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In tough conditions, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania cross country teams competed and succeeded in the annual alumni meet Saturday at the South Campus course.
Saturday’s competition served as an opportunity to race for those who did not race Sept. 13 at Michigan State University’s Spartan Invitational and as a way for current runners to compete against athletes from past teams, according to head coach Joey Zins.
“I just wanted them to put in a good, hard effort,” Zins said. “We have a really tough course, and the conditions out there were challenging. As long as we put a good workout in, I was happy.”
Zins said that the weather, which at times included a heavy headwind combined with steady rainfall, could be useful for the teams down the homestretch of the schedule.
“The rainstorm obviously made things even tougher out there, so I knew times would be even slower than they would normally be,” Zins said. “It can be beneficial to race in conditions like that on a tough course because it will help us be prepared for anything in future meets.”
The IUP men and women will be idle this weekend with eyes set toward the Oct. 5 Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh University.
“Paul Short will be a great test, as we will be racing against 40 other very competitive schools [in] Division I, II and III,” said Steph Beaudette (senior, natural science), who finished first overall in the women’s race. The men’s race was won by Nick Patton (senior, sociology).
“I always look for our teams to start rounding into form at Paul Short,” Zins said. “We are excited about finally having our full men’s team out there for the first time all season. The majority of the group will have had a three week period of training since they last raced at Michigan State. It can be really beneficial to have a nice stretch of time where you can just focus on training without worrying about racing.”
After Saturday’s competition, the IUP women held their first-place ranking in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Atlantic Region.
The team, however, fell out of a tie for 10th place in the USTFCCCA national rankings, narrowly slipping to 11th place.
“Being ranked number one in the region again this week is truly exciting,” Lauren Lyons (senior, athletic training) said. Lyons and Beaudette echoed Zins philosophy of embracing the extended break from invitationals.
“[The team is hoping on] staying as healthy as possible and peaking at the championship time of the season. We are focusing on keeping our easy runs relaxed and really pushing ourselves during hard workouts,” Lyons said.
“Having this two- to three-week gap between meets should work in our favor because we can get a quality block of training and workouts in without interruptions that would come because of racing,” Beaudette said. “Soon, we will start cutting down for the big meets: PSACs, regionals and hopefully nationals.
“That is when we want to be feeling and running our best.”
While both the men’s and women’s teams are training for the Paul Short Invite, the Crimson Hawks are very much aware of their potential when the championship portion of their season comes around.
“Our seniors need to lead the way for us,” Zins said. “We have a great senior class, and they are excited about what we have a chance to accomplish this year. It isn’t about one particular person. We need everyone to work together and do their part for our team to be successful.”
“As a team,” Lyons said, “we are determined to make this an unforgettable season.”