Shields wins, leads fast return to course

Cross country teams have best-ever start to season

Written By Robert Berger, Co-News Editor

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Junior Anna Shields won the Walsh University Women’s Cross Country Invitational Saturday, breaking a school and personal record.

Freshman Alyssa Boyd recorded the fastest time of any Point Park freshman making their cross country debut.

Junior captain Sean Hilverding of the men’s team finished 15th overall to start the season with his own personal record.

The Point Park cross country teams are both off to the fastest starts in program history.

“We’re pretty stacked from top to bottom and we’ve never been this deep on either side,” head coach Kelly Parsley said.

Led by Shields, four Pioneer women finished in the top 25 out of 77 finishers. Shields maintained an early lead and finished in 17 minutes, 19 seconds, which was six seconds ahead of Walsh University’s Sarah Berger. Shields broke her shared school record by 1 minute, 2 seconds.

“I’ve been doing the stuff pro runners do to be their best,” Shields said. “I’ve been eating better, doing core, lifting and other things that pro runners do to be their best.”

Placing behind Shields for the Pioneers was Boyd. Making her debut as a Pioneer, Boyd finished seventh overall with a time of 18 minutes, 39 seconds. According to Parsley, it was the best freshman debut in program history. She also ran for the sixth-fastest 5k in program history.

“This is the fastest team Point Park has ever had, and I’m excited to see us improve this year,” Shields said. “It’s only the first meet and we’re better than ever.”

Also finishing in the top 25 for the Pioneers was junior Kara Rohlf who ranked 17th overall with a time of 19 minutes, 32 seconds. Behind Rohlf was freshman Kayla Roberts who made her debut as a Pioneer. Roberts finished in 19th place with 19 minutes, 51 seconds.

“This is the best start we’ve ever had,” Parsley told his team after the meet. “I’ve said you are exceeding my expectations during preseason, and again, you’ve exceeded my expectations.”

On the day, the women’s top-five finishers averaged a course time of 19 minutes, 5 seconds, which was the best in program history. Each returning member ran at least one minute faster than their time put up at last year’s meet.

It was Hilverding who led the men’s team to its  fourth-place finish out of six competing schools.

“I didn’t know what to expect coming into today,” Hilverding said. “But I felt really good and I did better than how I expected myself to perform, so I can’t complain.”

Hilverding’s personal record time of 26 minutes, 14 seconds was 1 minute, 20 seconds better than his time from last year’s Walsh Invitational, where he finished 27th overall.

He said high-milage runs prepared him for the start of the season. According to Hilverding, there were weeks in the offseason where he put up nearly 80 miles while also working on speed and hill training.

Sophomore Xavier Stephens also finished in the top-30 with a time of 27 minutes, 8 seconds, which placed him at 30th overall. Stephens beat his time ran last year on the course by 2 minutes, 1 second.

“I put in a lot of miles this offseason and I feel a lot stronger than I did last season,” Stephens said.

Overall, the men’s top five earned an average time of 27 minutes, 14 seconds which is the second best in program history. The Pioneers also had 15 men break the 30-minute mark. They had just four men under 30 minutes last year.

Freshman Brody Mihalyo was one of those 15 who made his Point Park debut and ran the course in 29 minutes, 26 seconds. 

“I started out a little fast but felt calm, cool and collected once I went through it,” Mihalyo said. “I broke 30 my first race, so I feel like I accomplished a lot.”

On the day, each returning member of the men’s team beat their time ran on the course at last year’s meet by at least 15 seconds.

Point Park travels to the Lebanon Valley Dutchmen Invitational this Friday for the second meet of the season.

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