|Follow PSU Cross Country:||Follow @PennStateTFXC|
Sept. 13, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On a cold, wet Saturday morning/afternoon, the Penn State men's and women's cross country teams both captured team titles at the 2014 Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational. Fifth-year senior Matt Fischer (Kennett Square, Pa.) captured the individual title in the men's race as he finished the 5.2-mile course in a time of 26 minutes, 12 seconds and on the women's side, freshman Elizabeth Chikotas (Hellertown, Pa.) tallied a third-place finish to lead the Nittany Lions; Chikotas finished the 6,000-meter race in 21:04.
The No. 29 Penn State women tallied a score of 27 points to claim the team title, while No. 13 Syracuse finished second with their score of 38 points and No. 20 West Virginia took fifth with a score of 133 points.
On the men's side, seven points separated the top-three teams. Penn State claimed the men team title with their score of 41 points. No. 8 Syracuse and No. 29 Georgetown finished second and third, respectively with their scores of 47 and 48 points.
Volunteer assistant coach Kara Foster won the women's race running unattached with her time of 20:57.
In the women's race, the Nittany Lions had a great day on the course from their entire squad. The top-eight Nittany Lions all finished in the top-20 on the day. Leigha Anderson (Carlisle, Pa.) and Jillian Hunsberger (Pittsburgh, Pa.) finished fourth and fifth, respectively with their times of 21:12 and 21:16.
"The women ran great as a pack through the early part of the race, Syracuse's women's team sat in their own pack right behind our pack and really made a run at our runners over the last mile and a half of the course," interim head coach John Gondak said. "Our runners responded very well and competed and ran tough. The last mile and a half of this course is very challenging. To have two freshmen in our top-three was fantastic. We have a lot of depth on the women's team, which is exciting."
Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) finished just inside the top-10 with her ninth-place (21:33) finish. Crossing the finish line seven seconds after Gerlach was Katie Rodden (Ardmore, Pa.). Rodden placed 11th with her time of 21:40.
Stephanie Aldrich (West Chester, Pa.), Lauren Mills (West Chester, Pa.) and Abbie Benson (Elma, N.Y.) were the three other Nittany Lion runners to finish in the top-20. Aldrich took 14th (21:45), Mills finished 18th (21:53) and Benson claimed 20th (21:58).
In the men's portion of the Spiked Shoe, a total team effort led the Nittany Lions over nationally-ranked competition.
Including Fischer's first-place finish, four Penn State men finished in the top-10. Glen Burkhardt (Kennett Square, Pa.), Robby Creese (Mount Airy, Md.) and Wade Endress (Altoona, Pa.) all finished within five seconds of each other. Burkhardt placed fourth (26:16), Creese finished eighth (26:19) and Endress rounded out the top-10 with his time of 26:21.
"Georgetown and Syracuse are both excellent, excellent programs. It was a big home win for us; anytime you can win on your home course, it's a great feeling," Gondak said. "The way the race played out, it was a very tactical competition through the first three and a half miles. Then it just turned into who was willing to lay it on the line over the last mile and a half on the course. Our course, the last mile and a half is the toughest part. I think today's results show that we have a tough team. They pulled through in the end and Matt [Fischer] won the race and held on to a close win over two very successful programs in Syracuse and Georgetown."
"I just wanted to go out there and have fun. I think we did a great job as a team and I couldn't be more excited where everyone is at, because we are heading into the right direction this year," Fischer said.
Conner Quinn (Horsham, Pa.) rounded out the Nittany Lion scoring with his 19th-place (26:33) finish. Ean DiSilvio (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Austin Pondel (Columbus, Pa.) finished 21st (26:35) and 35th (26:56), respectively.
"We have some real distance depth on this team and these guys are ready to compete with some of the best teams in the nation," Fischer said. "We can go head-to-head with them and hopefully we can show some people what we are made of."
This is the third-straight year that the women have won the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe team title and the second-straight year that a Penn State runner has won the men's race (Creese, 2013). This is also the first time since 2003 that Penn State won both the men's and women's team titles.
The Nittany Lions do not compete again until Oct. 3, when they travel to South Bend, Ind., for the Notre Dame Invitational. The Notre Dame Invitational will be the first meet that will count towards NCAA Championship points.
For more on Nittany Lion cross country, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.