June 24, 2019 | 72° F

Rutgers returns to Lehigh for Paul Short Run

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

The Rutgers women’s cross country team will end September by running in the 44th-annual Paul Short Run 6-kilometer race hosted by Lehigh at the Goodman Campus Cross Country Course in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on Friday.

The Paul Short Run is the largest intercollegiate cross country race in the nation with nearly 6,000 athletes from 450 collegiate and high school programs participating, according to the Lehigh Athletics website.

The Scarlet Knights will be participating in the Women’s College Gold 6-kilometer race at 11:45 a.m.

In the competition Rutgers will be facing several U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) nationally ranked programs, including No. 15 Villanova, No. 21 Utah State, No. 23 Georgetown and No. 24 Mississippi State.

In 2016, the Knights placed 42nd overall out of 44 teams, with an overall team score of 1179, according to the Track and Field Results Reporting System (TFRRS) website.

No. 28 Yale took its first women’s team championship at that race, earning an impressive 92 points.

This year, Rutgers is looking to make a solid leap in yet another crowded field of established Division I cross country programs.

Sophomore Emma Bergman, who has been one of the top runners for the Knights in September, is strategically prioritizing the familiarity of the course at Goodman Campus in yet another benchmark race for the team.

“Our main goal is to run as a pack. We know this course really well,” Bergman said. “We’re going to try and stick together and definitely drop some time from the last race. It’ll be a good marker to see our improvements and how our training is paying off.”

In that first race at the Goodman Campus course, which was held earlier this month at the Lehigh Invitational, Rutgers placed second overall with a team score of 53 points.

Bergman placed 11th overall with a finishing time of 22:23.61.

Knowing the field will likely be stacked against them, the sophomore emphasized the team’s need to move past the 22-minute mark as the Knights’ latest objective.

She also placed importance on the familiarity factor of the course for the NCAA Cross Country Regionals, which will be held at Lehigh in early November.

“For a lot of us, our goal at this course is to break 22 minutes,” she said. “This is also the course where the (NCAA) Regionals meet will be held at the end of this season. That’s another reason we’re looking to drop time in this race and hopefully down the line at Regionals.”

Though Bergman detailed the importance of progression at the Paul Short 6-kilometer, she also recognized the race as another building block in the development of the youth of the team.

Freshmen and sophomores like Olympia Martin and Bergman have been consistently leading Rutgers this season.

Martin has also had a memorable September, leading the Knights in both of their races.

Bergman is hopeful that trend will continue this season and in the future as the squad continues to train with and compete against each other.

“It’s definitely really exciting to have such a young team and have everyone so close together. We’re definitely building the program overall,” she said. “It’s cool to know we’re going to be working together on this team for a few more years to come. I’m excited for the future and even for this season just to see what we can do, how we can improve and move up overall in the Big Ten and just keep getting better.”

For updates on the Rutgers women's cross country team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Kevin Stapleton

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