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By Alyssa Palfey, GGoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's cross country team won their fifth-straight Harry Groves Spiked Shoe invitational this Saturday at their home Blue and White Courses.
The Penn State women had four runners place in the top ten. Redshirt-sophomore Tessa Barrett won the meet, breaking the 16-year-old meet record set by Katie Jazwinski of Michigan in 2000. Barrett ran the 6k in a time of 20:31, over a minute faster than she ran last year in this meet.
"I'm really happy with how I performed today. We've been working hard as a team these past few weeks, so it's great to see all the hard work come to fruition," said Barrett. "I had no idea what the course record was, I was just trying to run as strong as a race as I could to put my team in the best position possible. I'm so proud of how we did today as a team."
Junior Elizabeth Chikotas came in second overall with a time of 20:53. Chikotas also made her way on the meet record board, setting the third-fastest time ever ran at this meet.
"It feels really good. We stayed as a pack, we worked together," said Chikotas. "It's just good to come together and run well on a really hot day on our hard course and get a good one under our belts."
Jillian Hunsberger came in next for the Nittany Lions, placing fourth overall (21:13). Freshmen Kathryn Munks came in tenth overall (21:29). Following was redshirt-sophomore, Greta Lindsley (22:03), Victoria Crawford (22:13) and Rachel Banks (23:08) coming in 20th, 24th, and 33rd, respectively.
"It feels awesome. The 6k is a real grinder, you know it's really hard, very big difference from the 5k even though it's not too much more," said Munks. "We have a great team and a really young team this year, they push us in workouts and races. It's awesome to be around them. This is the best team I could've picked. I'm so happy I did."
The women were pleased with their first big meet of the season, but still felt the meet on the home course was challenging.
"It's a hard course, but it is forgiving because you do have these downhill segments to open up your legs. At the same time, it's pure cross country because your gate is constantly changing. You don't get to get in a good rhythm like you do if you're on a track," said Chikotas. "You're just constantly opening up then going short strides. It's brutal, but I definitely say the whole thing is hard."
"The most challenging part of the course is the final gradual incline after the three-mile mark. At this point, the legs are feeling pretty heavy and you still have a ways to go until the finish line," said Barrett. "We have a challenging course, but I'm happy about that because it makes us tougher competitors and gives us a great home course advantage."
The men's team was led by junior, Tim McGowan, who placed fifth overall (26:35). McGowan felt good about his first big meet of the season on the tough course.
"It's awesome. We always try to say, save it for the end, not to hammer it, but I felt pretty conservative," said McGowan. "The last 3k, it started to go at 3 miles, initially you feel good, but then you really start to try to find a happy place, as they say."
After McGowan for the Nittany Lions was redshirt-senior, Bobby Hill (27:29), John McGowan (27:31), Jaxson Hoey (27:47) and Colin Abert (28:49), who finished 26th, 27th, 33rd and 55th-place, respectively.
The men's team came in fifth overall.
The Penn State cross country team will next be action in Minnesota for the Annual Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 24th.