Cross country earns best-ever finishes at NCAA regional meet

Graduate student Marc Steinsberger earned all-region honors, and both the men’s and women’s teams earned top-10 finishes at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship on Friday at Lehigh University.

Graduate student Marc Steinsberger crosses the finish line of the men's 8,000-meter race at the 2017 Athletic American Conference cross country championships on Oct. 28 at Belmont Plateau. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / FILE PHOTO

Temple men’s and women’s cross country teams each earned top-10 finishes at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship on Friday at Lehigh University’s home course.

The men finished seventh out of 26 schools in the 10,000-meter race, and the women took 10th out of 28 schools.

Both finishes are the highest in program history, coach James Snyder said.

“It was a very special day for Temple and the cross country program,” Snyder said.

In a field of 180 runners, graduate student Marc Steinsberger led the men’s team with a time of 30 minutes, 54.3 seconds to finish 23rd. He earned all-region honors for placing in the top 25.

Freshman Anton Harrsen finished 32nd. Sophomore Kevin Lapsansky and redshirt sophomore David Fitzgerald crossed the finish line 2.9 seconds apart to place 48th and 49th.

Junior Katie Leisher took 32nd place with a time of 20:57.7. Sophomore Grace Moore finished three spots behind Leisher. Freshman Lucy Jones took 41st. Sophomore Millie Howard finished in 57th out of 193 runners.

“We put forward the best collective effort as a team I have seen in awhile,” Snyder said. “Having only two high placements by our runners wasn’t going to do anything. And thankfully we got much more than that.”

Sophomore Zach Seiger finished in 56th place and junior Johnathan Condly took 74th place. Freshman Kristian Jensen dealt with a nagging groin injury, Snyder said, but he still placed 79th.

“If you look at Zach, David and Kevin, you can see why we had a good day,” Snyder said. “They came out and ran a really good race, and their performance is a big reason we had a good result.”

Seiger, Fitzgerald and Lapsansky all finished at least 40 places better than their marks in last year’s regional meet. Fitzgerald placed 128th in 2016 and cracked the top 50 this year.

Snyder feels more confident in his team now than at any point in the season, he said. He expects his team to run a confident race at the IC4A Championship on Nov. 18 in New York City. The women’s team will also be at Van Cortlandt Park to run in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships.

“It is another change to run against a championship field,” Snyder said. “We will see the best of our region and the Northeast region. I am looking forward to the challenge, and I think we can still improve.”

“The great teams run their best this time of the year,” he added. “That is what we want to do. We have done a good job with minimizing what injuries can do to a team. So barring setbacks, we are going to run every at this meet and have some fun.”

Snyder is excited about the future of the program. The team will only lose Steinsberger and senior Katie Pinson after this season.

Snyder wants to see his other runners make the necessary improvements toward becoming a “championship program.”

“In two to three years this program should be winning trophies,” Snyder said. “The strides we have made as a team over the last few years show the path we are on. I expect us to be regular contenders for championships in the coming years.”

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