BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After a 24th-place finish in a star-studded field at the Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Ky., the Lehigh men’s cross country team will travel to Hamilton, N.Y. to compete in the Patriot League Championships hosted by Colgate on the Harry H. Lang course. Lehigh will be in search of its first Patriot League Championship as the Mountain Hawks have come as close as second in 1992, falling just 21 points shy of Bucknell.
The Mountain Hawks will look to junior co-captain Tyler Mueller to lead the charge as the Pottstown, Pa. native has collected two individual wins this season, before finishing 19th overall in a field of 332 finishing runners at the 39th Annual Paul Short Run men’s Gold race. Mueller and the rest of the Mountain Hawks will compete against the premiere talent of the Patriot League that includes, along with Lehigh, three other regionally-ranked teams.
Mueller was also the top finisher in Lehigh’s latest meet, finishing 54th out of 272 competing athletes in the Mountain Hawks’ first race away from the Goodman Campus Course. The field Mueller competed against at Pre-Nationals included nine nationally-ranked squads, including No. 3 BYU and No. 9 Tulsa. It was the most competitive race the Mountain Hawks have competed in this season as it included five more nationally-ranked teams than the Paul Short Run.
The Mountain Hawks finished third last season behind a 78-point performance that placed them 20 points ahead of Army. It was their best performance since a third-place finish in 2008 in which Lehigh scored 77 points, falling 30 points short of the co-champions Navy and Army.
The only other time Lehigh has squared off against a Patriot League opponent this season, aside from the annual Dual Meet with Lafayette, was when Colgate senior Chris Johnson competed in the Paul Short Run and finished seventh, 12 spots ahead of Mueller. Mueller will get another shot at Johnson, but this time on the Raiders’ home course, as Lehigh’s junior co-captain will be looking to unseat the defending champion in his own backyard.
Sam Bernitt is the top returning runner from last year’s race, finishing 15th with a time of 25:38.90. Lyle O’Brien (25:41.20), 2012 co-captain Jimmy Miller (25:41.80) and Mueller (25:56.00) placed 17th, 18th and 25th a year ago, as each will be looking for an improved performance and that illusive Patriot League Championship.
After Saturday’s race, Lehigh will await the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Qualifiers race in University Park, Pa. on November 9 before the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky. Both races are scheduled for 12 p.m.