By George Tatoris Staff Writer
As foreboding rain swept the East Coast this Friday, over 100 of the region’s finest cross country teams, scattered across all three Divisions, gathered at Lehigh University for its renowned Paul Short Invitational.
The College’s women’s team was among those competitors.
“This is the biggest meet on the East Coast,” coach Justin Lindsey said. “They have three college sections with 45 teams of 10 athletes in each section.”
The women’s cross country team ran a strong race: the Lions finished 18th out of 45 teams — beating out nine Division I programs — with a total of 424 points.
They were the sixth highest Division III team out of 18 and had the same amount of points as Division I contender, Siena College.
Division I Saint Joseph’s University finished in first with 166 points.
The Lions ran in the Brown section, the second toughest of the three (Gold, Brown and White).
According to Coach Lindsey, the coaches and captains of the men’s team decided not to compete in the Paul Short this year.
Andrew Tedeschi, a junior on the men’s team, said the decision was made to give the men a break before other competitive meets.
The most common problem for the hundreds of young runners that would compete in these races was the muddied course, but that did not deter the fastest Lion of the race, freshman Erin Holzbaur.
“Cross country is truly about running through any type of weather,” Holzbaur said. “Finishing the race covered in mud proves that you worked even harder.”
Holzbaur took 27th out of 385 runners with a finishing time of 22:10. She was the fifth Division III runner overall.
“I knew it was going to be a highly competitive race and that I had to have a fast start to be in a good position,” Holzbaur said.
Behind Holzbaur, fellow freshman Madeline Tattory placed 67th with a time of 22:39. The last Lion to finish in the top 100 was freshman Abigail Faith, who took 92nd place with a time of 22:53.
Behind this freshman trio, junior Laura Straub finished 117th with a time of 23:05.
Just behind Straub, two freshmen — Natalie Cooper and Alyssa Kramer — crossed the finish line in tandem to take 121st and 122nd place, respectively, both with times of 23:07.
All five Lions finished in just under a minute of each other— only four other teams in the top 20 finishers had shorter spreads.
Short spreads are a result of the Lions’ pack running, which both the men’s and women’s teams stress during training. Running together helps the Lions boost morale and gather points at big meets such as the Paul Short.
“Heading into the meet I felt we had a strong chance to improve on our pack running,” Lindsey said. “And I believe we accomplished that today.”
It wasn’t just that the team had a great showing at the meet, as many Lions broke personal records on Lehigh’s course.
“I think overall we had a great showing, all most everyone ran their season best times,” Holzbaur said. “The meet definitely made everyone excited for the championship season.”