Men’s Cross Country finishes strong with regional competition

Sophomore Sam Sheldon (left) and junior Alex Petrecca (right) were the top Bullet finishers in Saturday’s race. (Photo Courtesy of Gettysburg College Athletics)

Sophomore Sam Sheldon (left) and junior Alex Petrecca (right) were the top Bullet finishers in Saturday’s race. (Photo Courtesy of Gettysburg College Athletics)

By John Zak, Staff Writer

The Gettysburg College Men’s Cross Country team concluded its season last weekend with the NCAA Division-III Mid-East Regional competition at Big Spring High School in Newville, Pennsylvania.

The team finished 29th out of 51 schools. The mid-east region spans from across Pennsylvania, down through West Virginia and over to Ohio.

The regional meet allows for a maximum of seven competitors from each team. The top five finishers of each team count towards the total team score, while the last two’s positions only count in the case of a tie.

This 29th place finish was led by the individual performance of junior co-captain Alex Petrecca and supported by a difference of only one-minute and 16 seconds between Petrecca and the final point scorer, junior Matt Robinson.

Petrecca has been a routine top finisher for the Bullets and placed 97th out of 365 runners in the competition. The pack leader clocked a time of 27:09 for the 8,000-meter course, tying his personal record.

Sophomore Sam Sheldon placed second on the team and 147th overall with a time of 27:46.

Sheldon was a high school soccer star, but he pursued track in college. Head coach of both cross-country and track-and-field Aubrey Shenk saw the first-year’s potential and encouraged Sheldon to join the fall running team.

His first season ever running cross-country, Sheldon proved to be a valuable asset this season.

Junior Mike Miller followed third for the Bullets and placed 165th overall with a time of 28:05.

Miller had been battling a stress facture in his shin for the better half of the season.

“My race was adequate,” said Miller. “I ran well and tried my best. I wish I pushed the middle harder and started off faster.”

The cross-country course at Big Spring High School is known for its funnel-like start and hilly middle 3,000 meters. Many on the team reiterated Miller’s complaints.

First year Connor Berson and Robinson rounded out the team’s scoring.

With a time of 28:09, Berson was the fourth Bullet to cross the finish line, and the 173rd individual overall. Robinson followed in fifth for the team and 193rd overall with a time of 28:25.

Each of the top five finishers has alternated between being the lead finisher throughout the season.

First year Dylan McKeever (205th) and sophomore Aren Heitmann (213th) finished as displacers for the Bullet squad.

“I think everyone on the team tried their hardest,” said junior Mike Miller. “Alex had a great race, helping us place to where we were.”

The meet itself was won by third-in-the-nation ranked Haverford College. Haverford’s own Graham Peet won the race in a time of 25 minutes and 23 seconds, and he was succeeded by two of his own teammates, Henry Woods and Ryan Herlihy.

All seven Haverford runners finished within the top-35, granting them each all-region status.

Second place was taken by Carnegie-Mellon University, followed by Johns Hopkins University, York College, and Dickinson College.

The performance by the Bullets men’s cross country team, and a look back at the season as a whole, has many runners optimistic for next year.

“Optimistic does not begin to describe it. Our top 8 are all returning,” said Miller. “If we all can stay healthy until the start of next season, and train hard, we can be a threat to many of the teams in our conference. We have lots of talent and dedication.”

“I am extremely optimistic about the team’s prospects next year,” said Petrecca. “We are returning with most of our top runners, having both senior experience and young talent waiting to develop.”

After a two-month rest, many of the cross-country runners will take to the track in January.

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Author: John Zak

John Zak '21 is a staff writer for The Gettysburgian who writes primarily for the sports section. He has covered a wide variety of sports including men's and women's soccer, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's basketball, baseball, and football. He is from Daytona Beach, Florida and is an avid fan of both the New York Yankees and New York Giants, while supporting the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in college football and basketball. He is double majoring in History and Political Science with hopes of attending law school after graduation. Follow him on Instagram @john_zak_iv_ .

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