BETHLEHEM, PA – Both of the University at Buffalo's cross country teams finished in the middle of the pack against some of the toughest competition they will see all season as the Lehigh University Paul Short Invitational races were held Friday afternoon.
With both teams racing in the gold division, the highest of the seeded competitions, the UB men finished 18th among 37 teams with 517 points while the women took 29th place among 40 schools with 770 points. The Villanova men (69) and Cornell women (55) won the team titles. The fields included 11 of the Northeast Region's top 15 women's squads and 12 of the top 15 men's teams, including the UB men, ranked 12th in the latest USTFCCCA polls.
UB's top men's finisher was Zach Ahart who took 52nd place among 332 racers in the 8K competition. Ahart finished in 24:57, more than 20 seconds ahead of his pace at the UB Stampede Invitational on September 15 when he placed second. The remainder of the Bulls' scorers finished within seven seconds of each other. Mike Pressler was 122nd in 25:39. Alex Saavedra was 124th in 25:41. Zack Krause was 130th in 25:44 and Austin Coneys was 136th in 25:46, setting a season-best time.
The UB women, racing for the first time this season at 6K, stuck together throughout the competion with the top four finishers placing within 24 seconds of each other. Senior Shelby Janutol led the women in 22:23 to place 132nd among 360 entrants. Freshman Kaitlin McCadden was 152nd in 22:35. Sam Beim was 163rd in 22:40 and Emma Denton was 176th in 22:47. Gabby Leo was UB's fifth finisher in 23:09 to place 216th.
Speaking for the UB men, assistant coach Todd Witzleben said, "Overall we are pleased with the progress so far this season. Our gap between one and two is still a bit too big but two through five is very tight," he said. "As we move through the next few weeks of training, we expect to close that gap. That is the goal by MACs and regionals."
Head coach Vicki Mitchell remarked about her women's performances. 'Being in the seeded race with several nationally ranked teams was encouraging. Our women closed strong over the last 2K of the course and made up a lot as a group. We beat some regional teams and greatly improved our performance over a year ago. We have room for improvement but are heading in the right direction."
The Bulls return to action on Saturday, October 13 at the Princeton Invitational.