EASTON, Pa. – The Mountain Hawk men’s and women’s cross country teams started this year’s rivalry with Lafayette on a strong note as both teams took first place in the Lehigh-Lafayette Dual. The men’s team ran away with the race defeating the Leopards by a score of 19-44. The women battled it out with Lafayette and were able to finish off the race strong to hold on for the 28-31 win.
Junior Steve Sample was the top finisher in the men’s race with a time of 26:25.8 and it gives him first place finishes in both of Lehigh’s races this season.
“Steve is a fiery competitor,” men’s head coach Todd Etters said. “In the first two races he has been able to shift gears half way through and take it to the competition. He is starting to look like one of the top runners in the league.”
Lafayette’s Ryan Stasiowski placed second in the men’s race with a time of 26:37.5, but Lehigh was able to dominate the rest of the race taking the next 11 spots.
Sophomore Evan Flach finished third with a time of 26:40.9 and senior captain Matt Sheridan came in fourth with a time of 26:47.9.
For the men this was the 11th straight time they have defeated Lafayette and every time it means a little more.
“To us it means a lot,” Etters said. “The last time we lost to Lafayette was my freshman year and I still remember it. We have made it a tradition that we win and we want to keep it that way.”
Lafayette was able to place the top two runners in the women’s race, but that didn’t stop Lehigh from defeating its archrival.
“I knew it was going to be a close race,” women’s head coach Debbie Utesch said. “They have very good front runners and I knew they would put tremendous pressure on our front runners.”
Senior Kaitlin Grimm was up to the challenge as she was the top finisher for the Lehigh women coming in third place overall with a time of 21:11.8. Sophomore Katherine Pierce was right behind her with a time of 21:12.3 to finish in fourth place. To help bring home the win Lehigh placed runners in spots 6-10.
It was an extra effort by Grimm in the last 1000 meters of the race that provided a big boost to the team. The senior was able to move from fifth to third to help the Mountain Hawks bring home the win. This is only Grimm’s second race in the last two years.
“I am so excited for Kaitlin because as a freshman she was Patriot League Rookie of the Year and then she missed the last two years with a stress fracture and compartment syndrome,” Utesch said. "She really didn’t start to train on a regular basis until last spring. It was definitely the Kaitlin Grimm of old out there today and she is going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
Both teams will take away a lot of positives as they prepare for the long season ahead.
“I am most excited because we had a tough week of training,” Utesch said. “I know if they can race this well after a tough week then they can get through anything.”
“Our seniors really stepped up today and we had some guys who were competing in their first race,” Etters added. “Overall we executed our strategies well and it was a good race to get ready for Paul Short in a few weeks.”
The Mountain Hawks will return to action on October 2, at 10:00 a.m. when they host the 36th annual Paul Short run on the Goodman Campus.