BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The men’s cross country team extended its streak to 14 consecutive dual meet victories over Lafayette on Friday night with a 16-47 victory over the rival Leopards. Junior co-captain Tyler Mueller won his second consecutive race to start the 2012 season, finishing the 8K run in 24:54 as the Mountain Hawks took four of the first five places narrowly missing a perfect score.
"I thought we ran really tough," said head coach Todd Etters. "It’s a great rivalry but I thought our guys kept composed and really pushed as hard as I could have asked them to so that was great to see."
Following Mueller was junior Sam Bernitt, crossing the line in 25:02 for second place along with sophomore Ryan Mahalsky (25:06) in third and senior Lyle O’Brien (25:09) in fourth. The Mountain Hawks narrowly missed a perfect score as 2012 junior co-captain Jimmy Miller crossed the line in sixth place at 25:31.
With the win, Lehigh extended its winning streak to 14 straight dual meets over rival Lafayette. Coach Etters knew that tradition and history would be on display tonight but also realized that his team needed to stay in the moment throughout the race.
"We never try to look at it as what we have done in the past," said Etters. "We always try to look at it as what did we do today. The guys, to their credit, came in ready to race and they executed the plan perfectly."
Mueller has now won the first two meets to start the 2012 season, following up his first-place finish at the Lehigh Invitational with a win in his first 2012 8K race. The co-captain has proved he will be a driving force behind the performance of his team this fall and has shown the leadership qualities desired in a captain.
"Tyler has really shown that he is capable of being amongst some of the top guys in the league," said Etters. "A couple of times today he just looked completely comfortable and completely in control. It’s great to see a guy that works that hard and has that kind of talent, be as mentally tough as he is."
His counterpart, co-captain Jimmy Miller has also shown his ability to lead the pack and turn in consistent performances as his sixth-place finish exemplifies. For now, Lehigh will enjoy the win but with the 2012 Paul Short Run looming, Etters realizes that it will be back to work shortly.
"For them I know they’re proud to extend the streak, but now it’s on to the next meet," said Etters.
Lehigh will host the 39th Annual Paul Short Run, presented by Brooks, on Sept. 28. The race will begin with the college open races starting at 10 a.m., while the men’s Gold 8K race is slated for 11 a.m.