Cross country team takes PAC championship

by Megan DePrimio, Staff Writer

Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams have performed outstandingly this season. The men captured the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Championship, and the women won second place.

Shattering Grove City College’s twenty year hold over the PAC Cross Country title, the men took home the first ever PAC Championship for Saint Vincent College.

Senior captain Michael Stevens said of the team’s success, “Winning the PAC Championship was a great accomplishment for the team. It was a goal we had in our minds for a very long time. Winning the school’s first ever PAC Championship is a memory that we will have for the rest of our lives.”

Head Coach Andy Herr and Assistant Coach Steve Snider were pleased with how the team performed.  Coach Herr, PAC Coach of the Year, stated, “Winning the PAC Championship was a great thrill for the team…it was the highlight of a great season, and for me personally, it was one of the best moments of my coaching career.”

With a team of driven individuals, the men set high goals for this year. Coach Herr said, “For me, the primary goal each year is improvement. This year, the vast majority of our returning runners have improved significantly over last year. In this regard, our primary goal this season was to win the PAC Championship. We knew that the goal of winning the PAC was a difficult one, but I think that it really focused our efforts in preparation for the championships. This team took care of the ‘little things’ better than any team I have ever coached, and I think this has been the key to our success this year.”

A unique and special characteristic of the men’s team was the companionship they shared outside of running.

“My favorite part about the team is being able to represent Saint Vincent through a sport that I love to do. We are definitely a close-knit group of guys and that is due to the fact that we respect one another,” Stevens said.

The men’s team competed in the Mideast Regional meet on November 13th. They entered the meet ranked 10th in the region, but exceeded expectations by finishing 6th out of 47 teams. Only the top five teams qualified to compete in the National meet, which will be held in Iowa on November 20th. Despite the team not being able to advance, freshman Chansler Poole qualified for Nationals as an individual.

Also representing SVC was the women’s cross country team, as junior Ivette Mejia won the individual PAC Championship with the team coming in second to Grove City.

Mejia, who was named 2010 PAC Runner of the Year, PAC MVP, and PAC Runner of the Week six times, has had quite an outstanding season. “Placing first individually was a proud moment for me. I have been working very hard since freshman year to accomplish my goal of winning the conference,” Mejia said.

Head Coach Tom Harbert is very proud of his team. “Finishing second in the PAC women’s was a result of a good solid race by our Lady Bearcat runners,” he said. “We had more medalists this year than any other year for the women’s team. Having a front runner is super and it was a great feeling seeing Ivette finish first in the conference. This year’s team is a special team that has focus and set goals to get us in to the national rankings.  They are hard workers on the course as well as the classroom.”

The team finished every race this year in the top ten, a goal of which Coach Harbert was proud.  “Some races found the field as high as 35 or more teams and nearly 300 runners–we did very well,” Coach Harbert said.

At Regionals, the women finished 18th out of 45 teams. While no individuals qualified for Nationals, the top five SVC runners ended up in the top half of a field of 314, with Mejia finishing 23rd. Despite not advancing, the experience of running against some of the top teams in the country will help the Lady Bearcats know what to expect for next year.

Additionally, both Mejia and Poole received medals for finishing in the top 35 runners, the first NCAA award that has been given to an SVC athlete.

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