Coach James Snyder and the rest of his staff know last season was the best season both the men’s and women’s cross country programs have ever had.
The men’s team finished third at the American Athletic Conference championship, seventh at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional meet and won the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America cross country title. The women’s team finished third at The American’s meet, 10th at regionals and third at the Eastern College Athletic Conference meet last season.
Both teams start this season ranked in the top 10 of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Mid-Atlantic Region poll and have higher expectations for themselves than they did last season.
“Third place in the conference on the men’s side was something that we were honestly disappointed in,” Snyder said. “Before the season, finishing in the top three seemed like a really reasonable goal, but as the year went on and as we continued to build success, I really believed that we had a shot to win the title.”
Both teams started their seasons Friday at the Temple Invitational at Belmont Plateau in West Philadelphia.
Junior Millie Howard and sophomore Helene Gottlieb led the way for the women, who won their race. Howard finished first with a time of 23 minutes, 30 seconds, and Gottlieb placed right behind her with a time of 23:30.4. The Owls claimed the first five spots.
The men’s team also won its race. Louis Corgliano, a graduate transfer from the University of Maryland, won the event with a time of 26:56.9. Nine of the top 10 runners were on Temple’s squad.
Corgliano, who finished his undergraduate eligibility at the University of Maryland in the spring, received all-Big 10 Conference honors in the steeplechase last season.
“Over the years, [Corgliano] has continued to follow our progress and with one season of eligibility left, he decided to spend his fifth year with us to try and take our team to the next level,” Snyder said. “He’s definitely going to be a guy who we’ll rely on to be at the front of the pack during meets.”
Along with Corgliano, the Owls have strong runners returning on both teams. For the women’s team, senior Katie Leisher, sophomores Michelle Joyce and Lucy Jones and junior Grace Moore are all returning after strong seasons. Jones set the school’s steeplechase record, and Leisher earned all-conference honors for the second consecutive year.
Leisher, who was top seven last year, said she is aiming to be top four for the team during conferences.
Sophomore Anton Harrsen and junior Kevin Lapsansky are two runners Snyder believes can be strong contributors this year.
“Talent-wise, we have the girls to take the title this year, and we’re all dedicated and just going to continue the momentum from last year,” she added.
Lapsansky, who was an all-conference runner in 2017, is going into this season excited after seeing how the team has worked together so far.
“Our team dynamic right now is really good,” Lapsansky said. “We all have the right mindset to go and get what we want at the end of the season. If we continue the track that we’re on right now, we’re aiming to make the national meet somewhere within the next two years.”
The Owls relied heavily on former runners Katie Pinson and Marc Steinsberger last season to be at the front of the pack.
Pinson, a 2017 co-captain, earned two top-10 finishes last season and helped lead them to back-to-back wins at the Temple Invitational and the Rider Invite, the first two meets of the 2017-18 season.
Also, Steinsberger, a 2017 co-captain, was an all-conference runner after finishing 10th at The American’s championships. He also earned all-region honors for placing in the top 25.
“I honestly believe that [Steinsberger] turned this program around,” Lapsansky said. “When I was coming in as a freshman, we would’ve been even worse than we were if we didn’t have him. His talent alone gave us something to work toward and something to work with.”
Temple will continue its season on Sept. 14 in New York at the Army Invitational.