BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh women’s track team will look to carry momentum gained after a 97-84 victory over archrival Lafayette last Saturday into this weekend’s New Balance Collegiate Invitational and John Covert Classic. The Mountain Hawks will split the team into two groups for the meets, as the NB Collegiate Invitational will take place in New York City, while the John Covert Classic will begin at 10 a.m. inside Rauch Fieldhouse.
"When we split up the team, it puts a little stress on the staff and that sometimes follows to the team, but the goal of this weekend is seed times," said Lehigh head coach Matt Utesch. "We’re aiming to run fast, jump high and throw far so that we pick up some good qualifying marks for the Patriot League Championships."
Lehigh registered 11 wins out of the 17 events for the 97-84 victory, retaining the Bryan Mundy Trophy for yet another year. The Mountain Hawks’ performance was highlighted by Brooke Astor’s 8.78 mark in the 60 meter hurdles which set a new school record, breaking Justine Barone’s mark of 8.82 which was set in 2003.
Also turning in an impressive performance was E’Lana Lemon, eclipsing her previous Patriot League best throw of 17.95m with a toss of 18.10m which brought home the victory in the weight throw and set a new facilities record. Senior Julia Perry excelled in the won the mile in decisive fashion, finishing about 17 seconds ahead of the rest of the field after crossing the line in 5:03.55.
"Last weekend is done and over," said Utesch. "It’s always good to win and we certainly enjoy winning that meet, but the girls know they have work to do. That meet was not our season and to reach the goals that we want to meet as a team we have to have seed times."
The Mountain Hawks will now turn their attention to this weekend’s meets as the New Balance Collegiate Invitational will be filled with a rigorous field of competition including 13 of the top 25 teams in the nation, highlighted by No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Kansas, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Arkansas, No. LSU, No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 7 Florida, among others.
"The Armory is built as one of the fastest tracks in the world so hopefully the atmosphere, energy and competition will help us to some solid times," said Utesch.
Last year, Lehigh set two school records at the meet as Savanna Plombon broke the 3000 meter run record with a time of 9:55.83, finishing 10th at the Invitational. Also, knocking a name off the record board was the distance medley team of Jessica Kendzor, Elizabeth McManus, Lauren Pietrosh and Julia Perry after they crossed the line in fifth with a time of 11:57.24, which also qualified them for the ECAC’s.
Beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday will be the 21st John Covert Classic inside Rauch Fieldhouse. The Classic will include Moravian, Muhlenberg, Delaware, Shippensburg, Alvernia, West Chester, Kutztown and Messiah along with the Mountain Hawks.
"We’re three weeks from the Championships and are starting to peak," said Utesch. "This is the first weekend of lightening training and doing more speed work. We’re all expecting faster times and better marks."
At last year’s Classic, the Mountain Hawks posted three first place finishes, highlighted by Catherine Tobiasen’s victory in the 800 meter run with a time of 2:21.52 as five Mountain Hawks placed in the top six spots.
After Saturday’s action is completed, Lehigh will have just one meet remaining before the Patriot League Championships. The Mountain Hawks will take part in the Lafayette Rider Winter Games on February 8 before the Patriot League Championships take place in West Point, N.Y. on February 15.