The men’s cross country team tied the Penn State Nittany Lions for second place on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at the Penn State National Invitational. With a score of 101 points, the Red put in a solid performance against 19 other teams from the eastern side of the country.
Despite a second-place finish, the team was a little disappointed by its loss to Syracuse, who scored 68 points.
“I think most of the guys feel that we could have run a lot better as a team,” said junior Sage Canaday.
The team’s disappointment is slightly surprising considering every runner finished in the top-40 out of 200 total runners. Canaday finished fifth with a time of 25:52, the highest finish on the squad. Junior Jimmy Wyner finished sixth — and was edged out by Canaday at the finish line — with a time of 25:53. Both runners ran with the lead group from the start and had high hopes of winning until Lock Haven’s Ryan Blood broke free of the pack in the final mile to finish first.
Sophomore Zac Hine, who finished third for the Red and 27th overall, had one of his best performances with a time of 26:29. Freshmen Charlie Hatch and Owen Kimple finished fourth and fifth, respectively, for Cornell, giving the team hope for future improvement.
But, the solid performance was not enough to satisfy the Red. The men’s runners have set high expectations for themselves with Heps and Regionals just around the corner — both within the next month.
“This certainly was a step in the right direction for us but by no means are we where we need to be,” said men’s distance coach Robert Johnson.
The goal for this team is to have all of its top runners performing well at the same time. In the weeks leading up to Heps and Regionals — the most important races of the season — the team intends to train hard and improve its fitness.
Interestingly, the Penn State course, which is set up on the Penn State Golf Course, is 5.2 miles long, which is a slight increase from the usual length of 4.96 miles. This nuance may have played a part in the team’s performance falling below expectations.
“Our team is still kind of unsatisfied,” Canaday said. “When we have all our cylinders firing we will be a lot more competitive as a team.”