UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Lehigh women’s cross country team finished 13th out of 29 teams with 390 points at the Penn State National Invitational on Friday morning. Senior Katherine Pierce led the way for the Mountain Hawks with a 32nd place finish out of 193 runners and a time of 22:24 while freshman Savanna Plombon placed 54th with a time of 22:58.
“They [Pierce and Plombon] continue to be solid front runners for us,” said head coach Debbie Utesch. "We went out really hard to start the race but I think we faded a little. We succumbed to the conditions a little as four of our 10 girls went down during the race.”
After Pierce and Plombon, sophomore Jessica Kendzor finished 97th with a time of 23:49. Kendzor was one of those four who fell, but considering the tough conditions she recovered nicely.
“Jessica had an amazing race going and then fell in the second half,” said Utesch. “The result on paper wasn’t where she was racing before that fall happened, but I really think she is on the verge of busting out.”
After Kendzor, senior Amanda Gosselin placed 103rd (23:53), freshman Shannon Wright was right behind her in 104th (23:54), sophomore Marissa Galante was 111th (23:59) and freshman Shannon Nelson was 119th (23:59). Other Mountain Hawks that competed were junior Samantha Anderson who tied Nelson in 119th place, sophomore Hannah Pierce (131st – 24:30) and senior Carolyn Morse (134th – 24:34).
West Virginia, which was nationally ranked No. 19 entering the race, took first place with 45 points and had four runners inside the Top 11. UConn placed second with 70 points edging out host Penn State which finished third with 77 points.
West Virginia senior Kate Harrison won the race with a time of 20:50.
The race gave Lehigh a good chance to see where they matched up against a pair of Patriot League opponents. Bucknell finished in 11th place while Cogate was in 14th.
“Bucknell squeaked by us and we just squeaked by Colgate,” said Utesch. “But we beat Bucknell back at the Paul Short Run so the Patriot League Championship is really setting up to be a battle.”
While Lehigh’s 10 runners had a successful race Friday, another group of Mountain Hawks will be running at the Lafayette Invitational Saturday at 10:45 a.m. It will be the final race of the season before the Patriot League Championship which Lehigh will host on the Goodman Campus Course Saturday, October 29th at noon.