The Slippery Rock women’s cross-country team competed in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championships Saturday at Kutztown University. The team was ranked eighth among the seventeen teams, but reached short of their goals and placed ninth on the rainy course that day.
Sophomore Courtney Group led the Rock to the finish line with a 24th place finish in the race of 163 runners. She ran the 6,000 meter race in 23:39.0, four seconds faster than her time when she ran the course back in September for the D2/3 challenge. The top 25 finish earned her a spot on the All-PSAC second team.
Behind her was junior Melissa Rains (24:05.8), who hit the course for the first time this season, missing it due to an injury in September. Junior Caitlyn Janeda ran 24:23.8, over 30 seconds faster than her time from the D2/3 challenge earlier this season.
Freshman Makaila Banka finished in 24:39.8 and junior Matti Dunham capped off the five scorers with a 60th place finish and time of 24:43.2.
Seniors Alexis Swiergol and Kaylee Haberkam finished with times of 25:11.0 and 25:18.4, respectively.
The Rocks effort placed them ninth in PSAC with 226 points. Shippensburg placed first with 50 points, with Bloomsburg and East Stroudsburg behind them, with 60 and 151 points.
SRU head coach John Papa said, “I thought the ladies ran well. We hoped to be higher than ninth, but watching the ladies run and seeing their times, I feel that we had a solid team effort.”
Papa went on to say injuries and illness have not been uncommon recently, evoking some struggle for the team.
Even though the girls did not finish how they had in mind, the race was an improvement for many of the girls and for some, a way to finish off the season with a personal best.
“The ladies that are done for the year had a great experience and know what it takes to reach the top seven for SRU,” Papa said.
The top seven runners from each team in PSAC will compete in NCAA Atlantic Regional on October 29th at The Rocks home course. Running to represent Sippery Rock will be Courtney Group, Melissa Rains, Caitlyn Janeda, Makaila Banka, Matti Dunham, Alexis Swiergol and Kaylee Haberkam.
Papa and the team hope to move up a few spots at regionals. They are currently ranked 10th in the region.
“We are also hoping that we have at least two ladies make all-region,” Papa said, which requires placing in the top 30 runners.