The Penn State track & field program opened up the 2018 Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships with sophomore Michael Biddle (Williamsburg, Pa.) capturing the men’s javelin throw title with a personal-best toss on Friday at the Robert C. Haugh Track & Field Complex.
“Coming into the meet I knew I was the top-seeded thrower, but I needed to get back to what I have been doing,” Biddle said. “I’ve kind of been in a slump lately, but I knew that if I kept doing what Coach MacKay has been saying, I could come out on top.”
In the men’s javelin throw, Biddle captured the gold medal with his toss of 239 feet, 7 inches on his second attempt. During the first round of throws, Biddle took the lead with a mark of 230-8, and then in the second round of throws, Cody Walton of Nebraska took the lead with his tally of 233-7.
“When Walton hit that big throw, it sparked something inside of me,” Biddle said.
On his second attempt, Biddle unleashed a four-foot personal-best toss to take back the lead. With his title on Friday, Biddle is now the ninth Nittany Lion to win the men’s javelin throw at the Big Ten Championships.
Along with Biddle in the men’s javelin throw, junior Matt Nawrocki (Moscow, Pa.) took fifth with a toss of 204-1 and freshman Mark Porter (Reading, Mass.) placed eighth with a mark of 201-0, respectively.
Earlier in the day, Morgan Shigo (Blandon, Pa.) brought home the first medal of the 2018 Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships for Penn State with his third-place finish in the men’s hammer throw.
In the men’s hammer throw, Shigo recorded a toss of 226-6 to garner the bronze medal. Along with Shigo, junior David Lucas (Lititz, Pa.) recorded a season-best toss of 206-1 to place 11th and freshman Luke Grodeska (Neptune, N.J.) tallied the No. 8 throw in program history (200-7) to finish 15th.
Senior Hannah Mulhern (Altoona, Pa.) and freshman Katie Jones (Williamsport, Pa.) tied the PSU school record height in the women’s pole vault (13-6.25) to record podium finishes. For Mulhern, she tied the school record she set earlier this season at the Bison Outdoor Classic, while Jones topped her personal-best of 13-5.75 from the Virginia Challenge. In the standings, Mulhern finished fourth, while Jones took sixth.
Maddie Holmberg (Greensburg, Pa.) used a strong performance in the 200-meter dash to finish day one of the heptathlon in third with a score of 3,463.
Holmberg began the competition with a season-best time of 13.95 in the 100-meter hurdles to tally a score of 985 points. Following the 100-meter hurdles, Holmberg cleared a season-best height of 5-3 in the high jump to score 736 points.
After posting a mark of 43-3.75 in the shot put for 741 points, Holmberg finished out the day with a personal-best time of 23.79 in the 200-meter dash for 1,001 points. Holmberg’s time of 23.79 is the No. 10 200-meter dash time in program history.
The women’s javelin throw saw freshman Madison Smith (New Oxford, Pa.) finish fifth (160-2) and junior Steph Sievers (Douglassville, Pa.) place seventh (153-1), respectively.
On the track, the Nittany Lions competed in seven races, five of which were trials.
Senior Rachael DeCecco (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) advanced to the final of the women’s 400-meter hurdles on Sunday with her personal-best time of 59.42; DeCecco finished eighth in qualifying.
In the men’s 200-meter dash, the Nittany Lion duo of Xavier Smith (Douglassville, Pa.) and Malik Moffett (Erie, Pa.) went 1-2 in the first heat. Smith finished first with his wind-legal personal-best time of 20.70, which improves his No. 7 spot all-time at Penn State, and Moffett placed second with his time of 20.85. Smith and Moffett head into Sunday with the top-two times in the men’s 200-meter dash field.
On the women’s side, Keianna Albury (Eleuthera, Bahamas) ran a season-best time of 23.91 to finish 10th.
The PSU duo of Greta Lindsley (Lancaster, Pa.) and Danae Rivers (Derby, Conn.) moved on to the final of women’s 1,500-meter run on Sunday. Lindsley qualified on time with her performance of 4:23.62 in the third heat to finish fourth. For Rivers, she placed second (4:24.71) in the second heat to qualify automatically.
In the trials of the men’s 1,500-meter run, Colin Abert (Easton, Pa.) finished third (3:48.03) in the first heat to auto qualify to Sunday’s final.
Sophomore Kathryn Munks (Chester, N.Y.) ran to a fifth-place finish in the women’s 10,000-meter run with her time of 34:45.11 and in the men’s 10,000-meter run, senior Timothy McGowan (Northport, N.Y.) placed sixth with his time of 30:39.76 to close out day one of the 2018 Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Day two of the 2018 Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships gets underway at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 12.