UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Set to lead her No. 9 Nittany Lions to the NCAA Cross Country Championships this weekend, Director and Head Coach of Penn State Track and Field/Cross Country Beth Alford-Sullivan has been named United States Track and Field/Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA) Mid-Atlantic Region Women’s Coach of the Year, announced by the association office on Tuesday (Nov. 13).
Sullivan has had the Nittany Lions on a record-setting pace this fall, as the Blue and White captured top honors at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, last weekend. The NCAA Championships are set for Saturday (Nov. 17) in Louisville, Ky.
With the No. 9 rating, Sullivan’s Lions are the highest ranked Penn State women’s squad since 1996, when the team appeared at No. 7, during the week of October 14. The Mid-Atlantic victory was also the first in program history. The honor is the 25th “Coach of the Year” citation over Sullivan, who in her 14th season at the helm of the Penn State women’s cross country and track and field squads, and her seventh as the Director and Head Coach of both the men’s and women’s programs.
The Nittany Lions have enjoyed several outstanding finishes throughout the season, including a team title at the annual Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational in September. Last month, the Nittany Lions raced to an eighth-place finish at the high-powered Adidas Wisconsin Invitational, and capped off the month of October with a third-place finish at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships.
Sullivan coached seven athletes to all-region status, which is awarded to the top 25 finishers by gender at the NCAA Regional Championships. Junior Victoria Perri (Philadelphia, Pa.) led a trio of Nittany Lions in the top 10 at the regional, thanks to a fourth-place finish overall. Teammates Brooklyne Ridder (Cincinnati, Ohio), and Rebekka Simko (Mentor, Ohio), who was also an All-Big Ten selection, followed in sixth and 10th, respectively. Fellow Nittany Lions Leigha Anderson (Carlisle, Pa.), and Emily Giannotti (Coudersport, Pa.) also picked up all-region certificates, taking 20th, and 21st, overall.
On the men’s side, Sullivan guided seniors Sam Masters (Columbia, Mo.) and Tyler Jones (Chalfont, Pa.) to all-region finishes, with Masters crossing in 12th overall, and Jones finishing 25th. Masters also earned an “at-large” bid to represent the Nittany Lions in Louisville.
The Nittany Lions’ NCAA appearance this weekend will mark the fourth-consecutive year that Sullivan has guided the Nittany Lion women to the national cross country meet. Last year, the Nittany Lions placed 13th in the team standings, paced by a 16th-place and All-America finish from then-senior Caitlin Lane. Lane’s finish was the second highest by a Nittany Lion woman in the NCAA era.