Oct. 9, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- Pitt cross country continues its busiest stretch this weekend, but this time around the Panthers are staying close to home. Pitt will compete at the Carnegie Mellon Invitational on Saturday at Schenley Park. Races begin at 11:45 a.m.
Unlike last weekend's trip to the Notre Dame Invite, racing at Schenley Park and in the CMU Invite is quite familiar to the Panthers. The women competed in the meet last fall, placing 11th in a field of 17 teams. Elizabeth Tabor was Pitt's lead runner, while names from that race such as Stephanie Powers, Jenna Moen, Mallory Hudson and Deanna Felicissimo still grace the Panthers' current roster.
The Pitt men's squad took a year off from the meet last fall, making their last appearance at the CMU Invite in 2011. Ben Kisley was the Panthers' lead runner that day as Pitt placed seventh in the team standings.
Kisley was one of several Panthers active at last week's Notre Dame Invitational where the senior placed seventh on the team and 139th overall in South Bend. Pitt saw a fair amount of shuffling in its lineup at Notre Dame. Michael Runco took the team lead for the first time in his career, finishing 26th overall. Wes Roberts also moved into Pitt's top five and Chris Montgomery into the top seven for the first time in their careers.
Even with the shuffling, Pitt's leading three have been a thing of consistency. Although no one Panther has led the team in more than one race - Rich Addison took the honor at the Duquesne Duals and Cullen Davis did so at the Penn State Spiked Shoe Invitational - no one has been able to break up the trio of Runco, Addison and Davis. Each of those three has been among the first Panthers to cross the finish line in every meet Pitt fielded a full team.
The women's lineup continued to see movement last week as well, as Morgan Perry was the first Panther to clock in for 37th overall. Perry's five-kilometer time at Notre Dame was a major improvement over her 5K time at the season-opening Duquesne Duals. A month after running 19:08.7 at the Duquesne meet, the junior dropped that time to 18:33.6 in South Bend.
Not surprisingly, Perry was not the only Panther to see her time improve from the beginning of the season. At Duquesne, only Hillary Boxheimer was the only runner to post a sub-19:00 race, clocking in at 18:58.8. On Friday at Notre Dame, there were three under 19 minutes thanks to Perry, Rachel Brown (18:45.3) and Boxheimer (18:46.8).
Although runners like Perry, Brown and Boxheimer often making up the lead pack for Pitt, it would be a mistake to overlook consistent contributors farther down the lineup such as Alexandra Cady. Cady is the only Panther to compete in all four meets this year.
Despite the grueling schedule, the sophomore has placed among the team's top 10 each time out and has even posted her top finishes in the last two meets. At the St. Vincent Invitational in September, Cady was second on the squad and fifth overall. She then scored for a second straight week at Notre Dame, earning the No. 5 spot on the team and taking 94th in the field.
Championship season is quickly approaching for the Panthers. Following Saturday's races, Pitt will compete just once more before the ACC Championships in Winston-Salem, N.C. (Nov. 1). The teams will return to Indiana on Oct. 19 for Pre-Nationals, hosted by Indiana State in Terre Haute.
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