Gettysburg Cross Country Places Second at Lebanon Valley Invitational
By Matthew Hutcheon, Contributing Writer
The Gettysburg Men’s Cross Country team traveled to Lebanon, Pennsylvania last Friday to compete in their eighth event of the season. The Bullets were a part of three teams that raced in the Lebanon Valley Invitational.
The race took place at 4:30 in the afternoon, and the temperature hovered around 60 degrees for the entirety of the contest. The pattern of warm weather has been a surprise for the team this season, as the Bullets are used to the cold and windy fall weather that has been the standard in central Pennsylvania this time of year.
The Bullets scored 55 points in the race, which put them ahead of Mount St. Mary’s University, but behind first place finisher Messiah College.
The Bullets lacked a few of their top competitors at the event. Junior captain and frontrunner for the Bullets this season, Alex Petrecca, did not compete in the race. He ran a separate workout in preparation for races later in the season.
The Bullets sent ten racers to the competition, while Messiah sent twenty-two.
This greatly benefited the Messiah team in the race because team scores consist of the top five racers. Mt. Saint Mary’s only sent five racers to this event, which was just enough to yield a final score in the 8000-meter event.
The Bullets finished with a total team time of 2:23:24 hours for the five scores that were counted in the event. This contributed to an average time of 28:40 minutes per racer.
Head Coach Aubrey Shenk was incredibly proud of how the Bullets competed last week. He was especially happy with the steadiness of the top five racers in the event.
“Our 1 – 5 spread on the men’s side was 0:49 seconds, which was among the best all season,” Shenk said.
The top finisher for the Bullets was sophomore Aren Heitmann who finished the race in 27:44.3 minutes. Heitmann’s performance was a personal best for the season. His steady improvement throughout the season will be vital for the men’s team as the season matures into its final races.
Some new faces for the Bullets had a great impact in the race last week. First year Jack Kenyon and rookie senior Caleb Parker had personal bests in the 8k event as well.
Kenyon finished the race in 30:35.5 minutes, which earned a 40th place finish in the tournament. Parker finished the race in 29:38.4 minutes, which placed him 33rd in the field of 46.
The other two contributors to the team score were a pair of first years. Christian Rodriguez finished the race in 30th place with a time of 29:33.9 minutes, while Nicholas Kowigos finished with a time of 29:35.1 minutes to place him 31st.
The Gettysburg Men’s Cross Country team has faced difficult competition this season, but has performed exceptionally well against these staunch opponents. The Bullets compete in the Centennial Conference, but are not limited to that conference, as many of their oppositions have been from Division I and II schools.
These challenging races have all been preparing the Bullets for the Conference Championship to be held on Gettysburg’s home course this weekend. The race will test the preparation and stamina that the Bullets have been working on all season.
Shenk is optimistic that the Bullets will race well in the Centennial Conference Championship next weekend.
“Our performances are really good positive indicators going into the Conference Championship Meet this coming Sunday on our home course,” he said.
The race will take place Sunday at 11:00 a.m. beginning on Gettysburg’s intramural fields. It is the last race where the entire team will compete. The race will set the precedent for the NCAA DIII Mideast Regional Event, where the Bullets will have the opportunity to qualify for a spot in the DIII National Championship to be held November 18.