Penn State held its cross country awards dinner earlier this month and one of the easiest honors to pass out was for Women’s Rookie of the Year. That plaque went to Tessa Barrett who earned All-American honors for finishing 38th in the NCAA Division I Championships Nov. 21 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Barrett (Abington Heights), who really came on at the end of the season, was clocked in 20:26.7 for six kilometers to lead the Nittany Lions to a 16th place finish.
“Tessa had a fantastic race,” coach John Gondak told the media after the championship. “I know she was very pleased with how things went.”
Barrett finished 12th in the Big Ten Championship with a 6k time of 20:21.4 as Penn State took the team title, but she really showed her stuff at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals when she finished fourth (21:02.2) to lead the Nittany Lions to the team title and an automatic bid to the championship meet.
Barrett is now gearing up for the track season, the indoor campaign beginning with the Penn State Relays Saturday, Jan. 9 in University Park.
Basalyga catches on
Freshman Clay Basalyga (Abington Heights) has played in all nine games and started four for the Wilkes men’s basketball team, the Colonels 3-6 overall and 0-2 in MAC Freedom play. The 6-foot-3, guard/forward, is averaging 6.1 points and 4.9 rebounds a game with 20 assists. He had a college career high 13 points and eight rebounds in his first game, an 82-60 victory over Summit. He scored 11 points in an 82-69 triumph over Marywood and in an 84-77 loss to Manhattanville.
“Clay has been a pleasure to coach,” coach Izzi Metz said. “On a daily basis, he is enthusiastic and plays with great energy. He practices well and has had a good start to his college career.”
The coach feels that Basalyga has handled the pace of college basketball exceptionally well.
“His physical strength and his willingness to be coached have allowed him to make an immediate impact on our program. Clay has proven to be a very good all-around player in his freshman year.”
Gibson chipping in
Junior Maria Gibson is having a solid season as a member of the Penn State-Altoona women’s swim team. Gibson (Abington Heights) is scoring points in a number of individual events and relays for the Lions. She had her best performance thus far in a 142-82 loss to Salisbury, Maryland when she captured the 100 breaststroke (1:26.39) and swam a leg on the winning 200 free relay (1:56.62).
“Maria is doing as expected this season,” coach Gregory Scallen said. “Her times are progressively getting better and I expect she will deliver her best performances in February at our conference championships.”
The coach said that Gibson is a great teammate who leads by example.
“Her work ethic and dedication to the team has earned her captain status this year,” Scallen said. “She is consistent in and out of the pool and her attitude is upbeat.”
The Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Championships are Feb. 10-12 in Grove City.
Second team for Fives
Senior captain JJ Fives was named to the All-Ivy League second team for his play with the Cornell football team, which suffered through a 1-9 season. Fives, from Scott Township (Scranton Prep) played outside linebacker for the Big Red and had 52 tackles, ranked fourth in the league in sacks (4.5) and fifth in tackles for a loss (8.0). In the team’s final five games, he had 27 tackles, six for losses with 3.5 sacks. He had a career-high nine tackles twice –against Dartmouth and against Patriot League champion Colgate.
Smertz is versatile
Freshman Rachel Smertz (Abington Heights) is scoring points in a number of events for the Ithaca women’s swim team. She competes in the 200, 500 and 1000 freestyle as well as the 100 and 200 backstroke and is also swimming with most of the relay teams.
Smertz had her best performance thus far when she finished second in the 500 freestyle in a 148-95 victory over William Smith.
The Bombers are 5-2 in dual meets and opens the second half of the season competing in the RPI’s Henry Krumpf Invitational Saturday, Jan. 16 in Troy, New York.