UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State National Open is one of the biggest indoor meets in the country year in and year out, today's finish to the 2017 Penn State National Open left no doubt in anyone's mind that it definitely was the place to be Saturday afternoon.
2013 Penn State alumnus Casimir Loxsom, of Brook Running, returned to the campus where it all started and the track that he was all too familiar with.
Loxsom led a loaded heat of the 600-meters that included Penn State sophomore Isaiah Harris in what quickly became the race heard round the world.
Loxsom, who led from beginning to end, set the tone early pushing the pace from the gun. Harris stayed within reach and began to close as the race came down to its final meters before crossing the line and instantly turning to look at the board where the results displayed the No. 1 and No. 2 times in the world in the event as Loxsom and Harris ran times of 1:14.91 and 1:14.96, respectively.
"I've wanted to come back and race here from the time I left campus," said Loxsom.
"This is one of my favorite tracks in the world to compete at," Loxsom continued. The crowd was amazing, with so many old friends and Nittany Lion family. Isaiah (Harris) is an incredible athlete and I was thankful to have him in the race to push me. He's a rare talent and it was fitting to showcase the past alongside the future of a program I was so proud to be a part of."
Loxsom set a world record in the race while Harris' time will stand as the indoor world junior record and an indoor world junior collegiate record for the sophomore from Lewiston, Maine.
""We talked a lot, like we texted, talked on Twitter and stuff like that. We kept in contact, so he's like a friend now. It's pretty cool," said Harris. "We were at Oregon at the trials and he had dinner with us a few times and hung out with me and (Penn State alum Brannon) Kidder. It's cool having someone who can push you and be competitive with, but you're also friends with at the same time."
"I think it's a big confidence boost for what I can do in the future," said Harris.
"It's really going to help me in the 800-meters. When we go out fast in the 800-meters, the first 600-meters I'm going to feel more comfortable knowing that I can run faster than that. It's going to help me overall and hopefully it can lead to a faster 800-meter."
Also setting a school record on the final day was Tessa Barrett who raced her way into the record books with her performance in the 3,000-meters.
Barrett's time of 9:07.22 erased the eight year old record of Bridget Franek, a 2012 USA Olympian who was in attendance for the performance, and is currently the No. 1 time in the NCAA this season.
"I'm so glad I had Tori (Gerlach) to help push me along," said Barrett.
"It was really cool because the school record holder, Bridget Franek, was here today, so that was really cool, I didn't even know she was here before the race," Barrett continued. "I think it was a good benchmark just to know that I could run that time. I think moving forward, just keep the ball rolling. It's amazing having teammates like Danae (Rivers) and Isaiah (Harris) and seeing them run amazing, it's just inspiring me to do more. I think we got a lot of energy right now so definitely just keep moving forward."
As mentioned also in the race with Barrett was Gerlach, who only has outdoor eligibility, finishing right behind Barrett with her time of 9:10.09 - a new personal best.
Freshman Kathryn Munks also was in the heat recording a time of 9:39.90.
Fellow freshman Danae Rivers, who broke two school records on her previous individual races, made it three-for-three as she claimed yet another Penn State indoor school record this time in the mile run.
Rivers ran away with the event title winning her race by over four full seconds with her time of 4:34.87 erasing Tori Gerlach record of 4:37.82 that was set just last season.
Rivers time is the No. 1 time in the NCAA this season just ahead of New Hampshire's Elinor Purrier who ran 3:34.98 earlier in the day.
Penn State had several athletes take home event titles on the final day including Keianna Albury in the 200-meters running 24.16 - a new PR, Malik Moffett in the 200-meters with his winning time of 21.06, Domenic Perretta in the 800-meters running 1:50.33, Timothy McGowan in the 3,000-meters with his time of 8:11.92, Dannielle Gibson in the women's triple jump recording a mark of 43'-1.50" (13.14m), Bryce Williams in the triple jump at (15.28m), Alyssa Robinson in the women's shot put at 53'-5.75" (16.30m) and Jon Yohman in the men's shot put with his mark of 61'-0" (18.59m).
The 200-meters, won by Moffett, saw Penn State go 1-2-3 with Xavier Smith (21.26) and Dan Chisena (21.48) rounding out the sweep while in the women's shot put it was the tandem of Alyssa Robinson and Obeng Marfo combining for the 1-2 finish with Obeng recording a mark of 50'-4.75" (15.36m).
The meet was closed out by a pair of 4x400-meter relays leading the way for Penn State; the men's relay of Chisena, Mathis, Reiser, Harris combined to run 3:11.22, while the women's relay of Deja Davis, Kiara Lester, Frances Bull, Danae Rivers carried the baton to the tune of 3:41.41 a team best at the meet.
ATHLETES WITH COLLEGIATE INDOOR PERSONAL BEST MARKS
- Tyreek Mathis - 48.27
- Lamont Higgins - 49.08
- Rachel Banks - 2:52.34
- Danae Rivers - 4:34.87
- Jillian Hunsberger - 4:57.37
- Noemie Noullet - 5:01.20
- Natasha Fedkina - 5:05.75
- Brandon Tubby - 8:27.67
- Tessa Barrett - 9:07.22
- Tori Gerlach - 9:10.09
- Kathryn Munks - 9:39.90
- Lisa Bennatan - 9:52.21
- Cara Ulizio - 10:11.01
- Hannah Catalano - 10:35.91
- Megan Fry - 13'-0.75" (3.98m)
- Kobren Frederick - 48'-7.5" (14.82m)
- Darian Alston - 47'-1.5" (14.36m) - Tied PR
- Olivia Giambria - 36'-9.5" (11.21m)