BETHELHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh women’s cross country team won its eighth straight dual meet against rival Lafayette by a final score of 17-46 on Friday night on the Goodman Campus Course, including a win by senior Julia Perry, who crossed the line in 22:35. The Mountain Hawks finished four of the first five runners on Friday night and finished nine of the top 10 athletes on the 6K course. Perry’s win was the first of her collegiate career in her first ever collegiate run, as the senior showed that inexperience can translate to dominance.
"It’s always good to walk out of this meet with a win," said head coach Debbie Utesch. "I think we did it in a pretty dominant fashion."
Through their new team dynamic, the Mountain Hawks were able to display patience and performance, exemplified by the nine top 10 finishers on Friday night. Lehigh seems to be hitting its stride which has excited Utesch immensely.
"It’s very exciting to see the women’s line-up juggling around and one of the biggest things we were excited about this year was not having that pecking order," said Utesch. "We brought some new people into the mix and they did a tremendous job as our top five and our top seven runners changed showing that we’ve got a lot of depth to work with."
Following Perry, junior Hannah Pierce finished second (22:46), while sophomores Shannon Nelson (22:47) and Ingrid Simon (22:59) placed third and fifth, respectively.
With the win, Lehigh’s streak of consecutive victories over Lafayette in dual meets reached eight. The Mountain Hawks also set the foundation for the track team as Utesch explains.
"It’s a huge part of what we set out to do every year," said Utesch. "We’re not just setting the example for our cross country team’s program and trying to extend that streak, but we’re also trying to set up our track team as some of these cross country runners will be very viable members of the indoor/outdoor track and field season in a few months."
Lehigh Hall of Fame coach John Covert was on hand for the annual dual and enjoys coming out to support not only the Mountain Hawks but the overall aspect of the Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry.
"You don’t get too many situations with schools this close and similar in what they do and how they handle their students which makes for a fantastic rivalry," said Covert. "They compete tremendously against one another in college and then they get married, go into business together and they carry the successes from each institution. It’s a fabulous thing to watch."
Lehigh will take to the course again when the Mountain Hawks host the 39th Annual Paul Short Run, presented by Brooks, on Sept. 28. The event will start at 10 a.m. with the college open races, while the women’s college Gold 6K race is set to begin at 11:45 a.m.