Temple men’s and women’s cross country teams each earned top-three finishes in their events on Saturday at Van Cortlandt Park in New York.
The men took first place at the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of American (IC4A) Championships for their first team win since Sept. 29 and fourth team win of the season. The women finished third at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships. Both events had fields of 25 schools.
“It was another historic meet for us as a program,” coach James Snyder said. “This is our highest finish on both sides in our history. It is a credit to our runners work throughout the season.”
In last year’s IC4A Championships, the men finished eighth. Graduate student Marc Steinsberger improved his time by 43 seconds. Sophomore Kevin Lapsansky finished 44 places higher than he did in 2016’s race.
The women finished 16 spots higher than they did at the ECAC Championships in 2016. The Owls had four runners in the top 30 Saturday. They didn’t have any last year.
“We came in this year a different team,” Snyder said. “At this race last year we didn’t run nearly as good as we did today. We came into this meet knowing we could place at the top of the results.”
Snyder said he knew his runners would place well because of their recent momentum.
The men’s team placed seventh out of 26th schools at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional meet on Nov. 10. The team earned its best all-time finish at the event. The women’s team placed 10th out of 28 schools at the event to also earn its best placing ever.
In a field of 203 runners, the men had five top-15 finishers on Saturday. In his last cross country meet with Temple, Steinsberger won the five-mile race with a time of 25 minutes, 10.4 seconds.
Freshman Anton Harrsen finished fifth, and his classmate Kristian Jensen placed 10th. Lapsansky and sophomore David Fitzgerald took 13th and 14th, respectively. Fitzgerald finished less than three seconds behind Lapsansky.
“I am happy how Kristian ran today,” Snyder said. “He went through some freshman struggles lately with a nagging groin, but he was ready to [go] today. He was a huge boost for us.”
Junior Katie Leisher took 11th place in the women’s 5,000-meter race with a time of 18:15.1. Freshman Lucy Jones placed 14th, and sophomore Grace Moore finished behind her in 17th. Senior Katie Pinson placed 28th in her last cross country race as an Owl.
“Our goal with the women from the beginning was to have interchanging parts,” Snyder said. “It is nice to be able to have five to six different runners you feel can be your best on any given day. It shows the strength of this unit, and that is why we had a good year.”
With the cross country season completed, Snyder is shifting his team’s focus to the indoor track & field season.
“It is all about rest now,” Snyder said. “All we are going to worry about is having some downtime to make sure we are full strength come time to run indoors. All this hard work can go to waste if we don’t take care of our bodies. So that is focus number one.”
“I am extremely happy what we did this season,” he added. “I wanted it to be a historic year, and it was. We want to carry this momentum all the way through to spring track. Only way to do that is enjoy the moment right now, rest up and come back ready to win even more.”