Posts filed under ‘Athletics’

Calvin Booth Is Heading to Denver

Photo via @PennStateMBB

Former Penn State basketball star Calvin Booth ’98 has accepted a job as the assistant general manager of the Denver Nuggets.

Booth moved into management after his 10-year NBA playing career came to an end in 2009: He has worked in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ front office since 2013, and held the role of director of player personnel for the last two years.

Jon Krawczynski of the AP notes that Booth has “quietly emerged as a respected evaluator of talent,” and that his new role will give Booth a voice in molding one of the league’s brightest young squads—Denver missed the postseason by just one game last year.

Booth appeared in 115 games for the Nittany Lions from 1995-99. He averaged 11.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.7 blocked shots per game for his career, and his 428 career blocks remain the most in Penn State history.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

August 2, 2017 at 4:44 pm Leave a comment

Nittany Lions in the Great War

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Our July/August 2017 issue has a short piece on the Penn State All-Sports Museum’s current exhibit on university athletes who fought in World War I. “Field to Front: Nittany Lions at War, 1917–1919” is a fascinating exhibit of mementos, photos, letters, cards, pins, flags, and other assorted memorabilia from the approximately 210 students who served in the Great War. Of those 210 young men, roughly 75 to 80 were sent overseas, and eight died.

The project was spearheaded by museum director Ken Hickman ’98, who spent the last year and a half researching and collecting the pieces for the exhibit, located in the temporary exhibition space. Hickman’s research process started with a book, Penn State in the World War, which was compiled after the conflict.

The book’s authors surveyed alumni and faculty in the years after the war to put together a collection of bios on all Penn Staters who served. For this project, Hickman and a small staff compiled a list of athletes and proceeded to work backward, tracing their genealogy forward to current living relatives. It was then a process of sending out surveys, contacting people, and trying to flesh out what information they could and couldn’t trust.

The result? “We did much better than I expected,” says Hickman. (more…)

July 12, 2017 at 10:59 am Leave a comment

Isaiah Harris Is Still Learning How Fast He Might Be

Photo via Cardoni

Isaiah Harris is really, really fast. This is kind of obvious: You’d assume that runners who receive Division I track scholarships can run much faster than the average person.

But in Harris’ case, his speed is almost unrivaled. On Jan. 28, 2017, the sophomore star lined up for the 600 meters at the Penn State National Open. Competing next to his friend, professional runner Casimir Loxsom ’13, Harris threw down the second-fastest time in the event ever.

The previous world record for the race, which was set eight days prior, was 1:14:97. Loxsom finished the race in 1:14:91, while Harris ran a 1:14.96. This was all in the plan for the pair, as Loxsom had mentioned to Harris prior to the event that he planned on breaking the record.

Harris had beaten Loxsom a few times in the past, so he had a strategy. He wanted to get on Loxsom’s shoulder, hang there, and try to beat him down the race’s home stretch. That didn’t quite happen, but he came about as close as humanly possible.

This was the latest big moment for Harris during his wildly successful collegiate career so far. The Gatorade Player of the Year for track in his home state of Maine as a high school senior, Harris is a middle-distance runner whose specialty is the 800 meters.

Since joining the Nittany Lions, he is 4-for-4 on Big Ten champions in the 800—he won the indoor and outdoor titles as a freshman and successfully defended his titles as a sophomore. Harris has also made it to the NCAA Championships in the 800 meters twice, coming in fourth in 2016 and second in 2017.

In addition to all of that, Harris nearly topped his freshman year off with a trip to Rio for the 2016 Olympics in the race. The top three made the team, and competing at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, Ore., Harris came in sixth place. Afterward, Penn State track coach John Gondak told Harris that he never had an athlete make it that far.

“Going into it I didn’t have too high of expectations for myself,” Harris says. “Not saying that I was just happy to be there, but I didn’t really know what I was capable of. I kind of just went in and felt I had nothing to lose and just went through the rounds. By the time I made it to the finals, I wasn’t super nervous because I was like ‘No matter how I finish, it’s a pretty big accomplishment making this far, there’s nothing to lose.'”

It’s been a relatively fast ascent for Harris, whose track career began when he was a high school sophomore. He ran when he was in elementary school for fun but decided to give that up to play baseball in middle school.

