South Jersey products Cole Pschunder, Luke Wiley and Dom Munson finished in an 18-second span to help Rutgers open the 2017 cross country season with a one-point win over Lehigh in the Lehigh Invitational over the weekend in Bethlehem.
The meet was held on Lehigh’s lower Goodman campus, the site of the NCAA Division 1 Championships in 1979, 1983 and 1993.
Pschunder, a sophomore from Eastern Regional, finished second overall in the field of 88 runners in 18:38, Wiley, a senior from Williamstown, ran seventh in 18:51, and Munson, a junior from Timber Creek, placed eighth in 18:54.
Conor Murphy, a graduate of Allentown High — which is almost in South Jersey – was Rutgers’ second runner, placing fifth overall in 18:51.
Rutgers outscored Lehigh 31-32 in the five-team meet. Rutgers went 2-5-7-8-9 for 31 points, and Lehigh went 1-3-6-10-12 for 32 points. So Lehigh was up 20-22 after four runners, but Rutgers’ fifth runner, Patrick Walsh, displaced Lehigh’s fifth runner by three spots to decide the meet.
Lehigh’s Joe Inglis, a Moorestown High graduate, placed 20th overall and was Lehigh’s ninth runner, just four seconds from the Mountain Hawks’ scoring pack.
Rutgers will race at historic Van Cortland Park this coming Saturday in the Fordham Invitational.
Toledo sophomore Amanda Bakley placed third in the Mel Brodt Invitational Friday with a time of 18:17 over 5,000 meters on a cold, windy day in Bowling Green, Ohio.
What makes this performance even more notable is that it was the first cross country race of her life.
Bakley, who ran 5:11 and 10:59 at Pennsauken and was also an All-America steeplechaser, never ran cross country in high school but at least based on her first race seems to have found a home running the trails.
Bakley ran as fast as 10:59 as a Pennsauken junior when she placed second in the 3,200 at the South Jersey Group 3 sectionals behind Devon Grisbaum of Ocean City. Bakley went on to place eighth at states and 15th in the Meet of Champions as a wild card entry.
Bakley, who played soccer in high school and also was an avid ice hockey player, red-shirted her entire freshman year at Toledo.
The Mel Brodt Invitational was really just a dual meet between Toledo and Bowling Green, and Toledo swept the top three places, with teammates Olivia Chinn (18:06) and Stephanie Barlow (18:08) preceding Bakley across the line.
Bakley will be back in action next Friday when Toledo races at the Illinois State Country Financial Invitational in Normal, Ill.
Alicia Belko, a Stockton University senior from Rancocas Valley, opened the 2017 cross country season with a commanding win over the field Friday in a dual meet with Rowan on Stockton’s campus in Galloway Township.
Belko covered the 6,000-meter course in 23:20.1, finishing 265 meters ahead of second place.
Belko, an All-America last spring in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, doesn’t have track eligibility remaining and is in her final year of cross country.
Rowan, with a largely South Jersey team, won the team title 35-24 over Stockton.
For the Profs, Hannah Vendetta of Pitman placed second in 24:31, with Jessica Nguyen fourth in 24:48, Alyssa Sanders of Pitman fifth in 24:50, Jennifer Klavens from Washington Township sixth in 25:04 and Grace Capone of Bordentown seventh in 25:33.