Austin Gabay ran a huge 8,000 PR Friday and was Duke’s fifth finisher at the Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh.
Gabay, a Cinnaminson graduate and a sophomore at Duke, led a large contingent of South Jersey runners, covering the historic 8,000-meter XC course at Lehigh’s Goodman Campus in 23:44.
He placed 62nd overall in the men’s Gold race. Overall, his time was 62nd-fastest of nearly 1,200 runners in the four races.
Gabay’s previous-best 8,000-meter time was a 24:10 at the 2020 ACC Championships in Cary, N.C. That was actually his last 8,000 XC race before Friday at Lehigh.
Although Gabay was Duke’s 5th finisher, he crossed the line only 24 seconds behind Duke’s 1st finisher, Matyas Csiki-Fejer, who was 16th in 23:20. He finished only 42 seconds behind overall winner Parker Wolfe of North Carolina. The first 100 runners finished within a 57 seconds of each other.
Duke placed 5th with 157 points, behind only UNC , Villanova , Utah State  and Georgetown . Duke is ranked No. 8 in NCAA Division 1 Southeast Region.
Cherokee grad Jack Shea was St. Joe’s top finisher with a lifetime-best 24:18 in his second race as a Hawk. His previous all-course 8K PR was a 24:36 back in September of 2018 as a freshman at Northern Arizona at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational in Verona, Wisc. Shea graduated from NAU in the spring and is now a grad student at St. Joe’s. He ran 13:44.57 on the track last spring at Stanford.
Three seconds behind Shea was Bishop Eustace grad Connor Melko, a senior at Lehigh. Melko ran 24:21 on his home course and was the Engineers’ top finisher. That’s also a big 8,000 PR for Melko, whose previous fastest 8K was a 25:24 on Lafayette’s Metzger Field course last September.
Also under 25 minutes was Cornell sophomore Brady Shute from Woodbury, who ran 24:36. His fastest previous 8,000 was a 24:50 at Lock Haven last weekend.
Yale’s Martin Riddell, a sophomore from Haddonfield, ran 24:41, more than a minute and a half faster than he ran on the same course last year. Riddell ran 26:24 at Paul Short last year and that was his fastest previous 8,000.
Matthew Coffey, a St. Joe’s senior from Camden Catholic, ran 24:46, his first time under 25 minutes for an 8,000. His previous personal-best was a 25:31 at last year’s Paul Short. His teammate, sopohmore Colton Johnson from Paul VI, was four seconds back. It appears to be his first collegiate 8,000. Another St. Joe’s runner from South Jersey, Eastern’s Aidan Groff, also dipped under 25 with a 24:52. That’s an 8,000 PR by more than a minute. He ran 25:55 at Paul Short last year.
The winding, twisting course in Bethlehem (with a brief forway into Hellertown) was used for the 1979, 1983 and 1993 NCAA Division 1 Championships.
Nearly 150 schools from around the country raced Friday at Lehigh at the 48th annual running of the Paul Short Invite.