Photo via Cardoni

During his sophomore year, his godfather bribed him to give up football—the sport he played in the fall—for cross country and track. While he mainly did the former because he enjoyed the success the team had, and because it got him in shape for basketball, the sport he liked the most, Harris’ success on the track happened almost right away.

He made it to the state championship meet in his first year on the team, where he took home first place in the 800 with a time of 1:54:17. For reference, that time would have been good for 18th in the Big Ten this year. Harris did that as a high school sophomore.

Still, while he won a state championship, he didn’t quite know just how impressive that time was. He got a good idea after the meet, though, when he learned he informally got his first scholarship offer.

“The University of Maine coach talked to my high school coach and was like ‘I’ll offer this kid a full scholarship if he wants to come here,'” Harris says. “It was too early for the coaches to talk directly to me and he told my coach that. From that point I was like ‘Oh, I actually might be pretty good.'”

Fast forward a few years and Harris is among the fastest people on the planet. While he plans on getting his degree—an important goal for him, as he’d be the first college graduate in his immediate family—Harris has his sights set on winning an NCAA title in the 800, going pro, and seeing how far running can take him.

Next up is the U.S. Championships in Sacramento, which began on June 22. He made it through the preliminary rounds, coming in 15th with a qualifying time of 1:48:09. Harris will participate in the semifinals on Friday night, and if he makes it through to the finals, will compete on Sunday afternoon for a spot at the World Championships in London.

(Update: Harris officially came in second in the 800 meters with a time of 1:44:53. He will represent the United States in London this August.)

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

June 23, 2017 at 10:44 am 1 comment

Penn State Rugby Is Heading to Philly

Photo via @USASevensCRC

Penn State’s men’s and women’s rugby programs will compete for national titles next month. Both squads are going to Talen Energy Stadium in Philadelphia on June 2-4 for the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby 7s Championships.

The women’s team—which has won three championships at this event and took home its sixth-straight DI college national title earlier this year—will begin pool play on Friday, June 2. Knockout rounds will occur on Saturday, and the finals and consolation games are on Sunday. As for the men’s squad, pool play begins on Saturday and the playoff rounds are a day later.

Pool assignments for the women have not yet been released, while the men have been drawn into a pool with Clemson, Delaware, and the four-time defending CRC winners California.

If you are interested in attending, you can purchase tickets through the program. Additionally, portions of the tournament will be shown on NBC and NBC Sports Network. Head here for the full broadcast schedule.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

May 23, 2017 at 3:50 pm Leave a comment

Emily Frederick Forged Her Own Path to Rio

Photo via Cardoni

If it wasn’t for an error on a GPS, it’s possible that Emily Frederick wouldn’t have found herself in Rio for the Paralympics last fall.

No, so she didn’t drive all the way down to Brazil on accident or anything like that. Frederick, an Alabama native who was born with dwarfism and stands 4-foot-1, needs special pedals to drive. When she was in high school and eager to get her license, her mother drove alone to a facility in Birmingham, Ala., called Lakeshore.

There are two Lakeshores in Birmingham. The one they needed was a rehabilitation center that had those pedal extensions; the other was a training facility for athletes with disabilities. They’re right next door to one another. The GPS brought Frederick’s mom—an assistant high school track coach—to the training facility. She got a tour and realized it was the perfect place for her daughter, who grew up playing sports but had stopped because she struggled to keep up with her teammates.

Initially, Emily wasn’t on board with her mother’s idea. (more…)

April 26, 2017 at 9:25 am 1 comment

For Stephen Nedoroscik, A Moment of Perfection

Penn State gymnastics entered Saturday afternoon with 53 individual National Championships. Thanks to Stephen Nedoroscik’s performance on the pommel horse, the program ended the day with 54.

Nedoroscik, a freshman from Massachusetts, won the NCAA title on the horse with a score of 14.900. He became the fourth freshman in program history to take home an individual title, and is the first Nittany Lion to win a title in this event since 2005.

As Nedoroscik told GoPSUSports, winning a championship is “the best feeling in the world.”

You can watch his performance at the top of this post. Pay special attention to his teammates in the stands over the final 10 seconds or so—they all start standing up because they know Nedoroscik nailed his routine.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

April 25, 2017 at 9:35 am Leave a comment

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