The Lehigh men’s and women’s cross country teams defeated rival Lafayette with back-to-back wins on Saturday, Sept. 14.
The women’s team outraced its opponents to a 16-46 victory, securing its 15th consecutive win over Lafayette. Lehigh also placed eight runners in the top 10 and four in the top five.
Junior Susie Poore finished fourth at the meet, and said the team’s running style and emphasis on solid communication aided the Mountain Hawks in the win.
“We’re really good at pack-running, so our strategy going in was to take it out together, be smart about it and really push through strategic points throughout the race,” Poore said.
Senior Ashleigh Crawford recorded her first college win at the meet. She said sharing the moment with her teammates made it an unforgettable experience.
“Lafayette was definitely very team-oriented,” Crawford said. “I was able to get my first college win there, but that was in part because Hannah (Bonaguidi) and Diana (Hammerstone) realized that this would be my first. It was special to have that moment with them.”
Poore and Crawford both said the team’s strong chemistry is a key element of its success this season.
Crawford said the group’s close-knit dynamic developed around the positive attitudes fostered by the team, which have translated into a fun-loving atmosphere. She said instead of overwhelming themselves with their end-of-season goals, they take it one day at a time.
“We’re definitely enjoying the process and not putting too much pressure on postseason things yet,” Crawford said. “We want to keep those goals in mind, but still have fun with it.”
Poore said they implemented a team “mantra” in competitions. The runners shout “giddy-up” to one another to help power each other through course obstacles.
“As long as we keep that growth mindset, focus on holding each other up and keep ‘giddying up’ those hills, I think that we’re going to find some really great results at the end of the year,” Poore said.
The women’s win against Lafayette advanced the team to ninth in the Mid-Atlantic NCAA standings.
The men’s team echoed the women’s success Saturday morning, earning a 17-44 win over the Leopards. The triumph marks the team’s 21st sequential win over Lafayette.
The team placed seven runners in the top 10, with four men finishing in the top five. Junior Brad DeMassa earned an individual victory at the meet, finishing first in the race.
DeMassa said the team’s strong lineup has allowed the runners to adopt a pack-running strategy. Although the plan is new this year, DeMassa said the team’s focus is already proving to be successful.
“Trying to run in packs is new to a lot of us, and it requires knowing where your teammates are and trying to help them out, as well as being focused on the race,” DeMassa said. “This can be very demanding, and it is essential for us as a team to maintain our composure so that we can all run at our best.”
He said maintaining composure is the team’s top priority this season.
The team hopes to continue to improve as it edges closer to the Patriot League Championships in November.
“We are planning on keeping our momentum up by sticking to our plan of working off each other and being hopeful,” DeMassa said. “This drive to reach our goal of being a top team at leagues is what we are striving for this season.”
Both teams will look to continue their successes at the Paul Short Run on Oct. 5.