Cross country opens 2014 at Dolan Duals

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State men’s and women’s cross country teams kick off the 2014 regular season on Friday at the Dolan Duals. The Dolan Duals are hosted by Lock Haven University at the West Branch Cross Country Course in Lock Haven, Pa. The action begins with the women (4k) at 6 p.m., and the men (6k) run at 6:30 p.m.

Last year at the Dolan Duals, the women’s cross country team won their race with a perfect score of 15 points. On the men’s side, five Penn State runners finished in the top-10 to post a winning score of 22 points. Marta Klebe (Chesterbrook, Pa.) and Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) won their respective races last year.

The women’s squad enters the 2014 season ranked No. 29 in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason poll. At the regional level, the Nittany Lion women are ranked fourth and the men are fifth.

During the 2013 campaign, the women placed fourth at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships, took third at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional and tallied a 25th-place finish at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, which was their fifth-straight appearance at the NCAA meet.

The women return five runners from last year's NCAA squad. The 2014 contingent is led by the senior duo of Leigha Anderson (Carlisle, Pa.) and Katie Rodden (Ardmore, Pa.). Anderson and Rodden were both named All-Region last year in cross country as they finished in the top-25 at the Mid-Atlantic Regional. Anderson claimed 12th (20:21) and Rodden finished 19th (20:42). Anderson and Rodden are also looking towards their third consecutive trip to the NCAA meet.

Juniors Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) and Sarah Jane Underwood (Alexandria, Va.) mixed with sophomore Stephanie Aldrich (West Chester, Pa.) give the Nittany Lions experience up front as they were all on last year's NCAA team.

The men are led by fifth-year senior Matt Fischer (Kennett Square, Pa.), who posted a third-place finish at the 2013 Big Ten Cross Country Championships and qualified for his first trip to the NCAA meet with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional. Fischer ended the 2013 cross country season with a 78th-place finish at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.

The Nittany Lions return home next weekend as they host the annual Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational on Sept. 13.

For more on Nittany Lion cross country, visit www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter .

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