By Jarrod Browne
Lead Sports Writer
Both the IUP men’s and women’s cross country teams will be traveling to Kutztown University over the weekend to compete in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championships.
Leading the Crimson Hawks will be Austin Cooper (junior, geography and regional planning) and Jenna Lezanic (senior, employment and labor relations).
These two are expected to be among the top runners in the conference at the championships.
“I think they both have a good chance of being first team All-Conference,” coach Joey Zins said. “I think Austin can shoot for something more than All-Conference.”
The runners could face some obstacles on the course at Kutztown, however.
This is the first time IUP is running at Kutztown since 2013, which means that there is not one runner on the team who has seen this course before.
Zins is focusing on the positives for his squad.
“It could be an advantage, because we have ran harder courses for four or five meets,” Zins said.
An unforeseen obstacle could also be present for the Crimson Hawks this weekend.
“I think weather conditions can pose as a challenge this weekend,” Zins said.
IUP has experienced a fairly dry and mild fall so far, but the forecast for the PSAC Championships is showing an 80 percent chance of rain.
Although this could pose a threat for the young IUP team, Zins is hopeful his team can overcome it.
“We will see,” he said. “I don’t know if it will favor us or not.”
Cooper and Lezanic are not the only Crimson Hawks who are expected to place as All-Conference.
Makena Felts (junior, nursing) and John Michael Mihalek (sophomore, psychology) are both expected to place as second team All-Conference.
“I think her [Felts] best races are ahead of her,” Zins said. “John Michael, he will have a shot at making second team.”
This will be IUP’s last race of the season, except for the runners who move forward to regionals.
IUP was scheduled to race in the Go-Fast River Run Oct. 29 in Lock Haven University, but have decided against it due to the large amount of injuries on the team.
The NCAA Atlantic Regional Championships will be held on Nov. 5 in Slippery Rock and the National Championships Nov. 19.