Lehigh women’s cross country team finished 21st in the Gold 6K division and the men finished 26th in the Gold 8K division at the 47th Annual Paul Short Run on Oct. 1.
Senior Jade Sessions finished first for the Mountain Hawks coming in 99th overall with a time of 21:41.5.
Lehigh was able to have runners one through five all finish within 35 seconds of each other, with sophomore Christina Yakaboski, freshman Maddison Hayes, junior Madison Zaun and fifth-year senior Kara Bonner all placing for the Mountain Hawks.
Zaun said they worked well together throughout the race.
“In a race like that when you have so many people, it is really hard to find your teammates, but we did a really good job of finding each other and staying with each other throughout the race,” Zaun said.
The men’s team was led by junior Connor Melko who placed 129th overall with a time of 25:00.5. The men’s team also successfully ran in a pack, with Tyler French and Nick Wilson coming in within 15 seconds of Melko.
Lehigh is hosting the 47th annual Lehigh Paul Short run today. Junior Connor Melko finished first for the Mountain Hawks. pic.twitter.com/R7CWIir7aD
— The Brown and White (@LUBrownWhite) October 1, 2021
The Paul Short Run hosts over 4,000 runners and several hundred schools making it the premier cross country meet in the country, according to World-Track.
Melko said teams from Utah, Colorado and Arizona were present at the meet.
“Northern Arizona is one of the best teams in the nation,” Melko said. “It’s nice having them come to the meet because they realize that we put on a good event and are good competition.”
The history of the run stems from Paul Short, a four-sport athlete at Lehigh. Short played both quarterback and defense for the football team, and was a member of the wrestling, baseball and lacrosse teams.
Short was a member of ROTC as well as a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society. After graduation, Short quickly returned to campus to be an assistant coach for the football, baseball, wrestling and lacrosse programs. He also served as a business manager and assistant director of athletics.
The only disruption to Short’s career at Lehigh came while he served as a Major in the U.S. Army during World War II.
Short was the football team captain in 1932 and 1933 and was chosen as the outstanding football player of the 1930s and 1940s during the celebration of the 100 years of football at Lehigh.
One of the sports Short did not participate in at Lehigh was cross country. His love for running came solely as a spectator.
Short was so enthralled by the team that he would travel to away meets to watch them compete, according to Lehigh sports.
After Short passed away on November 17, 1967, at the age of 57, John Covert began organizing a cross country meet for Lehigh’s brand new course and named the meet after the avid fan, Paul Short.
The first annual Paul Short Run took place in 1969, and seven men’s teams competed at Goodman Campus.
Then, in 1981, the race expanded and six women’s teams began to compete in the meet.
In the early 2000’s women’s cross country Coach Debbie Utesch and track and field Coach Matt Utesch began to grow the meet and added high school races to the competition.
Now, the meet features 14 races, six college races, six high school races and two open races for men and women.
High schoolers come in from all over Pennsylvania, allowing Lehigh to recruit athletes from across the state.
Sessions said Lehigh had a recruit from Colorado this year.
“Her and her family were here and she was able to hang out with us at the family tailgate after the race,” Sessions said. “It was awesome that she got to see the team dynamic, which is important for an athlete coming in.”