SU cross country: Ranked #10, Raiders head to championships

Ranked #10, Shippensburg University women’s cross country team has its eye on improving last year’s 7th place win as they travel to Kutztown for Friday’s 2021 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championships.

The 6K race for the conference title begins at noon.

Shippensburg enters the conference championships ranked #10 in the Atlantic Region. The Raiders will be competing against the likes of regionally-ranked conference foes such as Seton Hill, defending champion Edinboro, Slippery Rock, Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, Gannon and the host Golden Bears.

READ: Paul Short Run: Kyra Gerber paces SU cross country

The goal

Head Coach Steve Spence says the goal is to improve upon the team’s seventh-place finish at the 2020 PSAC Championships held back in March of this year. SU ran eighth in 2019 after winning the conference title in 2018.

Among the key returners for the Raiders are All-PSAC performers Kyra Gerber (Dillsburg, Pa./Northern York) and Isabelle Gulgert (Herndon, Va./South Lakes). Gerber, a senior and two-time All-PSAC finisher, placed 15th at the 2020 championship meet held in March. Gulgert, a junior and two-time All-PSAC finisher, ran 22nd in March.  

New to the Raiders this season has been graduate Lyndsey Payne (Mansfield, Pa./North-Penn Mansfield (Mansfield)), who has emerged as the team’s No. 3 runner. Payne is an All-PSAC First Team performer who placed 12th for Mansfield in 2019.

The potential exists for at least three Raiders to achieve All-PSAC First Team performances. The key to its success on Friday will be the finishes that are delivered by the No. 4 and No. 5 scoring runners.

Numerous Raiders have served as the team’s No. 4 and No. 5 runners this season, including freshman Sadie Hostler (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Mechanicsburg Area), senior Sydney Morgan (Ephrata, Pa./Ephrata), senior Jade Fry (Harveys Lake, Pa./Lake-Lehman). sophomore Belle Weikert (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty) and junior Amanda LaVana (Emmaus, Pa./Emmaus).

How the team is training

Friday’s race will be the first for the team in three weeks, as its last competition was Oct. 1 at Lehigh.

“Our women and men took a couple of days to recover from the Paul Short Race and then they ran their highest mileage week of the season,” Spence said. “The following week consisted of a long run, a long interval session, and a threshold workout. We will taper this week and workouts will include a variable pace tuneup session on the track.”