MADISON, Wis. - Penn State sophomore Laura Loht, an Indian Valley High School graduate, took top honors in the women's javelin Saturday at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships. Teammate and freshman Lauren Kenney made it a Nittany Lion sweep, finishing in second.
Going into the javelin final in third-place overall, Kenney unleashed her best throw of the afternoon on her fifth attempting, posting a mark of 159-04 to overtake her teammate for the overall lead. Loht would wait for her final attempt, and the final throw of the competition, to turn in the day's best performance, throwing 160-11 for her first-career Big Ten title.
"The feeling is almost surreal," Loht said. "I ended up getting it on the last throw and it was a little back and forth between Kenney and I."
Loht is certainly no stranger to winning championships. The former Warrior has a pair of state titles in the javelin - 2008 and 2010. In her senior year, she won the Penn Relays and set meet records in winning the West Central Coaches and the District 6 Class AAA meet.
"I'm still having a blast doing (throwing javelin)," she said. "I wouldn't be doing this if I wasn't having fun. It doesn't matter if it's a small meet or not, I'm still going to go out strong."
Last year, Loht finished third at the Big Ten Championships as a freshman.
"Competition wise, the transition from high school to college was a big deal for me," she said. "I had a really great freshman year."
Loht is the Nittany Lions' second champion of the weekend, following Kara Millhouse in the 10,000-meter run on Friday. The sophomore is also the second-straight Penn State athlete to take top honors in the event, matching Karlee McQuillen's victory from 2011.
"Only as a sophomore, it's an amazing feeling," she said. "I can't wait to come back the next few years and try to repeat."
The Nittany Lions enjoyed an outstanding day in qualifying on both the men's and women's sides.
Also turning in a scoring performance in a Saturday final was junior Natalie Bower in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Bower clocked 10:17.83 - the second-fastest effort of her career - on her way to a sixth-place finish.
Thanks to scoring efforts from Loht, Kenney, and Bower, the Nittany Lion women accumulated 39 points over the first two days of competition and finished the championships in fourth place.
"We ended up fourth overall, it wasn't too bad," Loht said. "The coaches were really happy with us. We're still young and we'll all be back."