The team completes another warmup lap before beginning their timed laps at practice on September 12. They ran both on the track and on the cross country course to work on adjusting their strides. (Isabel Standbridge/B&W staff)

Lehigh cross country looks to assert continued dominance against Lafayette

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The Lehigh men’s and women’s cross country teams will face off against rival Lafayette College in Easton on Saturday morning. This event marks the first matchup between the two perennial rivals for the 2016-17 sports year.

Both the men’s and women’s teams have a history of dominating against Lafayette in the annual dual meet. The men have tallied a streak of 17 straight winning years, while the women are looking for their 12th straight victory. The Mountain Hawks have combined for a 37-13 all-time record against the Leopards.

Both teams are confident that they will emerge victorious again in the upcoming race.

“We get extra pumped for a good race knowing that it’s Lafayette,” sophomore Brian Arita said. “We see many alumni come back for the race so we are also running for them. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Lehigh women’s coach Deb Utesch is entering her 20th season as a coach for the Mountain Hawks. This marks her eighth season as the head coach, and Lehigh has yet to lose to the Leopards with Utesch at the helm.

“It is a great rivalry and often the cross country meet is the first Lehigh-Lafayette athletic competition each year so we like to kick the series off with a win,” Utesch said. “But the two teams get to know each other fairly well and we actually like to see the Lafayette kids do well when they aren’t competing against Lehigh.”

Like the women’s group, the men’s team feels confident it will win. Men’s coach Todd Etters, and former Lehigh runner, mentioned the long-standing rivalry, which is also the oldest cross country rivalry in the NCAA.

“There is nothing quite like competing in such an intimate head-to-head setting,” Etters said. “This weekend we will be seeking our 18th straight win and in doing so we hope to secure a perfect score. This would require us to place at least seven runners in front of their first.”

With a win this weekend, the men’s side will extend its winning streak to 18 straight meets against Lafayette. The Mountain Hawks will also be seeking their fifth perfect score since 2008.

Following the battle with Lafayette, the Mountain Hawks will begin preparation to host the Paul Short Run on Oct. 1.

 

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