BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Fresh off its first place victory at the Lehigh Invitational on Aug. 31, the Lehigh men’s cross country team is seeking to defend its 13-straight dual meet winning streak against Lafayette when the Mountain Hawks host the Leopards this Friday on the Goodman Campus Course at 6:20 p.m. Junior co-captain Tyler Mueller won the Lehigh Invitational after finishing with a time of 18:24.70, while Lehigh placed three runners in the top five. For his efforts, Mueller earned Honorable Mention in the Patriot League’s Cross Country Weekly Awards for the week ending on Sept. 2.
"I want to see the guys run hard," said head coach Todd Etters. "It’s the first 8K of the season for them and I expect them to be in packs and helping each other out throughout the race but I do expect Tyler (Mueller) to take charge. He won the last race and is more than capable of doing that again."
The Mountain Hawks hope to ride their momentum after finishing with an overall score of 29 points at the Lehigh Invitational, 85 points lower than second place finisher Lafayette. Along with Mueller, sophomore Ryan Mahalsky (18:35.00) and senior Lyle O’Brien (18:37.37) finished in the top five, crossing the line fourth and fifth, respectively.
"I feel very good about going against Lafayette," said Etters. "We just saw them two weeks ago so I don’t think there will be too many surprises. We’ve had a great month of training since we’ve been back so I think it’s a great way to test ourselves and see where we’re at."
Last year, Lehigh coasted to a 15-50 victory over Lafayette as the Mountain Hawks took the first eight places at the dual. Junior Sam Bernitt won the race as a sophomore with a time of 26:30.30, while five more of the top eight runners from last season’s meet will return for Lehigh. Mueller, O’Brien, Mahalsky, Casey Gilboy and 2012 co-captain Jimmy Miller finished in the top eight and will be among the Mountain Hawks to team with Bernitt in hopes of beating the Leopards for a 14th consecutive year.
"I think it (the 13 consecutive victories) just proves how consistent we’ve been over the years and it also proves that we take this meet very seriously," said Etters. "I don’t think Friday will be any different."
Lafayette’s Will Volkmann (18:30.83) was the first Leopard to cross the line at the 2012 Lehigh Invitational, finishing in third place as the only Leopard to finish in the top 10. Lafayette’s next highest finisher was sophomore Andrew Haff (19:26:21) who crossed the line in 21st place. Volkmann could provide an obstacle to the Mountain Hawks as he finished 16th (27:27.40) at last year’s dual meet, becoming the third Lafayette runner to finish in 2011.
After the dual meet against Lafayette on Friday, the Mountain Hawks will host the 39th Annual Paul Short Run, presented by Brooks, on Sept. 28. The all-day event will begin at 10 a.m. with college open races and the men’s college gold 8K will begin at 11 a.m.