Slippery Rock finished first overall for the second straight race with a win at the Lock Haven University Invitational Saturday, with 19 total schools and 258 individual runners in competition.
SRU finished with 64 points in a tie with Misericordia University for first place in the standings. The Penn State University club team finished third with a total of 148 points, with Susquehanna University following at 158 points. West Virginia Wesleyan College rounded out the top five with a final of 174 points.
“I believe that our runners were both physically and mentally ready to perform at a high level on Saturday. As the season is unfolding we are gaining more confidence in what we can do as a team,” head coach John Papa said. “Each week I think we will be better prepared for the PSAC Championships that will be held on our course on October 24.”
Leah Anne Wirfel continued her success with another first overall finish, her third straight first overall finish as she finished the 6,000-meter race with a time of 20:51. She also received the PSAC Athlete of the Week award last week.
“Leah Anne has stayed focused and competed well,” Papa said. “She knows that there is plenty of stiff competition on the way next month.”
Rounding out the top 10 with a time of 22:18 was the second Rock finisher, Jenny Picot. Melissa Rains followed in 18th place at 22:46, and the fourth finisher for SRU was Alexis Swiergol with a time of 22:50. Caitlyn Janeda finished the scoring for the Rock with a 27th place finish at 23:00.
“When there are more teams in the race the runners need to be a bit more aggressive at the start in order to get into good position early in the race,” Papa said. “Also, during the race there is more passing, so athletes need to stay focused on running and competing.”
The sixth Slippery Rock finisher was Mattie Dunham with a time of 23:13 and 34th overall, followed by 41st overall finisher Kaylee Haberkam with a time of 23:27 finishing seventh for the Rock.
Coach Papa believes there may be three or four teams that are potentially ranked higher than SRU in the PSAC as the team still waits for the rankings to be released.
The Rock will have the weekend off as they prepare for the Mack Cooper Invitational on Oct. 10. The race is set to take place at Cooper’s Lake Campground, the site of the PSAC Championships which will occur on Oct. 24.
“We will use this last race as a building block for the PSAC Championships,” Papa said. “It will be another great opportunity to get more experience and become prepared for the outstanding teams and competition at the PSAC Championships.”