Sophomore Grace McGrath’s 48th-place finish helped propel Gannon University’s women’s cross country team into 15th place at the PSAC Championships over the weekend in Kutztown.
Ultimately, the Shippensburg Raiders were crowned the PSAC victor after the 6-kilometer race, which featured 18 schools.
The Raiders’ own junior Casey Norton earned the individual PSAC title with a time of 22 minutes, 17.9 seconds, edging runner-up Chelsia Poole of Seton Hill by one-tenth of a second.
Rounding out the top five were Summer Hill of Cal U. (Pa.) at 22:38.4, Emma Sullivan of Edinboro at 22:40.2 and Caitlyn Reese, also from Shippensburg, at 22:49.7.
Eleven Golden Knights competed at PSACs. Among those who placed were freshman Allie Domer, 86th, in 24:25; sophomore Kate Robb, 103rd, 26:29; and sophomore Lauren Hanna, 104th, 26:34.
In her last PSAC showing, senior Hannah Merrifield placed 145th with a time of 27:40.
Merrifield is excited that the team is so young because she knows that the women will get better each year.
“Running my last PSAC championship race at Kutztown was an emotional experience for me because that is where my first PSAC championship race was as a freshman, so in a way it was the perfect race to wrap up my final season,” Merrifield said.
She explained that there have been many ups and downs but she wouldn’t change any of it.
McGrath and sophomore Kassidy Deuber recorded their fastest 6K times of their careers; Deuber finished in 105th with a time of 26:35.
The PSAC meet marked the fourth time that McGrath was Gannon’s top runner. It was also the first 6K in the careers of Domer, freshman Rebecca Campbell and sophomores Hannah Sekerak and Emily Dolan.
On top of her placement, McGrath was 30.3 seconds away from earning All-PSAC honors, which she wasn’t aware of before the race, but said later she would strive to reach that honor next year.
“ I am proud of my personal overall performance after reviewing the results from PSACs last year, but I’m more proud of my team,” McGrath said.
“This was some of their first 6K and first PSAC race and they really gave it their all and worked hard through the finish.”
In two weeks the Knights will hit the ground running at the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional hosted by Slippery Rock. The action begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Last year the Knights wound up 13th in a field of 23 teams.