XC Starts Season on High Note in Coach’s Final Year

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

Sam Sheldon (L) and Alex Petrecca were two of the top three finishers in the team’s annual alumni race (Photo Courtesy of Gettysburg College Athletics)

By Brody Tennant, Staff Writer

Last Saturday, the Gettysburg College Cross Country teams held their 42nd Annual Cross Country Alumni Race, a tradition where past cross country runners return to Gettysburg College and race against current members of both the men’s and women’s teams.

The race was five kilometers, just over three miles, with the current Bullets easily defeating the past graduates. The women’s team won 23-33 and the men’s team won 21-36.

The winner of the women’s race was Sarah Fritz ‘10, who finished with a time of 20:49. Taking second was First-Year Amanda Addesso at 21:44, and sophomore Amy Cantrell, who finished at 22:06, claimed third.

For the men, the current Bullets easily won the day, with six members of the team finishing in the top ten. Senior Sam Sheldon finished in first with a time of 16:13, and junior Dylan McKeever finished second at 16:31. 2019 graduate Alex Petrecca took third with a time of 16:38.

In total, the women’s race featured seven alumni, and the men’s had 24.

The Alumni Race was not the only news to come out of the weekend for both cross country teams, as head coach Aubrey Shenk announced that, after 35 years at Gettysburg, he will be retiring following the 2019 season. Shenk served for the past ten years as the head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams.

“Objectively and subjectively, I think now is the time to leave as a full-time coach of both sports at the end of this cross country season,” said Shenk. “I began with cross country here as a part-time assistant coach with Ed Riggs ’77 and I decided I wanted to finish with cross country. I care deeply about this program, this department, and this school.”

“I wanted to ensure as much as possible that the student-athletes in the program have the right coaching staff in place to move forward and to have the opportunity find out how to become the best they can be. I believe that to be the case at this time,” he added.

Coach Shenk’s ties to Gettysburg go back much further than his coaching days, to the 1960’s when he competed against Gettysburg as an athlete from Juniata College. He began his coaching career at Gettysburg as a part time cross-country coach in 1984.

“I want to thank Aubrey for all of his years of service to the athletic department,” said Mike Mattia, Gettysburg’s Executive Director of Athletics. “He has mentored countless numbers of cross country and track and field student-athletes while also helping produce all-time record holders and several individual personal records. His calming presence, demeanor, and positive attitude have always benefited his athletes, especially on race day.”

Throughout the course of his coaching career, Coach Shenk has coached nine all-region performers, seven all-Centennial Conference finishers, and four national qualifiers. In 2017, Elizabeth Hilfrank ‘18 earned All-American recognition at the NCAA Division III Championship, the first female Gettysburg runner to earn that accolade in 36 years.

The Bullets are looking forward to having a successful season and sending Coach Shenk out on a high note. After the season, the athletic department will begin a search for his replacement.

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Author: Brody Tennant

Brody Tennant ’21 is from New Castle, Pennsylvania who is majoring in History and minoring in Peace and Justice Studies. While having to semi-retire from playing sports, he has started to write about sports for the Gettysburgian. He also hosts a radio show on 91.1 WZBT.

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