Lehigh renews rivalry with Lafayette in XC action
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh will renew its annual rivalry with Lafayette on Saturday morning when the men’s and women’s cross country teams head to Easton, Pa. to take on the Leopards in a dual meet. The women’s team has defeated Lafayette in each of the last five dual meets, while the men’s squad has prevailed in 11 consecutive dual meetings.
“We take pride in being the first sport to start the annual rivalry,” Lehigh women’s head coach Debbie Utesch said. “We look at it as a great way to set the tone for the whole department.”
Last season, the women’s team edged Lafayette by three points, earning a 28-31 victory in Easton, while the men’s team raced to an emphatic 19-44 win. Senior Steve Sample placed first overall in the men’s race last year and senior Kaitlin Grimm took third overall on the women’s side.
“We walked away with an extremely close victory last year,” Utesch said. “They have a very strong team again this year, we can’t underestimate them.”
Both Lehigh teams faced Lafayette at the season-opening Lehigh Invitational and finished above the Leopards in the overall team standings. The men’s squad finished 76 points lower than their rivals, while the women’s team edged the Leopards by 27 points.
“When you talk to alums, the first race they will bring up is Lehigh and Lafayette,” men’s coach Todd Etters explained. “It’s the oldest cross country rivalry in the country. It’s a big deal, so we treat it that way.”
“For us, it’s always exciting to start the rivalry,” he continued. “We’ve beaten them eleven times in a row and we don’t want that to end.”
For the Mountain Hawks, the dual will be a preview of a course they will run again later in the year. Lafayette will host the Leopard Invitational on October 16 and the 2010 Patriot League Championship on October 30. Saturday’s dual meet will open with the women’s race at 9:30 a.m. and wrap up with the men’s race at 10:10 a.m.