Members of the Lehigh women's cross country team run at the Goodman Campus Course. Both the men's and women's team defeated Lafayette and now have winning streaks of 23 and 17, respectively, against the Leopards. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Cross country teams keep winning streaks against Lafayette alive


The Lehigh men’s and women’s cross country teams relied on team and individual preparation ahead of the rivalry dual meet against Lafayette, maintaining their winning streaks against the Leopards.

The men’s and women’s teams now have winning streaks of 23 and 17, respectively, against Lafayette.

The men’s team ended the meet with a 17-40 win. Seniors Connor Melko and Tyler French took first and second place for the Mountain Hawks with the exact same time of 25:37.20. 

Senior Madison Zaun finished second overall on the women’s side with a time of 22:19.20. The women won 23-34 and six of the top 10 finishers were Mountain Hawks.

 Women’s graduate student Martina Sell said in past years, the team has shared success stories in order to get hyped and in a good headspace for the meet.

Although Sell got injured at the beginning of the season and didn’t race in this meet, she said she was excited to cheer on her teammates.

One of Sell’s favorite stories, which she said is told every year, is the story of Lehigh “sweeping” Lafayette. A sweep is when one team finishes the race with all five of its runners ahead of the other team’s first runner.

“A few years before I got here, the girls swept Lafayette and Coach (Debbie Utesch) came into the locker room with a broom,” Sell said. “(She) was sweeping the floors, so we’ve kind of tried to make that happen again.”

To prepare for the meet, Zaun said they did a lot of training blocks including weight, speed and tempo training, in order to prepare for the meet and to simulate the race.

Sell said the women’s team recently partook in a spirit week, where they had themes for each practice as an exciting precursor for the rivalry matchup. 

Zaun said each runner has their own way of getting in the right headspace for the race, whether it’s being alone or listening to hype up music.

“We enjoy the diversity that we have with each other and how we want to mentally prepare, but when we come together at the line, it’s always ‘everyone’s ready to go,’” Zaun said.

Men’s senior Brandtson Duffie said the men’s team focused more on having a consistent routine and staying physically sound in preparation for the rivalry meet.

Duffie said, because it is so early in the season, the team is still getting in the swing of things. He said this is the hardest part of the season, so staying physically and mentally sound is crucial.

“We don’t take Lafayette lightly,” Duffie said. “We know they don’t take us lightly.” 

French said even though Lehigh has a winning streak against Lafayette, they want to continue to beat them. He said preparation leading up to the meet is taken seriously in terms of mentality and physical training.

He said the hardest part in a race is settling into the groove of the race early and not ending up running by yourself.

“Our biggest goal going into the race is to try and stay as a group together for as long as possible,” French said.

Both teams compete next at the Paul Short Run on Sept. 30 at the Goodman Campus Cross Country Course.

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