Runners line up for the starter's pistol at the annual Paul Short Run on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, at Goodman Campus. This is the 46th year that Lehigh has hosted the run, bringing college and high school teams from all over the U.S and Canada. (Xinchen Ma/B&W Staff)

Lehigh cross country falls behind competition Paul Short Run

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The Lehigh men’s and women’s cross country teams hosted the 46th annual Paul Short Run on Saturday, Oct. 5, at Goodman Campus. 

The meet featured a total of 14 races, including high school girls’ and boys’ 5K, college men’s 8K and college women’s 6K and two open events for individuals. Approximately 6,000 student athletes from 450 colleges and high schools participated in the event.

The teams were divided into the White Race, Brown Race and Gold Race — characterized by varying degrees of difficulty and competition — based on coach preference and rankings. The Gold Race is considered the most competitive, followed by the Brown and White races, respectively. 

This year, Utah State took first place in the men’s Gold 8K with a team score of 54 points, improving upon the 77 points it finished with in 2018. On the women’s side, Queen’s University finished first in the Gold 6K, with a total team score of 130.

The Lehigh men’s team finished 24th out of 45 teams in the Gold 8K, the most competitive heat of the 8K race, with a total score of 629. 

Lehigh senior Jeffrey Kirshenbaum and juniors Seth Slavin, Bradford Demassa, Sean Brown and Michael Mitchell scored for the Mountain Hawks. Slavin and Demassa finished within two places of each other in the race, earning 74th and 76th places respectively, out of nearly 400 runners. 

“(Slavin) and (Demassa) continue to impress me every day,” coach Todd Etters said. “They really have taken the responsibility of being our top guys. (Slavin) beat (Demassa) by one second this race, but they are both pushing each other and enjoying being the front of the pack for us.”

Sophomore Avery Lederer, who also ran for the men’s team Saturday and earned a time of 26:34.7, said he did not perform to his personal standards. Although it wasn’t his best meet this season, he said he finished feeling happy and proud of his team. 

“The Gold Race is super competitive,” Lederer said. “It is even more competitive than the Patriot League Championship because there are Big 10 schools that are nationally ranked.”

Lederer said the biggest challenge in the Paul Short Run is that everyone starts out incredibly strong. He said the first mile of the five-mile race can be a pace as fast as 4:30:00. Maintaining that pace is challenging and can hurt runners later, he said. 

The Lehigh women’s cross country team finished 23rd out of 43 teams in the 6K Gold Race with a score of 694. 

Seniors Hannah Bonaguidi, Diana Hammerstone and Ashleigh Crawford, junior Susie Poore and sophomore Jade Sessions were the top five finishers for the team.

Sophomore Martina Sell said the Mountain Hawks had a goal of breaking into the top 20. Although they failed to achieve this goal, several runners beat their personal records, which she said proved to be a significant victory.

“Even though we did not reach our team goal, our runners still did really well in the Paul Short Race,” Sell said. “We were especially proud of (Bonaguidi), (Poore) and (Hammerstone), because we also wanted to push our best runners further up in the rankings, which they did achieve, so we were happy.”

The men’s and women’s cross country teams will look to improve before they attend the Penn State National Open on Friday, Oct. 18, immediately followed by the Leopard Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 19. 

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