Princeton men’s cross country’s first-year and varsity starters participated in their season opener on Saturday, tearing up the eight-kilometer course at the Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh University. In a race of over 600 competitors, all 15 of Princeton’s runners ranked in the top 50; the Tigers put seven in the top 10. Only 43 seconds separated the Tigers’ first and 15th finisher.
Senior Conor Lundy and first-years Camren Fischer and Connor Nisbet finished fourth, fifth, and sixth, completing their first race of the season at the front of the Princeton pack in 24:30, averaging 4:56 per mile on the grass fields of Lehigh’s campus. They were closely followed by junior Matt Grossman, senior Viraj Deokar, and junior Eli Krahn, who placed seventh, eighth, and ninth.
The Tigers intended to run the race as a group. “Our goal going in was to pack up and run all together up front. It was our first time out there this season, so we wanted to get our freshmen some experience moving up to the 8K distance,” said Lundy.
Running eight kilometers is a quite a transition for first-years, who raced five-kilometer cross country races throughout high school.
“Overall,“ said Jack Stanley, a first-year who finished the race in 12th place, “my first 8K was definitely difficult, but also a lot of fun.”
While elaborating on the experience, he said, “I think it benefitted the other freshmen and me a lot to run with some of the experienced upperclassmen that could lead us through our first time and help us pace correctly.”
The Princeton men, currently ranked 23rd in the nation according to the USTFCCCA 2019 NCAA DI Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll, will take things up a notch in two weeks, traveling to Wisconsin to compete against nationally ranked teams at the Nuttycombe Invitational.
“We were pretty happy to finish nine guys all together,” said Lundy regarding the Lehigh race, “and it sets us up to compete hard in Wisconsin against the top teams in the nation in two weeks.”