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Rules of the Game

Men’s outdoor track and field consists of running, jumping, and throwing events. There are over 40 such events, and different conferences and tournaments hold competitions for only a portion of these. With the switch to the metric system, many races measured in yards have been discontinued, as have other events.

The Big 10 Conference and the NCAA recognized the following events for their 2016 Men’s Outdoor Championships:

  • Running:        100, 200, 400, 800, 1500, 5,000, 10,000 meters (note: 1 mile = approx. 1600 meters).
  • Relays:          4 x 100 meters, 4 x 400 meters
  • Hurdles:         110, 400 meters; 3,000 meter steeplechase.
  • Jumping:       Long jump, triple jump (launched off of, and landing on, one leg, followed by a single stride, followed by a jump with a landing on both feet), high jump, and pole vault.
  • Throwing:       shot put (16 pound ball), discus, hammer throw, javelin.
  • All-around:     Decathlon (a 2 day event, including 100m, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400m on the first day, and 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1500m on final day).
Penn State Men’s Outdoor Track & Field History

Penn State has been a member of the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes in America (IC4A) since early in the twentieth century.  Bill Ganzemuller was the school’s first IC4A individual outdoor champion (100 yard dash) in 1922; in all, Penn State has won 84 individual and 1 relay IC4A championships, and 7 team championships.  The legendary Barney Ewell accounted for 9 individual titles from 1940-42 – 3 each in the 100 and 220 yard dashes and the long jump.  Barry Walsh was a 3-time decathlon winner from 1988-90.

From 1975-1980 the Nittany Lions left the IC4A and were members of the Central Collegiate Conference, earning 22 individual championships and 1 relay championship.  Penn State returned to the IC4A in 1981, but has not competed in the IC4A outdoor championships since joining the Big 10.

Penn State has produced 64 individual and 16 relay champions at the Penn Relays.  The 4 x 880 yard relay team of Edgar Carter, J. Russell Edgerton, Schuyler Enck, and Alan Hellfrich set what at the time was a world record of 7 minutes, 48.8 seconds in 1923, and the 1985 4 x 800 meter relay team of Vince Watson, Steve Shisler, Ray Levitre, and Chris Mills was ranked number one in the world in that event.

Penn State began Big 10 track and field competition in 1992, and has claimed 41 individual champions since then, including 3-time javelin winner Troy Burkholder from 1997-1999, and Big 10 record-holder Carl Wolter, also in the javelin (1996).  A Nittany Lion has won the Big 10 javelin championship from 1995-1999, 2004-2007, and in 2014-2015.  In 2010, Big 10 Champions Casimir Loxom (800 m) and Blake Eaton (shotput) were named Mid-Atlantic Region Athletes of the Year, for track, and field, respectively; Loxom won the National Junior Title and was the silver medalist at the World Junior Championships.  In 2018, Isaiah became a 3-time Big Ten Champion in the 800m, then won the NCAA Championship, and was named Mid-East Region Track Athlete of the Year.

In 2018, Penn State finished 5th at the Big Ten Championships and 18th at the NCAA Championships.  In addition to Harris’ Big Ten and NCAA Championships, Michael Biddle was the Big Ten Champion in the javelin, and Morgan Shigo (hammer throw) joined Harris as a 1st team All-American.  After the 2018 season, Harris signed a professional contract.

In 2019, Morgan Shigo became the first Penn Stater to win the Big Ten Championship in the hammer throw; he also was the Penn Relays champion in this event, and then earned 1st Team All-American honors for the 2nd consecutive year.  Mark Porter and Michael Biddle placed 2nd and 3rd respectively in the javelin at the Big Ten’s, Domenic Perretta finished 2nd in the 800m, and Noah Swaby 3rd in the decathlon.  Porter also won the Penn Relays javelin championship, and earned 2nd Team All-American honors at the NCAA Tournament.  Swaby qualified for the NCAA’s but did not compete due to an injury. 

Former Nittany Lions Joe Kovacs and Darrell Hill represented the United States in the shotput  at the 2016 Summer Olympics; Kovacs won the silver medal. .Eddie Lovett represented the U.S. Virgin Islands, and current assistant coach Erin Tucker was an assistant coach for the U.S. Virgin islands. Kovacs, a former U.S. National Champion (2014) and World Champion (2015), was runner-up in the shotput at the 2017 World Championships, and Shuey finished in 3rd place in the javelin at the 2017 World Championships. Hill won the U.S. National Championship in 2018.

 Penn State’s first outdoor track and field All-American was John Romig, who won the 2-mile event in 1921 with a time of 9:31.0.  In all, Penn State has produced 190 individual All-Americans, 1 All-American relay team, and 16 national champions.  Barney Ewell won five individual national championships and was a 9-time All-American.  Football players who gained All-American status were Roosevelt Grier (shot put, 1954), Paul Lankford (400 yard intermediate hurdles, 1980-81), Michael Timpson (200 yards, 1988), and Brian Milne (discus, 1992, 1993).  Lee Talbot was Penn State’s first Olympian, finishing 5thin the hammer throw in 1908.  Penn State has produced 27 Olympians (not all representing the United States).  Horace Ashenfelter, for whom the indoor track is named, is the lone individual gold-medal winner (3,000m steeplechase, 1952); Barney Ewell was part of the gold-medal-winning 4 x 100m relay team in 1948.

Legendary coaches Chic Werner (1933-1962) and Harry Groves (1968-2006), both members of the U.S. Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame, have guided the Nittany Lions outdoor track and field fortunes.  Beth Alford-Sullivan, already the women’s coach, succeeded Groves as men’s track and field coach in 2006.  In June, 2014, Alford-Sullivan left Penn State for similar duties at the University of Tennessee, current coach John Gondak succeeded her.

