This past weekend Mercyhurst Women’s and Men’s cross country competed in a 5k PSAC Championship meet— the first PSAC competition held in over a year. Although no spectators could attend, this race set a hopeful precedent for a return to normalcy for PSAC cross country.
Freshman Alec Bidwell and junior Dennis Whalen expressed excitement at being able to compete in a PSAC Championship this year.
“It felt really good to compete in a PSAC competition. We were the first to represent Mercyhurst again,” Bidwell said.
“I am very appreciative to be part of the PSAC Championship, and I hope other sports get to have one soon as well,” Whalen said.
The Lakers ran Saturday afternoon at Lock Haven. The women’s team ranked 15th, and the Men’s team 11th overall.
Top five finishers for Mercyhurst in the men’s race include sophomore Joe Groth, Bidwell, Whalen, junior Benjamin Barnes and freshman Ethan Chadbourne. As for the women’s race, junior Margaret Sutherland, sophomore Abbagail Anaya, freshman Eleanor Chuzie, freshman Madison Burncheck and freshman Emma Pringle finished top five for Mercyhurst.
Several runners raced personal records at the championship and look forward to topping these times during their next regular season. Newcomers also look forward to racing their first college 10k in the fall.
Bidwell noted being somewhat nervous leading up to his first official collegiate race. He also said the team’s positivity and shared goals to push one another and beat Gannon gave him comfort.
Cross country is typically a fall sport, and this season was like nothing the team had done before, according to Whalen.
The training season was hectic with Erie’s winter weather and short daylight hours. Snow was the biggest obstacle to training as the team could not run on unplowed sidewalks and instead had to run in the street.
The team trained for 5k races this season rather than the usual 8-10k. In spite of these changes, Whalen said, “the team still went 13 miles on our long runs like previous years.” He also mentioned practices remained consistent like a fall season amid all the obstacles.
This race was also Michael Williamson’s first PSAC Championship as head coach. Previously the assistant cross country coach here at Mercyhurst, Williamson became head coach last July and has since been leading the team.
“Practicing this semester was very taxing at times, and it is competitions like this that remind student athletes why they work so hard,” Whalen said.
Mercyhurst cross country had one meet prior to the championship in early March, co-hosted with Gannon. The “Run in the Park” was a tri-meet between Gannon, Mercyhurst and Penn State Behrend.
The women’s team had two top-10 finishers at the Run in the Park: Anaya and Sutherland. The women’s and men’s teams ranked second and third, respectively. Sophomore Joe Groth finished first for the Mercyhurst men and eleventh overall.
Cross country will begin training again in April for track season. Their first meet is on April 25th at Penn State Behrend.