The first word that popped into my head when I considered Penn State for my college education was football, not school (much to my parents dismay). How could it not have been football? Happy Valley is an epicenter of pigskin tradition with a town that transforms into the third largest city in Pennsylvania every Saturday in the fall. It is a place where 110,000 people throw all of their support behind a team of 11 young men in plain uniforms and their coach who turned a simple football program into an empire. Rich in winning tradition, Penn State University (in my mostly biased opinion) is the college football capitol of the world.
I’m just as American as the next guy; I love football. But I am obsessed with track and field. I love it all: the track, the cross country course, and the 26.2 mile road that is the marathon. I understand it is uncharacteristic, and I don’t care.
Two years ago, I convinced my dad to take me to New York City for the one intention of watching American Ryan Hall run the New York City Marathon. I spent $30 last spring to go watch Usain Bolt of Jamaica (100m and 200m world record holder) run at The Penn Relays in Philadelphia. I consume running media for an average of 4 million hours a week, as my college roommate could certainly attest to.
Why do I love track? I love it because it’s so simple. How fast can you run? How high can you jump? How far can you throw? Yet beneath this simplicity lies one of the most complex and highly skilled sports in the world. What people don’t see on NBC in August every 4 years is the dedication, hard work, failures, and triumphs of the athletes that make track the sport that it is.
Surprising as it may sound, I am not the only person who cares about track and field and/or distance running in this fashion.
The coverage that high school, collegiate, and professional running is getting in the media has started to increase over the past few years. In a time like this for the sport, what better place to be than Penn State? Just last season the Nittany Lions sent 14 individuals to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Under the leadership of Head Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan, Penn State has been producing great athletes and even greater performances as of late (Ryan Foster’s 3:58 mile last season instantly comes to my mind). The Nittany Lions are quickly becoming an East Coast powerhouse for cross country and track, and do not show any signs of letting up.
I am excited to be the newest member of the Nittany Lions Den team. Join me as I bring unique insight and coverage of the cross country and track and field programs at Penn State along with other programs in the Big Ten Conference and across the country. So lace up your spikes and run with me!