XC Ready for Saturday’s PL Championships
EASTON, Pa. – The first Patriot League Championship events of the season will be held at Colgate this Saturday, with men’s and women’s cross country titles up for grabs on a day which begins with the men’s 8K race at 11 a.m.
Lafayette will be competing in Hamilton, N.Y., for the first time since the 2012 conference championship meet. The Leopards have run in four meets during the regular season portion of their schedule, and are looking to be in top form for this weekend’s races.
“Each race we’ve been getting a little better,” distance coach Jen Buirkle said. “And that’s always the goal, to keep improving. I feel like we’re in a pretty good spot heading into the Patriot League meet. Everyone’s confidence has definitely gone up after each race.”
Colgate has a notoriously hilly cross country course, one that is similar to the slopes found on Lafayette’s home course at the Metzgar Fields Athletic Complex. The Leopards will be hoping to use their familiarity with hills to their advantage on Saturday.
“We’ve been really focusing on the hill workouts this year,” men’s co-captain Andrew Morra commented. “I think that with all of the work we’ve been doing, we’ll be ready on Saturday.”
“You get used to them,” sophomore Mikayla Pacilio added. “Our paces for our hill workouts have been getting faster and faster. Hopefully we’ll be able to show that at Colgate.”
It’s been a familiar top five in recent weeks on the men’s side, with Morra, Kelvin Serem, Thomas Day, David Sadvary and Matt Weintraub finishing as Lafayette’s scoring runners in each of the past three meets. Serem has led the way in every race this season, though little has separated the group in terms of finishing times.
“They’ve all been improving little by little each week,” Buirkle remarked. “They’ve been in the same order for the most part, but because they’re so close to each other, that order can change at the drop of a dime.”
The Leopards will be aiming to improve on a ninth-place finish last fall, while Navy will be searching for its third-straight men’s championship. Day, who is the only male on the team to have raced at Colgate previously, is the top returning runner from last year’s conference meet, where he placed 68th.
“After running this year, and seeing some of the teams that we will be racing against in the Patriot League, we know we can beat them,” Morra said. “We’re right on their tail. I’m really excited to see where we finish.”
Stephanie Benko has paced the women’s squad for the past two seasons, and the senior will attempt to build on her 35th place showing at the 2014 conference meet. Pacilio, Alexa Kwapinski and Emily Moore have also finished in the top five at every race this season, while Jennifer Salvatore and Zoe Nagasing were among the scorers for Lafayette at last year’s championship.
“The girls have been even closer together in terms of their one-to-five split,” Buirkle said. “So I expect them to still stay close at the Patriot League meet, but they also know that they need to move up as a group in order for us to do better as a team.”
The women matched the men’s ninth-place result in 2014 after an eighth-place showing in the previous year. Boston U. emerged as the league champion in each of those seasons, with the Terriers going for a three-peat on Saturday.
This will be the sixth time that Colgate has hosted the championship meet. Results from Saturday’s races will be posted shortly after their conclusion here.
“The goal each year is to get a little bit better than the previous year,” Buirkle concluded. “So far, based on our previous races, we have gotten better as a team. There have been a lot of positives that we’ve seen, not only in practice but in the races. So I do expect us to do a little bit better this year, and I’m very hopeful that we will.”