Keeping her perfect season going, senior Stephanie Case claimed first place at the Lock Haven Invitational this past weekend and led the Slippery Rock women’s cross country team to a first place finish overall.
Completing the race with a time of 21:31, there were no other collegiate runners within 16 seconds of her finish time.
On top of a stellar performance at Lock Haven last weekend, Case was named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Week on Monday.
Finishing in second overall was the Penn State XC Club, and in third place was the team from Mansfield University. A total of twelve teams and 151 runners competed in the invitational.
Crossing the line as the second Rock finisher was senior Abby Michaelian with a season best time of 23:01, placing herself sixth among the competition.
Being her last season as a Slippery Rock cross country athlete, Michaelian says there is a sort of finality to this season and this is her chance to leave her mark on the team.
“I don’t think I have necessarily hit my peak yet, because so far, this has been my best season,” Michaelian said. “I think we still have some work to do as a team before PSACs, but we definitely can compete with the top teams. With everyone healthy, we definitely have a chance to make it to nationals.”
Sophomore Shannon Byerly was the third Rock runner, running 23:32 and placing 16th. Senior Kara Styles was shortly after her in 17th place with a time of 23:35. Senior Jordan Hausladen capped the scoring with a 26th place finish in 24:07.
The top five runners completed the race within 2:37 of each other, as well as having four of the top five being seniors.
Freshmen Jenny Picot and Brittany Fagan placed 28th and 29th, posting times of 24:10 and 24:12, respectively.
Styles is coming off an injury sustained last spring during the track season, with this race being her first competitive action in nearly five months.
Head coach John Papa was excited about his team’s performance against a large amount of conference opponents and feels strongly about the team and their potential for the rest of the season.
“You’ve got to be happy with how we did. Mansfield is ranked 27th nationally, so to beat them is a great sign,” Papa said. “Having Kara come back from her injury and finish so well was a great sign too. She’s an extremely courageous runner and every time she goes out there she gives it her all.”
The next competition for the Green and White will be the SRU Invitational held at Coopers Lake on October 6.