The SRU women’s cross-country team competed in the Divison II/III Challenge in Kutztown, PA Saturday. The team did not know where exactly they fit in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) this season, so this race was important to determine how they fit in this year.
“This was a fact-finding race. Most of those teams we had not seen before,” SRU head coach John Papa said. “None of our runners have ever run that course.”
The team ended up placing 12th amongst 20 teams in the 6,000-meter race, with sophomore Courtney Group leading the team with an 18th place finish and a time of 23.43.8. Following her lead was freshman Makaila Banka (24:25.8), junior Matti Dunham (24:58.7), junior Caitlyn Janeda (25:07.7), senior Kaylee Haberkam (25:30.2).
Behind the five scorers were freshmen Lindsee Zimmer (25:399.5) and April Miller (25:44.4).
Papa said the extra 1000 meters is about four to five more minutes of running than the team typically races.
“It was a little tough on some of the girls but we’re going to be significantly more ready next time,” Papa said.
The team’s top runner, junior Melissa Rains, twisted her knee and did not finish the race, Papa said. Also, their number three runner Jordyn Hackett did not compete due to currently recovering from an injury.
“That set us way back,” Papa said. “We got beat by several PSAC teams but I am thinking once we get those runners back we are going to be a significantly better team. “
The team will hit this same course again October 22 for the Conference meet.
“We definitely have a long way to go to beat some of those teams. I am not saying were going to beat all of them but were going to make a significantly better showing.” Most of the athletes wish to improve their times by 30 seconds to one minute, Papa said.
The winning team for the day was Bloomsburg University. Behind them was Shippensburg University and Seton Hill University.
The team will compete again next weekend on Sept. 24 at the Lock Haven, where they placed first last year. Lock Haven has a mostly flat course, which will result in a fast race.
“Typically our athletes run their fastest time of the year on that course,” Papa said.