The Shippensburg University men’s and women’s cross-country teams will compete at the Division II National Championships in Pittsburgh on Dec. 1.
After a two-week extended season, both men and women continue to compete among the best.
Both the men and women clinched a spot at nationals as one of 34 teams based on their regional standings. From Aug. 20 to now, the Raiders have trained through the blazing heat of preseason and the heavy snow of the regional meet. The Raiders remained focused and disciplined throughout the season, so they can compete until December.
The women’s team finished third overall in the NCAA Atlantic Regional Championships in its last outing. The Raiders had 96 points, right behind Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) rivals in the California University of Pennsylvania (UCAL) with 87 points and the winner Edinboro University with 64 points. Sophomore Natalee Serwatka led the team in the 6K with a ninth-place finish with a time of 24:46.
“We’ve prepared mentally and physically for this race and how to get here. Having run this course at regionals, we’re knowledgeable to visualize the upcoming race and prepared to race under any conditions,” senior Jackie Kinkead said.
The women took first at the PSAC Championships with 71 points over Edinboro with 75 giving them good momentum into the ongoing championship season. Serwatka led the Raiders with a sixth-place finish and a time of 24:14, followed closely by sophomore Isabella Marchini with a time of 24:26.
“I think our strong suit is that we train all together. It helps during races to have your other teammates around knowing we can all work together,” said senior Lindsey Gerlach — an All-PSAC Second-Team finisher in 2016.
Similarly, junior Maria Antoni said it is a lot easier for them to pace themselves in competition after running together every practice.
On Nov. 17, the men’s team placed second at the NCAA regional meet in the 10K with 76 points behind the University of Charleston West Virginia with 62 points. Senior Dominic Stroh led SU with a ninth-place finish, running 35:22 in the 10K. Senior Sean Widener scored 13th with a time of 35:32.
“We’ve been running all season on tough, muddy courses, and have a history of doing well in the 10K, so both these things will play well for us. Coach Spence has geared our training all year around performing well at this meet by getting in tough hill workouts and hilly long runs all season, while allowing plenty of time for us to recover,” Weidner said.
The men took second as a team at the PSAC conference meet, with 62 points. They were just behind Edinboro with 48 points. Graduate student Albert Schrimp led the Raiders with a ninth-place finish and a time of 27:18. Finishing a step behind was Stroh in 10th running 27:19. It was both Schrimp’s and Stroh’s best finishes.
Nationals is unique from the rest of the season because it is the pinnacle of the season and one great race here is more important than running well at all of the other races,” redshirt-sophomore Connor Holm said. Holm is looking forward to the meet to hopefully improve on the team’s 10th-place finish from last season.
The championship race will kick off at Schenley Park in downtown Pittsburgh this Saturday at 11 a.m.