After two second-place finishes and one third to begin the season, the AU men’s cross-country team broke through by taking home first place at the Leopard Invitational Oct. 13 in Easton, Pa. Placing four runners in the top six overall, the men cruised to the title in a field of 13 teams. On the women’s side, the Eagles placed eighth out of 13.
As has been the case throughout the year, performances from Mark Allen and John Pope led the way for the Eagles. Allen placed second overall in a time of 25:06.99, and Pope was right behind his teammate in 25:10.15 for third place. The only runner to cross the finish line ahead of the AU duo was Temple’s Travis Mahoney, who took the individual title with a time of 24:55.45.
Mark Leininger continued the strong afternoon for the Eagles with a fifth-place finish in 25:18.50, and Nick Regan was sixth in 25.19.97. Constantine Matsakis (11th, 25:43.09) and Tom Woermer (12th, 25:43.92) rounded out the team’s performance.
The team totaled 27 points for the victory and notched their second consecutive win at the event after taking home the title in 2011. Penn finished second with 55 points, and Temple third with 78.
On the women’s side, Julia Sullivan led the way with a 31st-place finish in 22:40.23. Carly Birkhold was the next finisher for the Eagles, in 35th at 22:48.80, and Ali Tyburski came in at 38th (22:51.37). Penn emerged victorious in the women’s competition, registering 21 points to finish well ahead of second-place Pittsburgh.
For his performance, Allen was named the GEICO AU Student-Athlete of the Week Oct. 15. Allen’s performance at Lafayette was just the latest in a series of top finishes this season for the senior.
Allen and the rest of the Eagles will be back in action in less than two weeks when they head to Hamilton, N.Y., for the Patriot League Championships Oct. 27.
The Eagles were predicted to finish second in the Patriot League on the men’s side, and sixth on the women’s when the conference unveiled its preseason poll in August.
Navy will be the team to watch at the championships, as the men have won four straight conference crowns while the women have won three championships in the past five seasons. Both Navy squads were selected first in their preseason polls.