Posted: October 18, 2008
PRINCETON, N.J. – The Lehigh cross country teams earned some valuable experience at the Princeton Invite Saturday, as they move closer to the Patriot League and NCAA Championships. The Lehigh women earned a fifth-place finish despite competing without its top finisher in every race this year, Shannon Alejandro. On the men’s side, the Mountain Hawks finished sixth, with Jon Wetzel leading the way with a ninth-place finish at 24:33.30.
The top finisher on the women’s side for Lehigh was Alexis Weiner, who crossed the line with a time of 22:45.40. Weiner finished the race in 15th place and was a key reason for the Mountain Hawks’ success in Alejandro’s absence.
“Ultimately, as much as we wanted (Alejandro) to see the course and race against these girls, we decided to keep her out,” women’s cross country head coach Debbie Utesch said. “If it was Patriot League Championships she would have raced.”
Maryland took the women’s crown with a score of 36 points, and Patriot League foe Bucknell earned second place with 53 points. Lehigh’s 133 points were good enough to put the Brown and White in fifth place.
Erin Matyus, of Maryland, won the race with a time of 22:02.50, trailed by her teammate Kristin Reed, whose 22:11.00 finish gave the Terrapins the top two spots in the Invite.
Despite finishing behind Bucknell, Utesch said her team’s performance without its top runner shows the gap is tightening between the Bison and the Mountain Hawks.
“When I looked at the results I noticed that we actually made some progress,’ Utesch said. “Even though that score shows (Bucknell) really clocking us, I think our team is actually moving up on them.”
Princeton defended its home course on the men’s side, claiming the top spot with a score of 62 points. Lehigh’s 128 points placed them just ahead of Bucknell on the men’s side, who finished in seventh place with a score of 196.
Princeton’s Michael Maag crossed the line in 24:07.80, bringing home the title on his home course and helping the Tigers take the team crown.
While Wetzel and Dan McClimon (12th place) finished in the top 15, and Ben Lampi (27th) and Dan DeWitt (33rd) added strong finishes to the men’s team, head coach Todd Etters said he would like to see more of his runners close the gap to the top packs.
“I would have liked to see our 6-12 guys be a little bit more aggressive,” Etters said. “We just have to get a couple of those guys to take some chances and step up and have a great race.”
Lehigh takes two weeks off before returning to action at Goodman Campus for the Patriot League Championship on November 1.