rivers made history on the final day of the NCAA Indoor Championships on Saturday (March 9). Rivers became the first women's indoor track and field individual champion in program history by winning the 800m race. Including Rivers, the Penn State track and field programs had five athletes competing on the second day of competition during the NCAA Indoor Championships. The Penn State women's program finished 11th in the country after the two days of competition.

Rivers qualified for the 800m final on Friday with a time of 2:06.15. Rivers is no stranger to the NCAA Indoor Championship stage, appearing in the Distance Medley Relay and mile finals in 2017 and the 800m final in 2018.

The Nittany Lion All-American rewrote the Penn State history books with her performance in the 800m final on Saturday.

Rivers remained in the middle of the pack throughout most of the race. On the final straightaway, Rivers overtook her opponents and won the 800m final by .05 seconds.  Rivers clocked in with a final time of 2:03.69 and gave the Nittany Lions their first women's indoor track & field individual champion in program history.

Rivers placed 7th in last year's 800m final. Prior to Rivers, Briene Simmons was the highest finisher in the 800m indoor finals in 2007. Simmons also placed 7th in the event.  

"Danae worked very hard this season. It was a tough decision choosing between the 800 and mile as she qualified for the Indoor Championships in both events. She was very confident in her decision to run the 800 meters. She showed she wanted to win, and it was a great win for our program and for Penn State," head coach John Gondak said.

David Lucas and Morgan Shigo were the first two Nittany Lions to compete on Saturday, both competing in the men's weight throw. Morgan Shigo earned All-American status by placing fifth in the weight throw, finishing with a best throw of 22.40m (73-6).  

Shigo was joined by David Lucas on the medal stand as Lucas finished eighth in the men's weight throw. Lucas' top throw measured 21.74m (71-4).

"I was very proud of how Morgan and David competed. To have both of them in the event at the national championships is outstanding. It was a great cap to Morgan's senior year and all the hard work he has put in to earn his All-American award. I know David will be hungry to come back next year ready to compete for his third All-American award," Gondak said.

Alexis Holmes kept the Nittany Lions on the podium with her finish in the women's 400m final. The freshman clocked a 52.37 in the second heat of the 400m final. This time was good for fourth as Holmes earned her first, first team All-American status.  

"She (Alexis) had an amazing freshman indoor season. To win a Big Ten championship and to back that up with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships, that was amazing. We look for exciting things from Alexis as we move to the outdoor season." Gondak added.

Domenic Perretta was the final Nittany Lion to compete on Saturday in the 800m men's final. Perratta placed ninth with a time of 1:48.81. This finish gave Perratta the distinction as a second team All-American.

"I was excited for Dom to get the experience and to compete for an indoor title.  I look for him to build on his Big Ten championship as we move to the outdoor season," Gondak stated about Perretta's performance.

Including Maddie Holmberg's ninth place finish in the pentathlon on Friday, the Nittany Lions had all six competitors finish in the top-10 in the country. Penn State had four athletes earn first team All-American recognition and two earn second team All-American status.

"I was very excited for the women's indoor program to finish as a top-11 team in the country and am proud of the team as a whole.  To finish with all six athletes in the top-10 in the country, that is a tremendous achievement for our program," Gondak added on his team's finish.

Along with 11th place national finish, the women's indoor program finished second out of the Big Ten schools competing at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The men's indoor program finished fifth out of all Big Ten schools competing at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Last Updated March 15, 2019