BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Saturday morning's 46th Paul Short Run was a big one, and senior captain Zach Michon was up for it. In an immense field of 380 racers, Michon took home a remarkable 21st-place finish as the Saint Joseph's men's cross country squad placed 27th in a field of 44 teams at Lehigh University's Goodman Campus. The Hawks averaged 24:51 for 8k en route to 688 points.
Michon flew through the course in a collegiate-best time of 23:53.3, the first sub-24:00 8k of his collegiate career and a PR by 46 seconds. The senior used a 4:48.4 mile average to seal the top 25 finish, coming through the finish line and off the course to a mass of cheers from family and teammates.
The time is the fastest ever by an SJU runner over Lehigh's 8k course.
"In this race in particular, the placement in the beginning is really important," said Michon following his performance. "One of my goals going in was to put myself up front so I could stay with that lead pack. Throughout the race, I just kept hanging on. I picked out a few in the crowd that I wanted to keep up with to gauge where my race was. I really wasn't sure how fast I was going until I came through 5k at about 14:55. Once I hit that, I knew it was going to be fast. I just kept my head down and kept grinding through it. Coming down that last straightaway and seeing that time on the clock, I was just ecstatic. I got that second wind to carry me through."
"Zach raced very well, especially over the last 3000m," added 31st-year head coach Mike Glavin. "He did what we talked about but found himself at only 55th or so at the 5k mark. We also talked about pushing that last 3k, and he did that as well as I could have expected."
Despite the lower-than-anticipated team finish, SJU's top seven finishers recorded new 8k PRs on Saturday.
Senior captain John Walker (129th, 24:46.8 PR) and junior Matthew Scarpill (145th, 24:51.6 PR) crossed as Saint Joseph's second and third runners while in just his second collegiate 8k, freshman Colin Kane came through with a nice PR of 25:02.7 (183rd), improving upon his first collegiate 8k set three weekends ago at George Mason by over an entire minute.
Senior Colin Gallagher (275th, 25:36.8 PR) rounded out the scoring for the Crimson and Gray as the Hawks' #5 finisher while classmate Antonio Amaral (280th, 25:37.4 PR) and sophomore Ben Bunch (308th, 25:57.1 PR) finished as SJU's #6 and #7 runners.
"As for the team place, we let a national-class opportunity slip away, no doubt about it," added Glavin. "Walker and Scarpill ran fast but found themselves running along in spits rather than racing aggressively. Kane, Gallagher, and Amaral raced very well over the last 3k, but we couldn't overcome the 'off day of racing' that a couple of our top guys experienced. We'll look to rectify those at PSU in a couple of weeks."
In the 8k Open Race, sophomore Zach Smith led the way with a collegiate-best time of 25:44.3, good for 98th in the non-scored field of 604 racers. The time is an improvement upon his previous 8k PR (27.20.9) by a near minute and a half.
"It was really good to run on a dry, fast course this year," said Smith following his race. "I knew coming into it that there would be a lot of competition, and I just tried to pick people off the whole time and do the best I could. It's a big PR, so I'm really happy."
The Hawks will take next weekend off from outside competition but will return to action the following weekend, splitting up to race the Penn State National Invitational in State College, Pa. on Friday, October 18 and the Lafayette Leopard Invitational in Easton, Pa. on Saturday, October 19.