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By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State women’s cross country team took advantage of running at their home course as they won the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational team title while senior Tori Gerlach won the individual title Friday.
A crisp, sunny day at the Blue-White Golf Courses didn’t bother the team captain Gerlach who has won both events for Penn State this year on the women’s side. She crossed the finish line victorious by a nine second margin. The finish line chute she ran through was lined with 297 American flags to honor the 2,977 lost on September 1, 2001 as it was the 14th anniversary of the tragic events.
The veteran runner knew the beginning of the race was all downhill then the last parts of the race were uphill. Gerlach used her mental edge to close in on the leader after having trailed by about 50 meters in the race. With about 200-400 meters to go in the race, Gerlach closed in and made the pass on the Syracuse student-athlete to earn the victory. She was really happy with the way she raced.
"I was very patient, our whole team was patient, and we ran really nicely. The first mile, the goal was to keep it pretty controlled, keep everyone together, and respond based off what the other team do. It's all downhill the first mile so it felt really easy, very controlled. One of the Syracuse girls made a move about a mile or two in and we made a huge surge after that and the race kind of started from there,” said Gerlach.
Gerlach’s performance was joined along with Elizabth Chikotas (3rd), Jillian Hunsberger (4th), Tessa Barrett (6th) and Greta Lindsley in the scoring (7th). Gondak’s two freshmen runners, Greta Lindsley and Tessa Barrett impressed all in their first races in the blue and white.
“I was very excited to see (the freshmen) compete in their first race in a Penn State uniform today to round out scoring and come out with a good win over a team that was ranked higher than us coming into the meet," said head coach John Gondak.
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