Lions race toward Nationals

On Saturday, the cross country teams headed in different directions as the varsity team traveled to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Brooks Cross Country Invitational while the other half of the team competed in Allentown, Pa., at the DeSales University Invitational.

The women’s team placed fourth overall out of 14 teams at the Brooks Invitational. Holding the top three places in the meet were Washington University (53), Haverford College (118) and Wisconsin-Oshkosh (129). The College is currently ranked 24th and finished the 6K race with 132 points.

Junior Martine McGrath set the pace for the Lions women as she finished in 22:05, placing 10th. Next were junior Megan O’Leary in 28th place with a time of 22:50 and junior Angela Tecco in 29th place with a finishing time of 22:59.

While senior co-captain Christine Nystrom ran a 23:07 to place 32nd, juniors Stephanie Herrick and Nicole Ullmeyer were right behind finishing 33rd (23:13) and 34th (23:15), respectively.

“Every single one of our seven girls who raced in Wisconsin got a personal record in the race,” Nystrom said. “We attribute a lot of that to our executing things well by working together mid-race when it sometimes gets tougher to push on your own.”

Rounding out the Lions for the women was freshman Kristen Lewis with a time of 23:32 and a 46th place showing.

“Our placing at this meet will help us in the national rankings, which are very important during the championship season,” McGrath said. “More importantly, it helped us show ourselves that we are capable of competing with top teams.”

The men’s team had a rewarding day on the 8K course. The 20th ranked Lions placed ninth out of 22 teams, falling to New York University (68), Haverford College (71) and North Central College (90).

Junior Chris Guerriero took home seventh in 24:34 while senior Steve Kinney came in 39th with a time of 25:22.

“(Kinney) really showed a lot of heart and is still improving,” Guerriero said. “He has put in huge amounts of work and is really seeing it help in these meets.”

Freshman TJ Bocchino finished 64th in 25:45 while senior co-captain Galen Johnson placed 70th, crossing the finish line in 25:50. Junior Josh Krowicki finished in 87th (26:11), senior Anthony Arnold placed 89th (26:12) and sophomore Brandon Rodkewitz added a 129th-place finish (28:14).

“This was a new meet for the whole team,” McGrath said, “so traveling to Wisconsin was exciting for everyone. It was a good team-bonding experience, and we all had a lot of fun. Also, it was good for us to see competition in a different part of the country that we had never seen.”

The Lions’ performance in Pennsylvania should not be overlooked. The men won the men’s title at the DeSales Invitational with a team score of 71 points, just outrunning Salisbury University (72).

Leading the race for the Lions was senior Kyle Alpaugh. His time of 26:48 gave him a third-place finish, while sophomore teammate Mike Fonder crossed the finish line right after him in 26:49, placing fourth.

The women took fifth at DeSales out of a field of 23 teams. Junior Sara Best led the women with a time of 24:53 to capture 11th place.

The Lions will spend the next two weeks in preparation for the National Championship season, which is scheduled to begin on Saturday, Oct. 27.

“The next two weeks are good because we can get in a lot of harder types of workouts before the season starts to enter the championship portion,” Guerriero said. “Now it’s time to get really serious and start focusing on what we have trained all year for. That’s really what this team’s all about.”