Lehigh to compete at Mid-Atlantic Qualifiers Friday
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – In the midst of one of its best seasons in history, the Lehigh men’s cross country team will seek to build on its Patriot League Championships performance as the Mountain Hawks compete in this Friday’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Qualifiers in University Park, Pa. at 12 p.m. Lehigh will be running in hopes for a return to Louisville, Ky. and a chance to compete at the NCAA Championships.
In their last race, the Mountain Hawks won their first Patriot League Championship in program history on the Harry H. Lang course in Hamilton, N.Y. as they pulled out a narrow two-point victory over Navy. Lehigh finished three runners inside the top 10, led by junior co-captain Jimmy Miller’s fourth-place finish in 25:41.3. Joining Miller in the top 10 were sophomore Ryan Mahalsky in fifth (25:42.8) and junior co-captain Tyler Mueller in seventh (25:47.1). Mueller’s seventh-place finish was the first time he was not the Mountain Hawks’ top performer this season, while Miller’s fourth-place finish was his best placement of the year.
The closest Lehigh had come to a championship prior to this year’s squad was a second-place finish in 1992 when the Mountain Hawks were defeated by the Bison of Bucknell by 21 points. The Mountain Hawks are currently ranked seventh in the latest USTFCCCA poll released on October 29 as Saint Joseph’s leaped over Lehigh and La Salle into fifth in the Mid-Atlantic.
Last season, Lehigh finished 11th at the Mid-Atlantic Qualifiers in Princess Anne, Md. behind a 13th-place finish by graduated senior Evans Kosgei. Miller will look to build upon his finish of 57th at last year’s event and ride the momentum from his impressive finish at the Patriot League Championships into a possible appearance at the NCAA Championships. Mueller will also be a mainstay in Lehigh’s pack, as the aggressive runner did not run at last year’s qualifiers so the junior co-captain will be looking to extend his stellar 2012 campaign.
The last Lehigh runner to qualify for the NCAA Championships was Kosgei in 2010. Prior to his 2010 appearance, Lehigh had gone through a five-year drought as Jen Schappert competed in the 2005 NCAA Championships. If any Lehigh runner should qualify for the NCAA Championships, it would be the brown and white’s second trip to Louisville, Ky. this season as the men raced at Pre-Nationals in October.
All of Friday’s action is set to begin at 12 p.m. on the campus of Penn State University in University Park, Pa. The top two finishing teams will automatically advance to the NCAA Championships in Louisville, while the remaining teams will seek "at-large" bids based on current season performances.