UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Lehigh men’s and women’s cross country teams posted strong performances at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships on Saturday, finishing ninth and 15th, respectively. Leading the way was senior Evans Kosgei, who placed 13th to become eligible for a possible NCAA at-large selection. He hopes to become Lehigh’s first-ever NCAA qualifier in the current format.
“That’s the best a Lehigh runner has ever done at the regional race,” said men’s head coach Todd Etters when speaking of Kosgei’s performance. “I couldn’t be more proud of him. He ran a tremendous race, passing five guys in the last 600 meters. He really got it done.”
Kosgei now awaits Sunday evening’s announcement of NCAA at-large bids. The top two teams and four individuals per region automatically qualify while teams and individuals (who finished in the top 25) are eligible for at-large bids.
Senior Andrew Jervis was the next men’s player to cross the finish line, placing 73rd with a time of 32:11. Senior Steve Sample finished 95th (32:46), followed by freshman Jimmy Miller (104th, 32:59), junior Evan Flach (123rd, 33:24), freshman Sam Bernitt (146th, 34:16) and freshman Tyler Mueller (154th, 34:41).
“We were regionally ranked 15th going in and wound up 15th,” said Etters. “I’m proud of the guys. I thought the guys fought tough and ran great as a pack.
Meanwhile, the women bounced back from a tough Patriot League Championship with a well-balanced performance.
“It was an outstanding race,” said women’s head coach Debbie Utesch. “That’s our second highest NCAA Regional finish since I’ve been here.
“They just ran awesome,” she continued. “They went out really tough, fast and aggressively and put themselves in good position. They scrapped and fought for every point. To get top 10 in the region is a prenominal performance.”
Junior Katherine Pierce led the charge, finishing just outside the top 25 which would have qualified her for a possible NCAA at-large selection. She finished her best NCAA regional performance in 27th with a time of 21:34.
Also cracking the top 100 was senior Andrea Mascaro (64th, 22:27), freshman Jessica Kendzor (68th, 22:33), freshman Katherine Howley (78th, 22:42) and senior Kaitlin Grimm (85th, 22:47). Freshman Hannah Pierce and senior Alexis Williams rounded out a strong top-to-bottom finish for the Mountain Hawks, with times of 23:30 and 23:33, respectively.
“I’m really proud of the women,” said Utesch. “They scrapped and fought. It was a great race for us because we had fallen out of the [regional] rankings and weren’t even ranked in the top 15.”
Kosgei will now await the NCAA's announcement of the at-large bids announced on Sunday evening. The NCAA Championships are scheduled for Nov. 22 at Indiana State.