Lafayette cross country faces higher-level competition at Paul Short Invitational

The+Lafayette+cross+country+teams+continue+to+improve+their+times+as+they+traveled+to+Lehigh+University+to+take+part+in+the+Paul+Short+invitational.+Photo+from+9%2F18+dual+meet+against+Lehigh+University.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Athletic+Communications%29

The Lafayette cross country teams continue to improve their times as they traveled to Lehigh University to take part in the Paul Short invitational. Photo from 9/18 dual meet against Lehigh University. (Photo courtesy of Athletic Communications)

Charlie Berman

The Lafayette cross country teams traveled to Lehigh University this past weekend to take part in the Paul Short Invitational, a 40-team race consisting of teams from all over the country. This was the first time that either team had raced in the gold division, so the race proved to be a challenge that both teams could learn from. The Leopards were led by senior Brian Clayton on the men’s side, and senior Autumn Sands on the women’s side.

“Paul Short is always a good meet to go to because it’s the first real big meet of the season. There is always good competition there, and there were some solid performances that came out of the day,” senior Jack Bell said.

Following the first two races of the year, the Leopards have not achieved the results they were looking for yet. However, there has been a rising trajectory in their times as they return from an abbreviated and confusing COVID-19 season in the spring. 

The teams faced a higher level of competition after moving up from the brown race to the gold race at Paul Short.

Individually, on the men’s college gold 8k race, senior Brian Clayton led the way for the Leopards placing 183rd out of 380 with a time of 25:23.3. Senior Austin Barry finished next at 202nd in 25:29.3. Rounding out the top five for Lafayette was junior Bobby Oehrlein in 227th with a time of 25:37.9, Bell in 263rd with a time of 25:52.4, setting a personal record, and senior Thomas Anthony in 273rd with a time of 25:57.9. 

As a collective, the men’s Cross Country team finished 38th out of 40 teams with a score of 1020. However, the team had a higher average finish than many teams that finished higher than them because they had a top ten finishing spread between runners. 

In the women’s college gold 6k, the Leopards fared slightly better than the men’s team as senior Autumn Sands finished 108th with a final time of 21:45.5. After her was junior Rebecca Hartman, who finished in 150th place with a time of 22:05.8.

I’d say it was really exciting to move up from the brown race to the gold race and to have better competition,” Hartman said. “I think our girls raced strong and went out with the competition. And the girls in the open race also raced tough and I’m proud of them all.”

The final three in the top five came in within 20 seconds of each other: freshman Maura Timoney finished in 221st with a time of 22:45.8, junior Dannah Javens finished in 237th with the time of 22:50.6 and junior Katie Riley in 272nd place with a time of 23:16. 

As a team, the women took 33rd out of 38 with a final score of 878. However, in both the women and men’s cases, they were competing against schools that had up to four times as many runners as Lafayette. 

“It’s a good stepping stone and we’re looking forward to seeing what we can do at the league meet on Oct. 31st,” Bell said.

The Leopards will look to improve before the league championship at the end of this month. They will race again on their home course on Oct. 16th for the Leopard Invitational.