Shippensburg University´s men’s and women’s cross-country teams finished a successful weekend with two, a team and an individual, Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championship titles on the men´s side and a fifth-place team finish on the women´s side.
Bloomsburg University hosted the PSAC Championship on Saturday in very windy, but dry, conditions during the race. The men competed in an 8K, while the women raced a 6K.
After a thrilling race, sophomore Garrett Quinan won the individual championship on a late charge and was only the third Raider, after Gregg Sanders in 1980 and Chayce Macknair in 2021, to do so. Quinan also led the men´s team to its first team championship since 2017.
Senior Aiden Gonder (26:04.4) ran for second place, only six seconds behind Quinan (25:58.3). Sophomore Ryan Wolfe and graduate Hayden Hunt finished fourth and fifth, respectively, making Shippensburg´s runners go 1-2-4-5 in the race.
Graduate Nathan Harding rounded out the scoring runners with a 14th-place finish, which made SU finish in the team standings with 26 points ahead of Slippery Rock (65 points) and IUP (105 points).
Early in the race, a group of Slippery Rock runners, including the former Raider Joey Cintavey, took charge of the pace together with individual runners from IUP and Edinboro, but that did not influence the Raiders tactic, as head coach Steve Spence described.
“We talked about setting it up through halfway and then moving from that 4K mark, and they executed really well,” Spence said in a post-race interview with the PSAC network.
The Raider runners kept up with the others but did not proactively control the pace in the first half of the race, but early on it was clear that the team championship would be between SU and Slippery Rock.
At the 5k mark, Quinan, Hunt and Gonder were all still in the leading group consisting of them and three Slippery Rock runners. Between the 5K and the 7K marks, Quinan created separation between him and the rest of the pack. Gonder tried to follow and created separation between him and the rest of the pack as well, and neither would slow his pace down to finish 1-2.
Wolfe was in the seventh position at the 5K split and in sixth at the 7K split, but a late charge from him over the last 1,000 meters made him pass his teammate Hunt and a Slippery Rock runner to finish fourth.
Hardin was another SU-runner with a late charge. After being in 26th position after the first 3K, he continuously made up places to finish 14th.
The non-scoring runners also put up good performances: Senior Kevin Wagner finished 18th, freshman Brennan Wellock finished 31st in his debut at PSAC Championships and senior Ian Sherlock, freshman Jackson Gutekunst and junior Jake Lawson rounded out the lineup.
The five scoring runners all finished with all-PSAC first-team honors and Wagner finished with all-PSAC second-team honors. Wellock narrowly missed the all-PSAC honors by one spot.
The women´s team finished fifth in the team standings, after being ranked eighth in the preseason coaches’ rankings. Slippery Rock won the championship in front of Bloomsburg and Edinboro.
Sophomore Livi Rieck once again served as the frontrunner for the team and finished ninth in 23:31.9 in the race that was won by defending champion Kylie Anicic from Edinboro. Rieck showed a strong race and was within the Top 10 for most of the race. Her ninth-place finish earned Rieck her first all-PSAC first-team classification, after finishing second team the previous year.
Senior Belle Weikert and sophomore Morgan Hess finished 27th and 28th in 24:21 and 24:27 respectively, both earning all-PSAC second team honors. It was the first scoring effort of their career for both of them.
Junior Victoria Mattioli served as Shippensburg´s fourth scorer, finishing 32nd in 24:35 in her championship debut for the Raiders.
Redshirt-freshman Faith Wilson also made her debut at the PSAC Championships. She rounded out the scorers for the Raiders with a 49th-place finish in 24:58.
Both the men and the women will return to practice now, before they head to Lock Haven in two weeks to compete at the 2023 NCAA Atlantic Region Championships, where the race for the ticket to go to the national championships will be on.