BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh women’s track and field team turned in several ECAC-qualifying marks as the squad split for the weekend to travel to the New Balance Collegiate Invitational in New York City, while also hosting the 21st Annual John Covert Classic inside Rauch Fieldhouse. The Classic was highlighted by two wins by Lehigh and multiple top 10 performances in a field consisting of nine competitors.
"The plan is coming together," said Lehigh head coach Matt Utesch. "We lightened up on them this week and they are doing what we need them to do out there. We’ve had several kids set personal records and we’re going to be in pretty good shape when we get to the Patriot League Championships."
At the New Balance Collegiate Invitational, senior Lauren Pietrosh crossed the line in the 1000m with an ECAC-qualifying time of 2:55.56 which was good for 24th place on the day. She was followed by senior Brittany Pietrosh with a time of 2:59.07 which was good for 36th place.
In the mile, senior Julia Perry posted a time of 5:03.48 for a 26th place finish in the field of 51 runners. Freshman Elizabeth Weiler placed 18th out of the field of 37 runners in the 3000 meter run after crossing the line in 10:32.40, while junior Hannah Pierce finished in 23rd after posting a time of 10:35.60.
Senior Victoria Berard was the top Lehigh finisher in the 5000 meter run after placing 16th with a time of 17:43.17 out of the field of 35 competitors. Fellow senior Kathleen Ryan was the top Mountain Hawk in the 800 meter run (2:21.50) finishing 54th in the field of 77 runners.
In the distance medley relay, the Mountain Hawks placed ninth out of the 21 teams with a time of 11:53.06, crossing the line just behind the top-ranked Clemson Tigers.
Junior Brooke Astor was the top performing Mountain Hawk in the high jump, posting a height of 5.00m for a 53rd place finish, while sophomore Serenah Polite finished 59th with a height of 4.92m.
Senior E’Lana Lemon continued to impress in the weight throw, topping her previous best of 18.10m with an ECAC-qualifying throw of 18.16m, good for an 11th place finish out of the field of 51 competitors.
"She made technical improvements and as she applies that technique, she is able to throw farther," said Utesch. "As she gets through the season, her throws should improve because her technique has been worked on and refined, combined with her freshness."
The New Balance Invitational was made up of 13 of the top 25 teams in the nation, including the top seven teams (No. 1 No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Kansas, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Arkansas, No.5 LSU, No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 7 Florida).
At the Classic, Lauren Pietrosh returned to Bethlehem to take the top spot in the 500 meter dash, crossing the line in 1:18.25, while teammate and fellow senior Elizabeth McManus finished second with a time of 1:20.85.
Brittany Pietrosh also pulled out a victory at the Classic, winning the 800 meter run with time of 2:19.81 defeating 32 other runners. On the field side, Polite posted a distance of 10.93 in the triple jump for a third place finish.
"Winning is always good and it is always good for your confidence," said Utesch. "Winning, combined with running fast, jumping high and throwing far is even better. We are doing some of that and so the system is working. Our kids are becoming more confident."
Polite and Wardle cracked the top 10 in the long jump, placing eighth and ninth with jumps of 5.07m and 5.05m, respectively. Wardle also competed in the high jump, placing third with a jump of 1.55m.
This year’s Classic consisted of Moravian, Muhlenberg, Delaware, Shippensburg, Alvernia, West Chester, Kutztown, Messiah and Lafayette along with the host Mountain Hawks.
Lehigh will now compete at the Lafayette Rider Winter Games at the New York Armory on Friday, February 8 in what will be the final meet before the Patriot League Championships in West Point, N.Y.