The Elizabethtown College men’s and women’s cross country teams competed at the Galen Piper Alumni Open/XC Challenge at Shippensburg University Friday, Sept. 1. The men placed fourth with 107 points and the women took third out of seven teams with 58 points.
On the men’s side, sophomore Samuel Gerstenbacher led the Blue Jays as the only Etown runner to finish in the top 20 of the 108 runners in the meet. Gerstenbacher broke his 6,000-meter personal best from last season with a time of 20:04.
Junior Tyler Alansky finished 21st with a time of 20:14 and senior Tommy Fitzgerald finished right behind in 22nd with a time of 20:18.
Sophomore Christopher Myers also managed to place in the top 30, coming in 26th with a time of 20:28. Sophomore Ryan Rippeon was the final scorer for the Jays coming in 31st in 30:38. All five runners set personal records at the meet.
On the women’s side, senior Brenna McNamee dominated the field, breaking 15:00 in the 4,000-meter for the first time in her career, edging out Tessa Cassidy from Dickinson College by one second to win the race with a time of 14:58.
Senior Kelsey Brady set a personal record, taking sixth place with a time of 15:05. Senior Maria Anderson was right on her personal best time, placing 15th with a time of 15:27. Junior Colleen Kernan and first-year Kaitlin Donahue also scored for the Blue Jays, placing 16th and 21st, respectively.
In addition to a new personal record, McNamee’s impressive performance earned her first individual career race win. McNamee was also the recipient of the Landmark Conference Cross Country Athlete of the Week award.
The Blue Jays were back for their home opener Saturday, Sept. 9 on their brand new course for the fifth annual Blue Jay Alumni Challenge.
Alumnus Adam Harriger, ‘16, was the race winner on the men’s side, running the 5,000-meter course in 17:18. Fitzgerald took second in 17:23 and Alansky finished third in 17:25.
Former XC All-American Zach Trama, class of 2016, finished one second behind Alansky and Gerstenbacher rounded out the top five, finishing in 17:26. The Jays ultimately bested the alumni, finishing with 23 points.
The women also defeated their alumni opponents 36-21 with their five scorers finishing in the top seven.
Eileen Cody, ‘14, won the women’s 4,000-meter race with a time of 15:56. McNamee took second place behind Cody with a time of 16:00. Brady, Anderson and Donahue finished third through fifth, respectively.
Ashley Underkofler, ‘15, was the other scorer for the alumni, placing sixth with a time of 16:49.
Kernan was the final scorer for the Blue Jays, taking seventh place with a time of 16:51.
With a strong start to the season, the men’s and women’s teams are both predicted to finish at the top of the Landmark Conference, which they have both done all three years of running in the conference.
The men and women will both be on the road again next Saturday, Sept. 30 for the Dickinson Long-Short Invitational at Big Spring High School in Newville, Pennsylvania at 11:15 a.m.