The men and women’s cross country teams compete at Lehigh.
With rain blanketing the Northeast this past week, Lehigh University’s Murray H. Goodman campus was left with a soft, muddy terrain. But that didn’t stop the Owls’ men and women’s cross country teams from competing in Lehigh’s annual Paul Short Invitational last Friday in Bethlehem, Pa.
“That’s why it’s cross country,” coach Eric Mobley said. “Everybody has to run in the same conditions.”
With almost 150 colleges and nearly 100 high schools competing, the course’s already swampy condition was bogged down by the hundreds of runners who competed there last Friday.
“Looking at where most of our runners were, it probably slowed them down between 40 seconds to a minute,” assistant coach Matt Jelley said. “This is usually a fast course.”
The men’s team, which competed in the men’s gold 8K race, finished 44th out of 45 and had an average time of 27 minutes and 36 seconds. Facing one of the most competitive and diverse fields of the year, the men ran with schools such as Oklahoma, Georgetown and Columbia, who finished first through third, respectively.
“This is one of the toughest races of the year,” Jelley said. “People from all over the country come to run here.”
The mud and high level of competition were not the only obstacles for the men Friday. Sophomore Will Kellar suffered the beginnings of a stress fracture and was not able to run for the Owls. Kellar, who finished second for the men in their previous meet and senior Travis Mahoney, who is redshirting this season, left the Owls without two key runners.
“It’s tough when you’re missing two of your top three guys,” Jelley said.
The men were lead by freshman Matt Kacyon, who finished 226th overall with a time of 26:35. Kacyon, who attended Whitehall High School, was familiar with the course. Whitehall is one of the high school teams that competes at the Paul Short every year.
“I’ve run here throughout my high school career,” Kacyon said. “I love this course.”
Other top performers for the men included sophomore Philip Fanz, who finished 250th overall with a time of 26:52 and senior Geoffrey Barletta, who finished 285th overall with a time of 27:28.
The women had a record-breaking performance running in the women’s Brown 6K race. Their 32nd finish as a team is the highest they’ve ever placed at the Paul Short Invitational.
Highlighting this achievement was freshman Jenna Dubrow, whose individual performance also marked a new record. Her 40th place finish is the highest for any Temple runner who had previously competed at the Lehigh race.
“I went out very fast and strong for the first mile,” Dubrow said, “I think I might have died a little bit on the back hill towards the cornfield, but overall I felt good.”
Dubrow continues to make significant strides in her abilities despite only being a freshman. Her 23:08 time Friday was 40 seconds better than her previous time at the Brother Doyle Meet of Champions last week.
Also aiding the Owls in their record breaking performance were sophomores Taylor Goldsworthy and Erin Casey, who finished 168th and 183rd with times of 24:29 and 24:37, respectively.
With the top performers on the women and men’s side both being freshman, the Owls see this early success by their underclassmen as a good indicator for the future.
“They’re able to get a year under their belt,” Mobley said. “The better they do, the better recruits can come in, and the program keeps going.”
Daniel Craig can be reached at email@example.com.