Senior Ryan Mahalsky leads the pack of runners early in the race at the Patriot League Cross Country Championships at Goodman Campus on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. The Mountain Hawks finished sixth overall behind a sixth place individual finish from Mahalsky. (Meghan Reilly/B&W photo)

Lehigh cross country finishes sixth in Patriot League Championships

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The Lehigh men’s and women’s cross country team competed in the Patriot League Championship this past Saturday, with both teams finishing in sixth place.

Navy, Bucknell University, Army and Boston University all came ahead of the Lehigh men’s team. American University and Lehigh were tied, but American won in a tiebreaker. For the women’s team, Boston University, Bucknell, Army, Navy and College of the Holy Cross all surged past Lehigh.

Last year, both teams finished in second place and the year before that they won the championship.

The Lehigh men’s team struggled to keep pace with the runners, especially those on the first-place Navy team.

“We have been under a lot of stress in the last two weeks and it showed in our performance,” graduate student Jimmy Miller said.

Senior Ryan Mahalsky was disappointed that the Hawks did not come through for this important race.

“Leading up to the race, we had indviduals running well at different meets throughout the year,” Mahalsky said. “But we never put it together consistently as a team and we were hoping to do that as a team yesterday. However, it did not happen. The fact that we have two first-team all league runners is an advantage, but our depth is not quite as deep as it has been in the past.”

Mahalsky was the first of the Hawks to finish, earning sixth place as well as first team All Patriot League Honors. He is still hoping to qualify for Nationals.

On the women’s side, Boston won the Championship through a tiebreaker with Bucknell, with one of Boston’s seniors coming in first place for the entire race.  Junior Elizabeth Weiler crossed the finish line first for Lehigh, coming in second place overall and also earning first team All Patriot League Honors.

“Our strengths were our positive mindset heading into this race along with our preparation over the summer and through the season to prepare us physically and mentally,” freshman Laura Barnes said. “However, our weaknesses have been the high number of injuries our runners have encountered leading up to Patriots. The girls team had a good run at the Princeton Invitational two weeks prior, which showed that we were starting to put the pieces back together.”

There are no qualifying standards for Regionals, with every team in the division sending its top seven runners.

“The only thing we can do to get ready is take our runs easy for these next couple weeks and get a lot of sleep,” Miller said. “We aren’t taking any positives out of the Championship, but rather using it go forward and do well at Regionals in two weeks.”

Mahalsky also has hope for the upcoming meet.

“Our top seven guys will be moving onto regionals, and hopefully we finish as one of the top eight teams there,” he said.

The NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals will be held on Nov. 14 in University Park, Maryland.

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