The Lehigh men’s and women’s cross country teams took part in the 48th annual Paul Short Run.
The competition, which took place on Sept. 30 on Goodman Campus, is dedicated to Paul Short, Lehigh’s former business manager and assistant director of athletics. Short served in his position for 29 years. The race honors his legacy.
The meet included many national and regionally-ranked programs, including teams from Arizona, Utah and North Carolina. With over 5,500 student-athletes from over 450 colleges and high schools competing, it is considered one of the largest, most prestigious cross country events in the country.
Junior Christina Yakaboski was Lehigh’s top finisher for the women’s team in the Gold 6k, finishing 172nd overall with a time of 21:22.1.
In reflecting on her time, Yakaboski said it was a race where she wanted to show what she was capable of.
“It’s amazing to host a nationally recognized meet where some of the top teams in the nation come to compete,” Yakaboski said. “Running against a large and talented field is an exciting experience and gives us an opportunity to evaluate where we are right now and what we need to do to improve.”
The women’s team ended up taking 37th place overall. Senior Madison Zaun finished close behind Yakaboski with a time of 21.39.3, finishing in 229th place overall. Sophomore Lauryn Heskin finished 32nd with a time of 22.30.1 in the women’s open 6k race.
After the race, Heskin said the team was happy with its results, since many personal records were broken. She said she also recognized areas where the team needs to improve with the Patriot League Championships at Bucknell happening in less than a month.
“A main takeaway from Paul Short is that we are moving in the right direction, but we still have more room to grow,” Heskin said. “Our team is eager to keep working hard because we know that we are capable of being successful in our league.”
The men’s team finished 41st overall, led by the efforts of seniors Connor Melko and Tyler French.
Melko was Lehigh’s top finisher for the men’s gold 8k race, securing 138th place in his race with a time of 24.21.5. His time placed him as the fourth best Lehigh runner ever on the course. This was Melko’s second time finishing as the top runner for Lehigh in the Paul Short Run.
French was close behind, placing 156th with a time of 24.27.5.
“Connor (Melko) and Tyler (French) really stepped up and raced at a high-level,” coach Todd Etters said. “They both finished with performances that put them amongst many of the great Lehigh runners from the past.”
Etters said the meet and the competition gave his team an idea of what they need to improve on.
“The Paul Short Run is proving to be one of the country’s most elite races,” Etters said. “It is a great measuring stick as to how good you are compared to the best.”
Zaun said the team is going to take the results and lessons from the meet into the rest of their season.
“We have a tight pack, which is great, but we just need to be able to run up with the top competition in the league in order to compete with these teams and place high,” Zaun said.
The Mountain Hawks will get a short break before competing in two meets on Oct. 14. The women’s team will compete at the ECAC Championships in New York City. Some of the men’s team will compete at ECAC/IC4A while the others will travel to University Park, Pennsylvania, for the Penn State Invitational.