Penn State Olympians enter week two seeking more medals in Rio

Alisha Glass Rio Olympics

Former Penn State All-Americans Christa (Harmotto) Dietzen and Alisha Glass, pictured, have been instrumental in the United States women's volleyball team finishing unbeaten in group play.

Credit: USATSI

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State student-athletes earned two medals during the opening week of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, and nine Nittany Lions will be seeking similar success during the final week of competition.

Twelve Nittany Lions across eight teams have competed in the Games of the XXXI Olympiad thus far, earning two medals. Former fencing All-American Miles Chamley-Watson delivered the 30th Olympic medal by a Penn State student-athlete on Aug. 12, as he helped the United States men’s foil team defeat Italy to win the bronze medal. Another fencing All-American, Monica Aksamit, helped the U.S. women’s saber squad also beat Italy to win the bronze medal on Aug. 13, earning the Nittany Lions’ 31st Olympic medal all-time.

Chamley-Watson became the first Penn State men’s fencer to win an Olympic medal for the U.S., while Aksamit is the first member of the Nittany Lion women’s fencing team to win an Olympic medal.

Penn State has a school-record contingent of 25 in Rio, which includes 18 competitors (16 student-athletes), three coaches and four alternates, representing the United States, Mexico, Ireland, Japan and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With 12 first-time competitors in Rio, the Nittany Lions have had a total of 109 student-athlete Olympians all-time.

Penn State’s 12 active competitors on Team USA leads the Big Ten and are tied for No. 6 among all colleges and universities, according to the United States Olympic Committee. The Nittany Lions are tied with Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon and Princeton with 12 Team USA members for the Rio Olympics.

Penn State Rio Olympics week two preview:

Men’s and women’s volleyball
Former Penn State All-Americans Christa (Harmotto) Dietzen and Alisha Glass have been instrumental in the United States women’s volleyball team finishing unbeaten in group play. The U.S. defeated China 3-1 on Sunday to improve to 5-0 and win Pool B. The quarterfinals begin Tuesday and the U.S. will face Japan at 1 p.m. on NBC.

Led by three former Nittany Lion standouts, the U.S. men’s volleyball team defeated France 3-1 on Saturday to win its second straight after an 0-2 start in the tournament. Matt Anderson (18 points vs. France), Max Holt and Aaron Russell (18 points vs. France) are starters on the squad. Penn State’s three U.S. men’s volleyball squad members are the most among all colleges and universities.

The U.S. men’s volleyball team closes out group play when it meets Mexico at 10:35 a.m. ET today (Aug. 15), with coverage on NBC. The Mexico squad features former Nittany Lion Carlos Guerra, as well as assistant coach Ivan Contreras, who was the 1997 AVCA Player of the Year and helped Penn State win the 1994 NCAA championship.

Men’s track and field
Former Penn State track and field standouts Darrell Hill and Joe Kovacs will compete in the men’s shot put on Thursday, Aug. 18. Action begins at 9:55 a.m. and the finals are set for 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Kovacs and Hill finished second and third at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Eddie Lovett, a volunteer coach with Penn State track and field, will compete in the men’s 110-meter hurdles Monday night for the U.S. Virgin Islands. He is in heat 3, slated for 7:56 p.m. ET. Lovett is coached by Erin Tucker, associate head coach of the Penn State men’s and track field teams.

The final Nittany Lion to begin competition is Frank Molinaro, who won’t take to the wrestling mat until Sunday, the final day of the Rio Olympics. Action begins at 7:30 a.m. ET with coverage on USA Network, with the finals starting at 12:30 p.m. on NBCSN. A Penn State assistant wrestling coach and 2012 NCAA champion, Molinaro won the U.S. Olympic Trials title in the 65kg men’s freestyle wrestling. Molinaro also captured the Freestyle World Cup title at 65kg in June.

Women’s basketball
Former Nittany Lion basketball standout Tom Hovasse is an assistant coach on the Japan women’s basketball team, which was 3-2 in Group A and qualified for Tuesday’s quarterfinals. The Japanese squad plays the United States, which won Group B with a 5-0 mark.

In addition, Bobby Lea, who graduated from Penn State Lehigh Valley, is competing for the U.S. Cycling team in the Omnium competition, which began on Sunday and continues today. Lea is participating in his third consecutive summer Olympics. Penn State student Matt Baranoski begins competition Tuesday for U.S. Cycling in the Keirin competition. Baranoski also attended the Lehigh Valley campus for two years before transitioning to University Park, where he will complete his degree in electrical engineering. 

The closing ceremonies for the Rio Olympics will be held Sunday night.

Not including the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, where 65 countries did not participate, Penn State has sent athletes to each Summer Olympics since 1948, a streak of 17 consecutive Games. Penn State sent a then-school record 17 competitors and coaches to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The complete schedule for Penn State Athletics’ competitors and coaches and more can be found at the Nittany Lions’ Rio Olympics Central: