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

Cross country to send two runners to Nationals

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The Lehigh cross country team came into the weekend with lofty goals to meet and came out with two runners moving on to Nationals. This is the first time Lehigh has both a man and a woman advance to the NCAA National Championship meet.

Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams competed at the NCAA Mid Atlantic Regional Championships at Pennsylvania State University on Saturday. Both teams took their seven runners to battle in hopes of scoring enough points to find success against the top teams in the region.

The women started off the day at noon with the 6,000 meter race, followed by the men at 1 p.m. with the 10,000 meter.

The women placed 13th overall scoring 356 points with an average time of 22:10. Of their seven runners, the top performance came from junior Elizabeth Weiler, also known as ”Biz” to her teammates. Weiler finished sixth overall with a time of 20:38, and she will be advancing to the NCAA National Championship meet in Terre Haute, Indiana, next weekend.

“It has been Biz’s goal all season to make it to the NCAA championships,” women’s cross country coach Debbie Utesch said.

Weiler’s outstanding performance has landed her in the Lehigh record books as the second woman in school history to make it to the cross country championships. Coming off a disappointing day at the Patriot League Championships, the team was very eager and prepared to bounce back and run at its best.

“Everyone did a great job of stepping up and running to their potential,” Welier said. “I am so proud of my team and truly feel privileged to have raced along side them this season.”

Joining Welier is senior Ryan Mahalsky from the men’s team.

The men finished the day placing ninth overall scoring 253 points, with an average time of 31:30. Mahalsky was the top finisher for Lehigh placing fifth, which is the highest finish at the regional level for a male Lehigh runner. He completed the 10K with a time of 30:22. Mahalsky has also earned a record as the third runner in school history to make it to the NCAA cross country championships.

Mahalsky believes he ran a smart race and tried not to waste too much energy because he knew the national meet would only be eight days away.

“It went out slow for me, then closed hard, and there was a large pack of runners all bunched and I just made sure I held my ground,” Mahalsky said. “I just made sure when it got tough with a kilometer to go I went to the front and made sure individuals wouldn’t beat me.”

The meet will be held at Indiana State University on Nov. 22 at 12 p.m.

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