The weather was not ideal for the Mount’s cross country team’s second meet of the year. It was a rainy and cool morning on September 13th for the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational. Despite this, the runners had no trouble getting up for this run based on the competition they would be facing.
James Stevenson, the head coach of the cross country team, classified the muddy and slippery course as an inevitable reality of the sport. When asked about the weather’s effect on the runners, Coach Stevenson said that no particular adjustments had to be made. Of course a dry day would have been nice, “but that’s cross country.”
Among the schools present for this Invitational were top ranked squads from West Virginia, Syracuse, Georgetown, and Penn State. Having all of these excellent programs assembled at the Penn State Blue-White golf course was a tremendous opportunity for the Mountaineers. It was also a good reason to block out the difficulties that the weather presented.
Senior cross country captain Jesse Langton knows the magnitude of meets such as these. He later recounted, “It is always awesome to compete against such high caliber schools because it gives us an idea as to what the other runners around the country are doing, and it just makes us compete at our best.” Langton, who finished third for the Mount’s men’s cross country team, thought that his team was able to rise to the occasion.
Standouts for the Mount on this Saturday morning included Kristen Galligan and Chris Evans. Galligan, a senior from Frederick, MD, was the top finisher for the Mount on the women’s side. She finished 31st out of 130 runners at the meet with a time of 22:19. Evans, a freshman from Oakland, NJ, was the first to finish on the men’s side. He had a solid time of 28:22, which was good enough to place him at 92nd out of 133 runners.
Galligan is racing well has her senior season begins. Coach Stevenson believes that she has the potential to win the individual NEC title this year. For Evans, his athletic career at the Mount is just beginning. As Stevenson put it, he “has a very bright career ahead of him.”
Penn State, the hosts of the Invitational, came in first on the women’s and men’s side. The Mount’s women finished ninth out of the ten schools at the invitation. The men came in 11th out of 11 teams.
Despite the disappointing finishes at the team level, Langton was still proud of the team’s efforts. “Even though it wasn’t ideal conditions for a race, I feel that all of us put in our best possible effort and I am very happy with the team’s performance.”
It was the team’s first 8k of the season. For the freshman, it was the first 8k of their lives. In high school competition, the athletes complete 5k races. Therefore, this experience was a valuable opportunity for the runners. It was a great time to assess their training methods utilized thus far.
For some of the runners, a return to the Penn State blue-white golf course is possible. This year’s NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Cross Country meet will be held in State College, PA.
Next up for the cross country team is the Ted Owen Invitational in New Britain, Connecticut in two weeks. This will give the team plenty of time to build upon what they learned this weekend.