Dani Prunzik attended Upper St. Clair’s playoff football game Friday and the Steelers game Sunday, but up until just a few weeks ago, she had never been to a college football game.
Her first one? Penn State’s annual White Out game.
“It was insane and very exciting,” Prunzik said of taking in Penn State’s 45-17 win against Minnesota while on her official visit to the school.
It likely won’t be Prunzik’s final college football experience or even her last White Out game. That’s because the Upper St. Clair sprint standout will continue her career at Penn State.
Prunzik, one of the top sprinters in the state, signed with Penn State last Wednesday, just a few days after making a verbal commitment. Prunzik also took an official visit to Tulane and considered both Maryland and Richmond, but after visiting Penn State, she decided to cancel her final visits.
“I wanted to commit soon, and I didn’t need to look at another school because I liked [Penn State] so much,” said Prunzik, whose dad played college football at Maryland. “I felt like it was either Penn State or I would just start my season and keep looking.”
Penn State recruited Prunzik to compete in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. She won the 100 and finished second in the 200 at the WPIAL Class 3A championships her junior season. She was then the runner-up in the 100 and placed fifth in the 200 at the PIAA championships. Prunzik owns personal bests of 12.05 seconds in the 100 and 24.76 in the 200.
Prunzik was actually courted by Penn State twice. Initially, she was recruited by sprint coach Erin Tucker. But when Tucker left to become the head coach at Eastern Washington in July, Prunzik pretty much crossed the Nittany Lions off her list. But Penn State eventually hired former volunteer assistant Brandon Rizzo as its new sprint coach, and it didn’t take long before Rizzo reached out to Prunzik on social media to see if she would consider taking an official visit.
“I thought I might as well see what the new coach was all about. I did, and he ended up offering,” Prunzik recalls.
Prunzik’s host on the official visit was actually a former Upper St. Clair sprinter herself. Jane Madson is a senior at Penn State.
“We went to the game with 10 of their runners,” Prunzik said. “They were all just very welcoming and answering all the questions I had. Coach Rizzo was really nice and open.”
And with that, Prunzik’s recruitment was closed.
The speedster who edged out Prunzik for the WPIAL Class 3A 200 title has also picked a college. Indiana senior Abbie Huey will continue her career at Georgetown. Huey captured titles in the 200 and 400 at the WPIAL championships. She then set personal records in both events at the PIAA championships, finishing fifth in the 200 (24.58 seconds) and sixth in the 400 (56.60). Huey joins Pine-Richland distance runner Natalie McLean as WPIAL seniors headed to run at Georgetown.
Puhalla to the ‘Ville
For the second year in a row, a Moon senior distance star has committed to a big-time college. Jacob Puhalla has decided to attend Louisville. Puhalla said he also considered North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Youngstown State. As a junior, Puhalla ran a meet-record time of 1:51.49 to claim a title in the 800 at the WPIAL Class 3A championships and went on to place fourth in the event at the PIAA championships. At that same meet, then-Moon senior Mia Cochran became the first girl to triple in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. Cochran is now a freshman at Arkansas.
Gateway’s Madi Jesih (Robert Morris).