After taking a week off, the men’s and women’s cross country team traveled to Lehigh University on Saturday to compete in the Paul Short Invitational.
The Invitational was their largest race of the season so far. The men competed against 38 other schools and 336 other runners, while the women competed against 45 other schools and 405 other runners.
Overall, the men finished in 27 place and the women tied for 30 with Monmouth University.
“We were in a field today that was three times the size of the field we have been in far this year,” coach James Snyder said. “I think for a lot of our younger kids it was their first time running in a field this size, and that presented some unique challenges. You’re trying to find your position and you’re trying to navigate around that wastes a lot of energy.”
The men’s team was once again led by transfer student Marc Steinsberger.
Steinsberger finished first for the Owls and 61st overall. He was the only runner on the men’s team to make it in the Top 100.
Temple’s next top finishers were freshmen Zach Seiger (147) and Kevin Lapsansky (178) and sophomore Tyji Mays (182).
While the men’s team didn’t do as well as Snyder would have liked, they were also faced with the challenges of running without sophomore standout Ben Evans.
The invite was the Owls’ first race without Evans who is out for the remainder of the season with a leg injury.
“Ben was a guy we were definitely going to rely on,” Snyder said. “Not having him here, we weren’t at one hundred percent.”
On the other hand, the women’s team had the advantage of having one of their top runners, freshman Grace Moore, back after she sat out the Rider Invitational due to a nagging ankle injury.
“Grace ran our first two races as our top girl and ran today as our number two,” Snyder said. “Having her back was definitely a big difference maker for our team.”
While Moore had an impressive showing in her first 6K, finishing 128th overall and second for Temple, it was sophomore Katie Leisher who stole the show.
Not only did Leisher finish 54th overall and first for Temple, but she also set a personal record.
“Katie was a huge highlight,” Snyder said. “She had a huge personal best today and was top 50 or 60 of really national caliber field; she raced like a veteran.”
Freshmen Millie Howard also had a nice race, finishing third for Temple and 149th overall.
Howard, along with Moore and Leisher, ran the fastest times on the course out of any girl Temple history, with the exception of alumna Blanca Fernandez who won the race in 2015.
With a month until the conference championships, the team is looking to continue to grow after this performance.
“I was a little disappointed with how we competed in a big environment,” Snyder said. “We need to do a better job of committing to our race plan and being able to work together.. But we are going to go back to the drawing board and getting ready to go when it matters most.”
Teresa Sayers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tessasayers11.