BETHLEHEM, Pa. – For the second consecutive year, the Lehigh men’s cross country team won the 6K Lehigh Invitational on Friday. The Mountain Hawks placed six runners in the top 10 including the first five places for a perfect score of 15. Sophomore Jimmy Miller took first with a time of 18:45.80.
“I’m very pleased,” said Lehigh head coach Todd Etters. “There was some stuff I was hoping to see and then there were some surprises. Our goal was to get five runners in the top 10 and we got one better than that so I was very happy.”
Following Miller was senior Evan Flach with a time of 18:46.50. Senior Evans Kosgei took third (18:46.70), sophomore Sam Bernitt placed fourth (18:52.50) and sophomore Tyler Mueller was fifth (18:52.80). Freshman Ryan Mahalsky finished ninth with a time of 19:04.20.
With three sophomores and a freshman running at the same level as seniors Flach and Kosgei, Etters was impressed with what he saw from the group.
“It was great to see Jimmy at that level of our two senior-co captains,” said Etters. “Our two sophomores executed their race strategy perfectly and were able to sneak in there and get fourth and fifth for us. It’s always cool when you can have five guys control a race like that.”
Lehigh had another four runners place in the top 20 as senior Dan Solton finished 15th, freshmen Casey Gilboy and Simon Voorhees finished 16th and 18th respectively while sophomore Ryan Knouse rounded out the group in 20th.
LaSalle finished second with a total score of 84 while Patriot League-foe Lafayette placed third with a score of 106. DeSales (126) was fourth, Kutztown (127) was fifth while Muhlenberg (134) and Moravian (134) tied in sixth place and West Chester University was eighth (211).
With regional power LaSalle – who rested some of their top runners - and rival Lafayette in the mix, Lehigh got a chance to see where they matched up. But no matter what team will be racing alongside the Mountain Hawks, Etters says his team is focused on only themselves.
“This year we are focused on controlling what we can control and that’s our own race,” he said. “If we can go out and race like this all season long I think we’ll be in really good shape.”
Lehigh now has two weeks until it races again when it travels to compete in the Iona Meet of Champions on September 17 at 10:15 a.m. at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y.
“The next couple of weeks, we are just going to focus on staying healthy which we are right now,” said Etters. “We are going to keep the mileage up and the quality and if we can do that, we’ll be in good shape when we get to Iona.”
That race will be an 8K, which is the guy’s more natural distance and Etters believes that how the team did in Friday’s 6K could be a good indication of things to come.
“We went out a little faster than I expected in the first part of the race, but that’s a good thing because in two weeks, that’s the way it’s going to be,” said Etters. “We won’t be controlling the pace up front, but ideally if we can maintain the pace we had over an extra 2K, we’d be very happy with that.”