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Butler’s Bowden headed to Penn State

Track and field standout to compete in hurdles for Nittany Lions

BUTLER TWP — Once Lauren Bowden began clearing the 300-meter hurdles at Butler, she developed two goals.

Soar higher. Run faster.

Butler’s Lauren Bowden, flanked by parents Doreen and Gary Bowden, recently signed a letter of intent to continue her academic and track and field career at Penn State University. Looking on, from left, are Butler track coaches Colton Nist, Mike Seybert, Jeff Renwick and John Williams. John Enrietto/Butler Eagle

The Golden Tornado senior accomplished both this past season and recently signed a letter of intent to continue her academic and track career at Penn State University. She plans to major in speech pathology.

“I played soccer in junior high and it was there I got the suggestion to try hurdles in track,” Bowden said. “I came to love track as an individual sport. You’re not only competing against others, you’re competing against yourself.”

Now graduated from high school, Bowden said the athletic achievement she’s most proud of is placing fifth in the 300-meter hurdles at the PIAA Championships last month. She had not qualified for states prior to this year.

“That’s what made it so special,” Bowden said.

But it was not alone in terms of the impact she’s made on Butler County track and field history.

Bowden led the county this year in the 300 hurdles with a time of 44.07 seconds. She was also WPIAL champion in that event. That time is third fastest all-time in the county, and the fastest posted by a female runner in the county since Slippery Rock’s Melissa Sopher ran a 43.78 in 2002.

Bowden also ran a leg of Butler’s 4x100 relay, which posted a time of 48.99 seconds, second fastest in county history.

“Lauren is a great runner and a great competitor,” Butler hurdles coach Jeff Renwick said. “I think she’ll even be better in the 400-hurdles (in college) than the 300. She has more potential that hasn’t been tapped out yet.

“She ran the longest leg of our 4x1 and she was our anchor in the 4x4. Those were tough assignments and she rose to the occasion.”

Bowden is joining a Penn State team that placed fifth at the Big Ten Championships this spring. The Nittany Lions are losing 17 seniors off their roster of 55.

John Gondak is in his 10th year as Penn State women’s track and field head coach, his 18th with the staff. He’s been a part of five Big Ten outdoor team championships there, along with three indoor crowns.

Bowden listed her immediate goal on the track at Penn State as getting the 400-meter hurdles down.

“I know that’s going to be a challenge because I’ve never run that event before,” she said. “That extra 100 meters is a big difference. I know there are great athletes on that team who are going to push me. I’m excited about that.

“I just want to be as good as I can be.”

Renwick has little doubt she’ll get there.

“Lauren is going to a great program and she’ll fit right in,” he said. “As strong a competitor as she is, she’ll find a way to make an impact.”

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