NCAA

Marshall ready for big things at Olympic Trials

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Marshall ready for big things at Olympic Trials

Temple Universitys track is an unlikely home for one of the best long jumpers in the United States.

Squeezed between North 15th and North 16th streets and between West Norris Street and West Montgomery Avenue, its 400 meters of rocks, wind-blown garbage, broken glass and other miscellaneous flotsam and jetsam.

You never know what youre going to see or whats going to happen, Shameka Marshall said with a laugh. You might be warming up and have to dodge a woman pushing a stroller. Or some random person might just walk up to you in the middle of practice and start talking to you. Its always an adventure.

Marshall, a South Jersey native now in her third year as an assistant track coach at Temple, is in Eugene, Ore., this week for the United States Olympic Track and Field Trials. Shes one of the top seeds in the long jump and with a finish among the top three will represent the U.S. in the Olympics later this summer in London.

The Trials began Thursday at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. Long jump qualifying is Friday, June 29, and the finals are a week from Sunday, the final day of the 10-day event.

Marshall, silver medalist in last years Pan Am Games in Mexico, said practicing at Temples unique facility is actually an advantage for her since its taught her to deal with any unexpected issue that may arise while shes competing.

It teaches you how to deal with distractions, she said. You learn to embrace it instead of fighting it. Now, whatever happens during a meet, whatever distraction might come up -- and theres always something coming up -- you feel like, Hey, I can deal with this.

Marshall grew up in tiny Quinton Township in Salem County and graduated in 2001 from Oakcrest High School, where she won the New Jersey Meet of Champions titles in both the long jump and triple jump as a senior.

She was a two-time All-America at Rutgers, where she set seven school records (including relays), was runner-up in the long jump in the indoor NCAAs as a senior, ranked among the top-10 U.S. women twice and enjoyed success in the sprints and hurdles as well as the horizontal jumps.

Her first couple years after college were tough, as she adjusted to training on her own and post-scholarship life. But in 2010, she blossomed, surpassing the 22-foot barrier for the first time at USATF nationals in Des Moines, where she placed fourth at 22-1 12.

She started coaching at Temple in 2010 and thats also when Temple mens coach Eric Mobley, a Central High graduate and star sprinter and jumper at La Salle in the early 1990s, began coaching her.

Marshall, 28, is ranked No. 8 among all U.S. women going into the Trials with a season-best 21-9, but other than World No. 1 Brittney Reese, the only 23-footer in the field, the event is wide open.

I feel really good, really confident going in, Marshall said. Ive had a good year so far, Ive been consistent, and I feel really good about where I am. Ive been focusing in practice on some smaller technical points -- small points that can throw you off in a big way -- and I just feel really ready right now. Im really excited to get going.

Whenever Marshall is finished with track, she has another career waiting to get started.

She comes from a musical family -- dad plays the bass, mom sings -- and shes been singing since she was 4 years old. She majored in music at Rutgers, writes and sings her own songs and hopes to record her music once she has the time.

I do it for fun, but Im also serious about it, she said. I would love to get into the studio and record it. I just want to share it.

But first, theres an Olympic team to make.

Marshall competed at the 2004 Trials in Sacramento and jumped 20-1 12, which didnt get her into the finals. At the 2008 Trials in Eugene, she went 21-0 in the trials and then sailed 21-6 in the final, good for seventh overall. She missed an Olympic berth by an agonizing 6 12 inches.

This year?

Shes ready for big things.

The 2004 Trials, I was so young, and I basically was just in awe of Marion Jones, she said. In 2008, that was a great experience for me, making the finals.

Having been through it twice, I feel like Im really ready for it. Im just going to go out there and have fun. Its so important in a meet like this to be able to relax. You cant jump far if youre nervous or tight.

Im ready. At any moment, Im ready to jump huge.
Other Philly Athletes to Watch at the Trials:

Brian Chaput (Penn) - Veteran javelin specialist is still going strong after three Tommy John surgeries. Chaput has a seasons best of 249-5 and a PR of 263-11.

Bobby Curtis (Villanova) - Curtis is the No. 2 seed in the 10,000-meter run at 27:24.67, the No. 7 mark in U.S. history.

Greta Feldman (Haddonfield, N.J.) - Princeton sophomore had a breakout year, running 2:03.65 for 800 meters and 4:12.78 for 1,500 meters. Shell race the 1,500 in Eugene.

English Gardner (Voorhees, N.J.) - The three-time NCAA champion out of Eastern Regional High is No. 5 seed in the womens 100-meter dash just three years after ACL and MCL surgery.

Ryann Krais (Norristown) - Methacton High graduate, now at Kansas State, is a former World Junior champion in the heptathlon and a legit medal contender in the two-day multi-event.

Nicole Leach (Philadelphia) - Former Penn Relays star for West Catholic and UCLA graduate has run 55.37 this year and has a great chance to reach the 400 intermediates final.

Travis Mahoney (Temple) - Owls All-America from Old Bridge, N.J., has run 8:36.10 for the steeplechase and is coming off a fifth-place finish at NCAAs.
Reuben McCoy (Atco, N.J.) - Schoolboy star at Winslow Township and All-America at Auburn is one of 14 sub-50 400-meter intermediate hurdles in the field. McCoys season best is 49.83.

Rob Novak (Bordentown) - Former schoolboy national champion PRd this spring at 1:46.01 and will race the 800.

Chanelle Price (Easton, Pa.) - Tennessees nine-time All-America will run the 800. Shes run 2:01.49 this year.

