Carnegie Mellon meet helps cross country
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 00:10
After a strong start to the season for both the men’s and women’s cross country teams, the Dukes sent runners to the Carnegie Mellon Invitational at Schenley Park Saturday for a refresher before the upcoming Atalntic-10 championships in Philadelphia at the end of this month.
While some of the team had the day off to rest before conference championships on Oct. 27, the women’s team placed two runners in the top 35 in a 5 kilometer race where Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania took first place. The men’s team also placed two runners in the top 40 in the following race where host Carnegie Mellon dominated and reclaimed the title at the annual invitational in the 8K.
Without a portion of their team at the race, the women were still able to make a splash near the top of the leaderboard on Saturday in the 5K. Senior Emily Ballantyne finished 22nd overall with a time of 19:23.0, only a minute off Washington & Jefferson’s Kristen Galligan’s winning mark of 18:22.8. Junior Shelby Haitz followed 10 seconds behind her teammate and finished 33rd overall with a time of 19:33.2.
Haitz, who runs primarily for the Dukes’ track and field team, was able to finish strong, running furiously past the competition to break into the lead 35 in the final straightaway of the course.
“Track really helps with the kick at the end,” Haitz said. “Overall, I think we did pretty well today. I definitely think this is the best year so far.”
Following the women’s 5K, the men fared well compared to their female counterparts, placing two in the top 50 in the afternoon’s 8k. Sophomore Brandon Krszal finished 39th overall with a time of 26:51.3, just under two minutes behind lead runner Brian Harvey, a Carnegie Mellon alumnus who came in at 25:10.9. Senior Cam Stauffer finished about ten seconds behind Krszal in 46th place overall, with a time of 27:01.4.
The men’s race faced near disaster when the clock malfunctioned about five minutes after the start, but race officials scrambled and quickly resolved the issue before Harvey reached the finish just after the 25-minute mark and it did not affect the runners’ times.
Krszal praised his team’s effort so far this year after the race.
“We have a really strong team this year,” he said, and then added that his effort at Schenley Park was “definitely the best race of my college career.”
Coach Jim Lear said that while the Dukes had good finishes in the invitational, there was also room for improvement for those who ran. Looking ahead, Lear said he expects the women to rally behind Amber Valimont and place in the top four or five at the A-10 Championships later this month.
Lear hopes to see the men’s team follow the examples set by standout senior Jim Spisak and freshman Bob Gasior, who both received A-10 weekly awards for performances at the end of September. Spisak, who placed third overall at the Paul Short Invitational in Bethlehem, Pa., with a time of 24:00, was named the men’s Performer of the Week, while Gasior was named men’s Rookie of the Week for finishing in 25:42 and 128th out of 332 runners. Lear said he is hopeful for a top five finish for the men’s team as well at the upcoming conference championship. The men’s team finished second in the conference last season.
The Dukes look to hit the ground running after a slow weekend, with big races in the coming week to help revitalize the team. They will travel to NCAA Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Ky., next Saturday for another revitalizing weekend then travel across the state on Oct. 27 for the A-10 Championships in Philadelphia.