Lions hang tough against D-I runners

The Lions’ cross country teams toed the line against some of the fiercest runners in the nation on Friday, at the highly competitive 35th Annual Brooks Paul Short Invitational. Senior Martine McGrath led the College’s harriers for the second week in a row, earning a top-50 finish in the women’s 6-kilometer race.

The event, hosted by Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., drew several top-tier Division I teams, including Cornell University, Villanova University and local rival Princeton University.

“The Paul Short Invitational gives us a good look at where we stand as teams and what we can look forward to in the championship portion of our season,” head coach Phil Jennings said.

Out of a field of 43 teams, the Lions’ women placed 24th with 738 points. West Virginia University (47 points), Villanova University (78 points) and Baylor University (94 points) claimed the top three places in the team standings.

Stomping past its competition, the College’s women’s team was the top NCAA Division III team at Friday’s tough race.

McGrath cracked the top 50, pushing herself to a 41st-place finish in the 6-kilometer (21:28). Junior Michelle Wallace boasted a time of 22:15, finishing 102nd overall.

Following the pace of the team leaders, senior Stephanie Herrick earned 132nd place, crossing the finish line with a time of 22:34.

Junior Megan Donovan (224th, 23:33), junior Nicole Ullmeyer (239th, 23:48) and senior Justine Carnevale (244th, 23:51) also ran for the Lions.

Finishing with 851 points, the men’s team placed 30th out of 45 in the team standings. It was second among the four NCAA Division III teams that competed Friday, trailing only 27th-place Haverford College. The University of Wisconsin and Syracuse University took the top two spots. The Badgers were first with 52 points, beating out the Orangemen (96 points).

In the grueling 8-kilometer race, senior Chris Guerriero led the Lions with a 91st-place finish in a field of 298. Guerriero clocked a time of 25:03. Sophomore TJ Bocchino was second for the Lions with a time of 25:25, earning 127th place.

“It’s such a huge meet, and the atmosphere is awesome,” Bocchino said after his race. “We just need to work on closing the gap between our No. 1 and No. 5 guys and we should be ready to compete with the best of them.”

Continuing his breakout rookie season, freshman Alex Yersak was the next Lion to cross the finish line. The newcomer had a strong race, taking 161st in a time of 25:46.

Senior Mike Fonder (232nd place, 26:41) and sophomore Dennie Waite (240th place, 26:41) also scored for the Lions.

With this tough race out of the way, the team looks ahead to the rest of the season. For the next meet, both teams will travel to Williamstown, Mass., where they will be running in the Williams College Plansky Invitational on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

“It is nice for all of us to get off campus for a while,” Bocchino said, “and (to) compete against teams that we do not normally compete against.”