Even though the Philadelphia School District postponed all of its athletic events on Friday because of the heat, the weather did not stop the Big 5 Invitational at Belmont Plateau.
Penn won both the men’s and women’s race, but event-host Temple was not far behind. The men placed third and the women finished in second place.
Their second place finish was not only good enough to beat Big 5 rival St. Joseph’s, but it was also good enough to make school history.
“We finished second on the women’s side, we’ve never finished higher than fourth here, so that was a big step,” men’s and women’s head cross country coach James Snyder said.
“That was our meet,” sophomore Katie Leisher added, “This is where we practice; Belmont is our home. It is good that we performed well.”
The sophomore finished in sixth place overall, and in second place among Temple runners.
Graduate student Marc Steinsberger and freshman Grace Moore also had big days on the course. Steinsberger finished sixth overall, while Moore came in fourth. Both were Temple’s top finishers for the men and women, respectively.
Moore finished with a time of 14:29.6, only eight-tenths of a second faster than Leisher’s time of 14:30.4. Freshman Millie Howard finished tenth.
The athletes faced the struggle of running in record high temperatures. Friday was the first day on record in September where temperatures stayed above 80 degrees for a 24-hour period in Philadelphia, according to National Weather Service data.
“We talked about the weather before the meet, we said no pity parties,” Snyder said, “We are out there to race; the weather is the same for everybody.”
“We’ve worked out in the heat for the past three weeks, so I think we were kind of prepared…you just have to deal with it,” Steinsberger added.
Dealing with the heat is exactly what he and his teammates did. The men’s team finished with a team total of 68 points, only five points behind second place finisher Villanova. Steinsberger finished with a personal time of 19:11.7.
Both teams will compete in the Rider Invitational on Sept. 16. Snyder hopes to have more runners in the event as the team prepares for the championship season.
“We got a couple girls who are banged up that didn’t race today that I know when they get back they will allow us to take an even bigger step forward,” Snyder said. “We are in a good spot.”
Teresa Sayers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tessasayers11.