The home of Penn State outdoor track is the Nittany Lion Outdoor track on the east end of campus.  The Multi-sport Facility on the northwest end of the track provides locker room, weight room, and training facilities.

Team Accomplishments  

IC4A/Central Collegiate (CC) Champions
1942, 1954, 1974, 1975 (CC), 1986-88, 

Big Ten Champions



Chic Werner (1933-1962)  

8 NCAA individual outdoor champions     
35 individual outdoor All-American selections  
3 IC4A outdoor team championships    
42 individual IC4A outdoor champions 
2001 inductee USTCA Hall of Fame  

Harry Groves (1968-2006)                    

2 NCAA individual outdoor champions  
62 individual outdoor All-American selections 
4 IC4A/1 CCC outdoor team championships 
28 individual/1 relay IC4A outdoor champions
21 individual/3 relay CCC outdoor champions
21 individual Big 10 outdoor champions
21 individual All-Big 10 outdoor selections
2001 inductee USTCA Hall of Fame  

Beth Alford-Sullivan (2007-2014)     

15 individual/1 relay Big 10 outdoor champions    

John Gondak (2015-present)     

1 Big Ten Championship 
7 Champions – Penn Relays 
4 Relay Champions – Penn Relays

 12 Champions-Big Ten

8 1st Team All-Americans
2 Mid-Atlantic Region Track Athlete of the Year

2 Mid-Atlantic Region Field Athlete of the Year
Big Ten Coach of the Year (2017)
Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year (2017)  

Notable Players (outdoor honors) IC4A/Centrall Collegiate (CC)

Barney Ewell

5-time NCAA champion
9-time IC4A champion
7-time All-American
3-time Penn Relays champion
1948 Olympic silver medal --100m, 200m
1940 Drake Relays champion – 100 yards                           
1948 Olympic gold medal – 4 x 100m relay 1

Horace Ashenfelter          

949 NCAA champion – 2 miles
3-time All-American
1948, 1949 IC4A champion – 2 miles
1949 Penn Relays champion – 2 miles
1952 Olympic gold medal – 3,000m steeplechase

C. J. Hunter     

1988, 1989, 1990 All-American - shot put
1987-1990 IC4A champion – shot put
1989, 1990 Penn Relays champion – shot put                                        

Casimir Loxsom

2011, 2012, 2013 1st team All-American
2010, 2011, 2012 Big 10 Champion (800m)     
2010, 2011, 2013 Mid-Atlantic Track Athlete of the Year
2013 - NCAA silver medal (800m)
2013 – Penn Relays Most Outstanding Athlete/Relays
2013 – member of distant medley relay team
6th fastest collegiate time ever (at Penn Relays)

Darrell Hill

2015 1st Team All-American (shotput), NCAA silver medal
2015 Mid-Atlantic Region Field Athlete of the Year
2014, 2015 Big 10 Champion, Penn Relays Champion

Brannon Kidder             

2013, 2015, 2016 1st Team All-American
2015, 2016, Big 10 Champion (1500m)
NCAA 1500m medalist - 2013 bronze, 2015 silver
Penn Relays Champion - 2013 (DMR, 4X800m relay)
2015 (4x800 relay), 2016 (, 4x800m relay)


Isaiah Harris

2016-18 Big Ten Champion (800m)

2018 NCAA Champion (800m)

2018 Mid-East Region Track Athlete of the Year 

2017 NCAA silver medalist (800m)


Player Recognition

NCAA Individual Champions – John Romig (1921 - 2 miles); Harold Barron (1922 - 120 yard high hurdles); Alan Helffrich (1922, 1923 - 880 yds.); Larry Shields (1922 - 1 mile); Schuyler Enck (1923 - 1 mile); Nick Vukmanic (1938 – javelin); Barney Ewell (1940, 1941 – 100 yds., 200 yds., 1942 – 100 yds.); Gerald Karver (1947 – 1 mile); Horace Ashenfelter (1949 – 2 miles); Jim Stevenson (1966 – javelin); Charlie McGuire (1973 – 6 miles); Brian Milne (1993 – discus); Isaiah Harris (2018 – 800m)..

All-Americans – 194 individual selections, 2 relay teams.

Big 10 Champions – 53, including 3-time javelin champion Troy Burkholder (1997-1999) and 3-time 800m champion Isaiah Harris.

All-Big 10 – 62 selections.

Mid-Atlantic Track Athlete of the Year - Casimir Loxom (2010, 2011, 2013); Isaiah Harris (2017)

Mid-Atlantic Region Field Athlete of the Year – Clarence Smith (2009); Blake Eaton (2010); Joe Kovacs (2012), Darrell Hill (2015).

Big 10 Field Athlete of the Year – Joe Kovacs (2012, shotput); Darrell Hill (2014, shotput)

Big 10 Freshman of the Year – Robby Creece (2012)

IC4A/CCC Champions – 106 individuals (including 9-time champion Barney Ewell), 4 relay teams.

Penn Relays Champions – 64 individuals (including 4-time champion Lee Talbot), 17 relay teams.

Olympians – 30 participants, including gold medal winners Alan Hellfrich (1924 - 1600m relay), Barney Ewell (1948 – 4 x 100m relay), and Horace Ashenfelter (1952 – 3,000m steeplechase), and 4-time Norwegian Olympian Knute Hjeltnes (1976, 1980, 1984, 1988 – discus).

National Junior Champions - Casimir Loxon (2010, 800 m).

U.S. National Champions - Joe Kovacs (2014, shotput);Darrell Hill (2018, shotput). .

World Champions – Joe Kovacs (2015, shotput).

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