Maalik Reynolds (Penn) - Two-time NCAA high jump All-America has cleared a personal-best 7-4 34 this spring.

Jen Rhines (Villanova) - Former Wildcat star is No. 4 seed in the womens 5,000 at 15:10.44.
Latavia Thomas (Philadelphia) - Another West Catholic grad, Thomas, a 12-time All-America at LSU, has a 1:59.67 to her credit this year, which makes her No. 7 seed in the 800.
Shericka Ward (Villanova) - Villanova senior is a three-time All-America in the high hurdles and has a PR of 12.97.

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

Ryquell Armstead runs for 6 touchdowns in Temple's win over Houston

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Ryquell Armstead runs for 6 touchdowns in Temple's win over Houston

BOX SCORE 

Ryquell Armstead ran for 210 yards and six touchdowns and Temple outlasted Houston with a 59-49 win on Saturday night.

Armstead finished a touchdown shy of the school's single-game TD record Montel Harris set against Army in 2012.

Temple (6-4, 5-1 American Athletic Conference) forced Houston to three-and-out on its first possession. Ty Mason blocked Dane Roy's punt on fourth down, Braden Mack returned it the Cougars' 8-yard line and Armstead ran it in two plays later from 3 yards out. D'Eriq King was sacked and fumbled on Houston's next possession and Temple recovered. The Owls drove 66 yards in 12 plays and Armstead crashed in from 4 yards out to score.

Temple built a 28-14 halftime lead and extended it when Armstead ran for a 33-yard touchdown to start the third quarter. King threw for a score and ran for another, but the Owls responded with two TDs of their own for a 49-28 lead.

King passed for 322 yards and five TDs and ran for 125 yards and a score. Houston fell to 7-3, 4-2.

Trace McSorley matches Penn State record for wins at quarterback with victory over Wisconsin

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Trace McSorley matches Penn State record for wins at quarterback with victory over Wisconsin

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Trace McSorley and Penn State went back to a familiar formula Saturday — a steady diet of elusive Miles Sanders.

The resurgent running game put the Nittany Lions offense back on track, and got McSorley a milestone victory, too.

Sanders ran for 159 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, McSorley matched Todd Blackledge's program record with his 29th win at quarterback and No. 21 Penn State beat Wisconsin 22-10.

If Sanders had been irritated that his rushing totals had fallen off along with the Nittany Lions' offensive output lately, he hadn't shown it. He considers himself a patient tailback, and he channeled some pent-up energy into running over the Badgers.

"People may say that at times (Sanders) had been frustrated, but you never saw that," Penn State coach James Franklin said. "Would we love to rush for more yards week in and week out? No doubt about it."

Penn State (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten, No. 20 CFP) racked up 200-plus rushing yards in each of the first six games but had averaged just 120 over the last three. Meanwhile, McSorley -- a key part of the team's rushing attack -- has been dealing with a sore right knee.

McSorley completed 19 of 25 passes for 160 yards and a TD. He appeared to hurt his left knee in the first half but got some relief watching Sanders juke through the Badgers with his shifty running style.

"Something that I don't think he gets enough credit for is the balance he has," McSorley said. "He's able to take on a hit and shake it off, maintain his balance and keep going."

The Badgers had no balance with starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook out with a concussion.

Jonathan Taylor ran 20 times for 185 yards and a touchdown for Wisconsin (6-4, 4-3), but backup quarterback Jack Coan completed just 9 of 20 passes for 60 yards with two interceptions and was sacked five times. The Badgers have lost three of their last five games.

"We've got to execute better," Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. "We knew coming in, it's a good defense."

DeAndre Thompkins caught a touchdown pass for Penn State, and the Nittany Lions held the Badgers to 125 yards in the second half.

Jake Pinegar made three field goals for Penn State while Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone added the Badgers final points midway through the third quarter.

Wisconsin broke through first when Taylor ran 71 yards to the end zone on the Badgers' first possession.

But McSorley led back-to-back scoring drives to give the Nittany Lions the lead for good. He hit Thompkins for a 14-yard touchdown pass to cap an eight-play drive, then led the offense just past midfield to set up Pinegar's 49-yard field goal.

Sanders added a 1-yard touchdown run midway through the second.

Pressure galore
Beaver Stadium was more difficult than usual for a quarterback to make his first career road start Saturday. Freezing temperatures were made worse by a constant wind powered by gusts up to 40 miles per hour.

At times, it looked like Penn State's defensive line was playing that fast. Shareef Miller and Wisconsin native Robert Windsor each turned in two sacks, and Coan was hurried or hit a handful of times.

Young wideouts
The Nittany Lions have been looking for more options in the passing game all season. Aside from KJ Hamler, who was targeted on six of Penn State's first 12 plays, another consistent playmaker has yet to emerge.

But a handful of underclassmen saw their most extended playing time yet. Jahan Dotson, Cam Sullivan-Brown and Justin Shorter combined to play season-high snap counts and contributed a combined four catches for 51 yards.

The takeaway
Wisconsin: The Badgers were limited on offense without Hornibrook. Coan attempted just four passes in the first half and completed two for 10 yards. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions were able to load up the box and keep Taylor from getting into the end zone following his first big run.

Penn State: Offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne stuck with the running game and fed Sanders the ball, going back to what worked for Penn State earlier in the season as McSorley deals with a sore knee. The offensive line was solid, and the strategy worked well. It was Sanders' first 100-yard rushing game since Oct. 13.

Up next
Wisconsin travels to Purdue.

Penn State visits Rutgers.