Members of the Lehigh men's and women's track and field teams help set up for their practice at Rauch Field House on Monday. The teams spent all season preparing to travel to Bucknell University to compete at the indoor Patriot League Championships. (Gracie Chavers/B&W Staff)

Lehigh track and field finalizes preparation for PL championships

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The Lehigh men’s and women’s track and field teams will travel to Bucknell University to compete at the indoor Patriot League Championships this weekend.

The Mountain Hawks will race against nine other Patriot League opponents: Army, Navy, Bucknell, Colgate University, Boston University, American University, College of the Holy Cross, Loyola University (Maryland) and Lafayette College.

Junior mid-distance runner Clare Severe said the women’s biggest competitor will be Bucknell, the team that won the championships last year.

“They have a very talented team and always compete well,” she said.

Earlier this season, Severe broke the Lehigh women’s mile record with a time of 4:51.75 at the Villanova Invitational on Feb. 3. She placed third in the event.

Severe will compete in the 800-meter event and the 4×800 meter relay this weekend. She will also run the 1600-meter leg of the distance medley relay.

Navy won the men’s championships last year, and sophomore distance runner Jeff Kirshenbaum said the Navy runners are “fierce competitors.” He also said Army, Boston, Bucknell and American will be difficult teams to beat, but he believes the Mountain Hawks are confident and ready to fight for every point.

“There will be tough battles in every event, but we’re ready for any challenges presented to us,” he said.

Like Severe, Kirshenbaum also found personal success at the Villanova Invitational. He placed second in the 3,000-meter event with a collegiate personal record of 8:15.07. He’s now fourth in the Patriot League for the event.

Kirshenbaum will compete in the 5,000-meter and 3,000-meter events at the championships.

Both runners said their teams have been preparing for this meet since the beginning of the school year.

Kirshenbaum said the distance runners were able to develop a strong base through months of tough cross-country training.

“Our greatest preparation has come with gradual increases in our marks every time we practice and compete,” he said.

With the championships being this weekend, Kirshenbaum said the runners’ main focuses are on resting and mentally preparing themselves for a competition they’ve been training for all year.

Severe said the women are tapering off so they’re well-rested for the weekend. They focused on sharpening their game this week in practice so that they’re ready to go come the championships.

“Usually, on the women’s side, we come in around third place,” Severe said. “It’s always a goal of ours to win, but we know to do so, we’d have to throw down some really good performances across the board.”

At this weekend’s indoor Patriot League Championships, the women will fight to move up in the top-5 finishers as the men look to improve upon last year’s fifth place finish.

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