Michael Runco and the Panthers will race at Penn State on Friday.
Sept. 11, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- Pitt cross country will return to action on Friday, taking on a stacked field at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational hosted by Penn State at University Park, Pa. The Panthers' youthful women's squad will kick off the weekend with a 5:30 p.m. race followed by the men at 6:15 at the Blue-White Golf Course.
It isn't often that Pitt makes the trip to Penn State. The last time the Panthers competed at the Spiked Shoe Invite was in 2006 and only one runner on either the men's or women's rosters has ever competed at University Park. Senior Stephanie Powers raced in the 2010 Penn State National Invitational as a freshman, finishing 192nd at the meet.
Back in 2006 the Pitt men finished fifth as a team at the Spiked Shoe Invite, led by Tim Konoval's eighth-place showing. The women were 14th in the team standings with Monica Bhattacharjee leading the way in 51st.
Other historical moments for Pitt at the meet include the 1990 men's squad's showing in which the Panthers won the team title. Keith Dowling also took first individually, an accomplishment that was repeated in 1993 when Frank Nesko won the individual title.
This year's Panthers will attempt to leave their own mark on the meet on Friday, building of just one previous competition so far this fall. The Duquesne Duals two weeks ago may have been particularly valuable for the women's team as it gained experience. Four of its top five runners at that meet were sophomores or younger. The top three - Hillary Boxheimer, Morgan Perry and Cayla Del Piano - were each making repeat appearances at the Duals. Boxheimer and Perry both knocked nearly 20 seconds off their times from the previous year.
The men's side proved to be a bit more veteran with only one of Pitt's top five being younger than a junior. Like their female counterparts, two of the three who had raced at the Duquesne Duals the previous season lowered their times substantially. Rich Addison, who led the Panthers with a fifth-place finish, was nearly 50 seconds faster, while Michael Runco was more than three minutes faster in 2013.
After having two weeks between meets, Pitt will race on back-to-back weekends. Following their trip to Penn State, the Panthers will compete at the St. Vincent Invitational on Sept. 21 in Latrobe, Pa. Races are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.
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