When playing a sport for an NCAA Division III school, you only dream of competing against Division I and II schools. However, for the Lions’ cross country teams, it was a dream times 69 come true.
In the 33rd Annual Brooks Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh University, the biggest competition of the season, the men raced against 42 teams, only five of which were Division III teams. The women’s team competed against 35 teams, with only three of the Division III level.
“This is the most competitive race,” head coach Phil Jennings said. “There is always room for improvement.”
The Lions had top finishers in the invitational held at Lehigh University. As a team, the women finished 19th with a team score of 501. With the current standings, the women are ranked sixth in the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association Division III poll, while the men finished 21st and are ranked 13th in the same poll.
Jennings went on to say, “The most surprising (thing) was how well (SUNY-Cortland) did; they finished fourth overall and are in our conference. This was a great learning experience for us.”
Sophomore Martine McGrath was the top finisher for the Lions, finishing 54th with a time of 22:08. The women’s 6K had 236 runners competing and the Lions had seven finish in 153rd or better.
“I really concentrated on my summer training this year, making sure I did as much as I could to be prepared for the season,” McGrath said. “I also know what to expect from racing and training, which definitely has helped me improve.”
Senior Jenna Fasulo placed 88th in 22:42. Following in 111th was Megan O’Leary in 23:03 and closely behind was senior Jenna Prendergast placing 115th in 23:08. Senior Allyson Krayl finished the race in 23:25 to earn the 133rd spot, while Stephanie Herrick placed 144th in 23:30. Junior Sara Best was the seventh runner crossing the line at 23:36 in 153rd.
“This race was a big confidence booster because it showed us that as a team we can compete at a higher level, which is important as we approach championship season,” McGrath said.
In men’s action, the Lions finished the race with a team score of 588. That earned them 21st place in the 43-team event.
“The team performed well,” junior Kyle Alpaugh said. “But we still are working hard and our best races are still ahead of us.”
The top finisher for the Lions was Alpaugh, placing 97th in 25:44.
“We will definitely be in the mix with a few other very good squads who are very capable of winning big races in the regional competitions,” Alpaugh said.
Sophomore Chris Guerriero finished 108th in 25:50.
“We beat Ithaca, who placed one higher than us in regional and national competitions last year,” Jennings said. “We need to stay focused and keep on training.”
Next up for the College is a visit to Albany, N.Y., for the Haverford College Invitational on Oct. 14.