BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The men’s and women’s cross country teams defended their home course Friday evening as they opened the 2009 season on a high note, winning the Lehigh Valley Championship. The men’s team ran the table in its race winning with a score of 19 which was 67 points better than DeSales who finished with 86. The Mountain Hawk women earned a score of 35 which was 21 points better than archrival Lafayette who finished second.
Junior Steve Sample won the men’s race with a time of 18:45.0 just narrowly edging out teammate Jordan Inacio, who finished at 18:49.6 while sophomore Katherine Pierce was Lehigh’s top female finisher, coming in second in the women’s race with a time of 22:45.4.
The men finished with eight of the top 10 times in the race and many of the runners were new faces in the Mountain Hawk lineup.
“There were a lot of new faces that stepped up today,” men’s head coach Todd Etters said. “For Steve Sample it was his first cross country victory.”
The women placed five runners in the top 12; it was a great sign of the depth the team has heading into the season.
“I was very pleased with the freshmen, all four ran well,” women’s head coach Debbie Utesch said. “It was great to see Kaitlin Grimm back in the lineup and Katherine Pierce continues to show that she will be one of the top runners in the Patriot League.”
For both cross country teams this race served as a great indication of what they still need to work on before taking the course again in a few weeks against Lafayette.
“We're going to have to make some adjustments,” Utesch said. “Lafayette will be a tough challenge, but we’re going to be shifting our training to better prepare us for the rest of the season.”
“On our end we're a pack team and I’m happy we kept the pack together for most of the race,” Etters said. “We’re going to have to make our pack a little tighter through the finish as we progress this season.”
Both teams will have a few days to rest and then it will be back to the grind as they prepare for the Lehigh-Lafayette Dual on September 19 in Easton. The runners will hit the starting line at 10:00 a.m.