Lions grab fifth against top-notch field

After racing at the Lafayette Leopard Invitational this past weekend, the Lions clearly showed that they were the most dominant of the Division III teams there. Of the 13 schools competing, the men and women finished in fifth and sixth place, respectively.

The College runs well. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

“Other than Muhlenberg and Lebanon Valley, they were all Division I and Division II schools so there was definitely some good competition and good schools,” head coach Phil Jennings said about the meet.

As for the way his teams competed, Jennings was impressed with both the men and women.

“Anytime the top scoring (men) are that close then that’s really positive to be able to pact the guys in like that,” he said.

The top-five runners for the Lions all finished within 19 seconds of each other, a very impressive feat. Leading them on the challenging five-mile course was freshman Jack Leahy with a time of 26:29.41, which was good enough for 26th overall. Right behind Leahy was junior Dominic Tasco and senior Andy Gallagher with times of 26:30.24 and 26:38.12, respectively.

“The whole team did amazing,” Leahy said. “It was a tough course, but we were able to stick it out.”

As for this freshman, finishing first for his team happened on his birthday, making the result extra special.

“This week he was able to do really well before we go into the NJAC championships so that should definitely help with us moving forward,” Jennings said of Leahy. “Anytime you can build off a race like that, then that’s a good thing.”

As for the women, senior Cathy Goncalves was able to lead the Lady Lions after an exceptional top-10 individual finish. This performance helped her edge a lot of elite Division I athletes with the time of 21:31.53.

“She really competed well today and just needs to keep working,” Jennings said of Goncalves. “We knew she was definitely capable of (competing at such a high level).”

Following Goncalves and finishing second for the College was sophomore Jillian Manzo with the time of 22:41.12.Behind her, placing 50-53th overall, were senior Rachel Morris, junior Megan Flynn, senior Alyssa Bannon and sophomore Tara Nealon, respectively.

According to Jennings, he is happy with the team’s progression so far and he thinks that they are peaking at the right time.

“We want to be there at the end of the season when every race really counts and that’s where we gear our training towards,” Jennings said. “It doesn’t matter so much if we drop times at the beginning of the season if we don’t have anything left by the end when the championships start.”