BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh women’s cross country team was hoping to use its momentum from a great finish from the 2010 season. And that’s exactly what they did in the first race of 2011 as the Mountain Hawks took first place at Friday’s 6K Lehigh Invitational. Lehigh placed seven runners inside the top 13 as freshman Savanna Plombon led the way for the Mountain Hawks finishing second with a time of 22:05.50.
“I’m pretty excited about what I saw today,” said Lehigh head coach Debbie Utesch. “It was a different look for us and we put some pressure on other people to see who was going to step up. The upperclassmen did a tremendous job and the freshmen showed they are ready to be in the mix so I think that’s some great stuff to build on.”
Following Plombon was freshmen Shannon Nelson in sixth (22:57.40), Hannah Pierce in eighth (23:01.60), senior Carolyn Morse in ninth, and sophomore Katherine Howley, junior Tori Berard and sophomore Jessica Kendzor in 11th through 13th respectively.
“We were very specific putting people in one of two packs,” said Utesch. “It was great to see the packs together right where they needed to be. It gave us some good glimpses with how we are going to match up for the rest of the season.”
Lehigh was without frontrunner senior Katherine Pierce and Utesch was really happy with what she saw from the freshmen class.
“We knew we had some good freshmen in the mix but it was just a matter of how they make the transition to the 6K,” she said. “It was really good to see.”
Patriot League-foe Lafayette finished in second with 67 points. Kutztown was third (97), West Chester fourth (112), Muhlenberg fifth (157), LaSalle sixth (178), DeSales seventh (195) and Moravian ninth (204).
Junior Kristina Koutsouros from West Chester won the race with a time of 21:44.60
While regional power LaSalle didn’t race most of its top runners, the race did give Lehigh a chance to see where they matched up against rival Lafayette.
“We are always very interested in what Lafayette has and where we match up with them,” said Utesch. “But it is still very early in the season and there is long way to go. It’s an endurance sport and we still have to keep working on things.”
Lehigh now has two weeks until it races again when it travels to compete in the Iona Meet of Champions on September 17 at 9:30 a.m. at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y. The high-powered race will give Lehigh a chance to see where they stack up in the region.