From left to right: junior Madison Zaun, senior Jade Sessions, and sophomore Christina Yakaboski of Lehigh's Women's Cross Country. Both the Lehigh men’s and women’s cross country teams will have a "normal" season this year after a shortened 2020 season. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Cross country looks forward to first full season since 2019


After only competing twice in 2020, both the Lehigh men’s and women’s cross country teams are ready for a normal season. 

Last spring, the team only raced in an indoor 5k and a road course edition of the Patriot League Championship.

Women’s cross country Head Coach Deb Utesch said the team has adopted the theme of “it’s go time.” 

“With the unusual circumstances of these past couple of years, the team has a lot of individual pieces of talent that have been fairly dormant for some time,” said Utesch. “So we’ve adopted the theme of ‘it’s go time’ now, meaning that it’s time to piece together those skills again and see how far we can progress with them.”

Men’s cross country coach Todd Etters said he’s ready to have the team back together to challenge one another to be their best. 

  Both coaches noted the strong leadership of their teams’ upperclassmen, citing those athletes as instrumental in creating a positive team atmosphere for the upcoming season.

Senior Jamie Zamrin said that despite cross country being an individual sport, she values the team-oriented strengths of the women’s team.

“We have a lot of very capable leaders in our senior class that contribute such different things to the team,” Zamrin said. “But it’ll also be really exciting to see what our four freshmen bring to the team.”

Coming out of preseason training, Utesch said her team is focused on finalizing a base of volume mileage, with the expectation of transitioning into specific pace work soon. 

She said the overall focus for the team is getting their cross country legs back  and readjusting to running on a cross country course after almost two years. 

Zamrin said they’re trying to reconnect as a team again and rebuild the family-like culture that was difficult to maintain during the pandemic. 

Although they are returning to a normal season, Etters said it’s important to maintain the necessary safety practices now that there are looser COVID-19 restrictions.

“A lot of it is what is going to happen outside of practice,” Etters said. “We have to be diligent about how we live our lives given that COVID-19 hasn’t gone away. But there is this awesome opportunity for the team to now get to know each other as opposed to the small group work that last year consisted of.”

The men’s team finished second in the Lehigh Invitational Friday, while the women finished third. 

Connor Melko, Tyler French and Seth Slavin all placed inside of the top-10. Madison Zaun, Jade Sessions and Christina Yakaboski finished inside the top-15.

The Mountain Hawks return to action against Lafayette on Sept. 18 in Easton.

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