By Erin McNulty
The women’s cross country team continued their strong start to the 2015 season with a 4th place finish at the Hornet Harrier/Commonwealth Challenge invitational, hosted by Shenandoah University. Ten teams participated in the meet. Fresh off a 3rd place finish the week prior at the St. Mary’s College Seahawk Invitational, the Cardinals battled not only opposing teams, but also the course itself. Held at Kernstown Battlefield in Winchester, Virginia, the hilly, difficult course is a preview of what the women’s team will face at the NCAA Division III Regional Championships in November.
Despite the difficult course, all five of Catholic’s scoring runners placed in the top 30 for the second week in a row. Standout freshman Melissa Hiatt led the charge for the Cardinals once again, earning a 7th place finish with an impressive 20:39 time for the five-kilometer race. Hiatt was named the Landmark Conference Cross Country Athlete of the Week a week earlier after posting a time of 25:07 (six-kilometers) and a 13th place finish at the Seahawk Invitational, leading the Cards to their best team finish of the season so far. Following Hiatt as the second runner in for the team was sophomore Justine Piraino, finishing 19th with a time of 21:29. Senior Cristina Butrico and sophomore Erin McNulty were close behind, finishing 21st and 25th, with times of 21:40 and 21:52 respectively. Senior and team captain Erin Schlegel rounded out the scoring for the Cardinals with a 29th place finish and a time of 21:57. Freshmen Theresa Matula and Carolina Zimmerman finished 31st and 43rd overall, completing Catholic’s top-seven varsity.
After the growth and improvement the team has made since last season, senior team captain Erin Schlegel is very excited for what the rest of the 2015 season has in store.
“I am so impressed and excited by the unbelievable progress that the team has made so far! Each person has improved in just the three meets we have had. The team has so much potential and I am looking forward to see what we can accomplish at conferences this year! I really think we have it in us, if we keep working together, to place pretty high!” said Schlegel. The Cardinals will continue their season at the Paul Short Invitational hosted by Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania this Friday, October 2nd. Landmark Conference teams Scranton, Susquehanna, and Moravian will be competing in the meet, as well as many other area college teams. Race time is 1:45 PM.