Lehigh cross country went up against Lafayette on this weekend on Sept. 18 2021. The Mountain Hawks were able to defeat the Leopards for the 23rd year in a row. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Lehigh cross country continues to dominate Lafayette in dual meet

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The Lehigh cross country team was able to secure a win over rival Lafayette on Sept. 18th in Easton.

Junior Madison Zaun and senior Jade Sessions placed first and second in the women’s cross country race. Junior Connor Melko and fifth-year senior Seth Slavin placed first and second in the men’s race.

The win marks the team’s 22nd straight year the men’s team has defeated the Leopards in the Lehigh-Lafayette Dual, and the 16th straight year the women’s team has won.

Zaun finished with a winning time of 22:33.96, while Sessions finished in 22:37.79.

Melko led the way for the men with a time of 25:24:34 and Slavin finished with a 25:40:29.

The Mountain Hawks had a score of 23 and placed five runners in the top 10, including junior Tyler French and senior Nick Wilson, who placed fifth and sixth.

The men’s team also came out strong in their first race of the season at Goodman Sept. 3rd, ultimately finishing just behind Princeton with 58 points. Melko, junior Tyler French and Slavin all finished in the top ten.

Melko finished fifth overall and first for the Mountain Hawks. French and Slavin placed seventh and 10th overall at the Lehigh Invitational.

After running neck-and-neck with three other Princeton runners for the last leg of the race, Melko crossed the line with a time of 18:18.0, a full 10 seconds before the sixth-place runner. Melko was named Patriot League Men’s Runner of the Week for his stellar performance and reached his new PR time.

Senior Nick Wilson said they were eager to prove themselves in the first meet.

“We were really excited to show everyone what we are made of and to get back out there, so it felt great to be validated by that second-place spot,”  Wilson said.

Not only were the Mountain Hawks excited about their team’s success, they were also thrilled with the individual performances from the team.

“It felt really good to get a good result for our first meet,”  Melko said. “Seth and I were pretty set to place in the top 10, but Tyler stepped up big time, so I think this shows he is going to have a great season.”

Wilson said he hopes French’s breakout performance will set the tone for other runners this season.

French attributed his improvement and the impressive first race to the Mountain Hawks summer training schedule, which consisted of running 50 to 90 miles a week to prepare for the season.

“Just generally, I tried to be smart and listen to my body,” French explained. “Summer training is for building a strong base that we can build off when we get back to school.”

Lehigh looked to bring the same intensity from the Lehigh Invitational to their dual meet against Lafayette.

“Nobody was alive on our team the last time we lost this meet so we tend to get a lot of alumni support leading up to it and it’s awesome,”  Melko said.

The men’s and women’s cross country team will return to competition on Oct. 1 as they host the annual Paul Short Run.

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