Fayette completes debut cross country season with nationally-ranked runner
“I’m very excited to have had the opportunity to coach these dedicated runners this year,” reports Matt Girod, the team’s head coach. “I’m really pleased with the first year.”
Hartsek, who missed the first month of the season with an injury, won the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Invitational on Oct. 2, her first race back. Her posted time of 20:43 is the fifth best time in the nation and in the nation for a 5K race, which qualified her for the national championships. She followed up her success at Wilkes-Barre by finishing second in the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) championships with a 6K time of 26:52. At the national championship meet, Hartsek posted a time of 25:24 for the 6K race. She was the third highest Penn State runner in the event, trailing only Penn State Wilkes-Barre’s Maureen Suchecki and Amber Martin.
“It was really a good experience and I had a chance to meet some of the other runners, which was nice.” Harstek said of her opportunity to compete in the national championships.
Teammate Stacy Lloyd finished in the top 10 in several of the team’s meets, and was 10th in the PSUAC Championships. Lauren Flannigan finished 18th in the PSUAC meet. Both Lloyd and Flanigan were named to the USCAA National All-Academic team.
On the men’s side, Bill Boger was consistently the team’s top runner, and Matt Stepanik and Steven Lazar made steady progress throughout the season.
“All of our runners consistently improved their times each race,” Girod notes.
Girod says the team’s runners all helped the program get started in a positive direction. “My goal the next few years is the increase the participation numbers of the team, but it will be hard on me as a coach to see these kids go. Not only were they hard workers, but they have received a worthwhile experience competing in collegiate athletics while maintaining positive attitudes and great personalities,” Girod adds.
“To have a runner finish eighth in the nation in our first year of cross country, that’s pretty amazing,” notes Vince Capozzi, athletic director. “We had some very dedicated student-athletes this year who have helped to lay the cornerstone for what I believe will be a successful cross country experience in the future. I could not be more proud of them.”