Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Freshmen earn KIAC titles


Two freshmen cross country runners have been making a name for themselves in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) so far this season. 

Eric Torres and Katie Guarnaccia have both received KIAC Runner of the Week honors multiple times this season. Torres has received the honor every week that he has competed for a total of four times and Guarnaccia was announced as the Runner of the Week for the second consecutive week on Sept. 29. 

The men’s and women’s teams were both off this week after competing at the Lock Haven Invitational on Sept. 27. There, Torres finished 21 out of 199 male runners in the 8K race with a time of 26:23, his fastest 8K of the season. Guarnaccia finished 21 out of 171 female runners in the 6K race with her time of 23:23. 

Guarnaccia’s time set the Point Park women’s 6K record, helping her pick up her second straight Runner of the Week award. Guarnaccia beat the previous record of 23:54 that was set by teammate senior Hanka Jiraskova in 2013. 

The previous week, she was one of only three runners from a school other than the University of Pittsburgh to place in the top 10 at the St. Vincent Invitational. She led Point Park to a second place finish out of 17 teams, earning her first Runner of the Week award. 

“The first time, it was just really cool, as a freshman, to get that recognition. The second time, it was less of a surprise,” Guarnaccia said. “To get it twice was just great.”

Torres has already set the bar high for himself and says that he now feels he enters each race with a target on his back. 

“It’s not fun. It makes me train harder,” Torres said. “Knowing that people know who you are and they’re going to be looking out for you, it’s a little scary.” 

Torres is from Robstown, Texas and came to Pittsburgh to run for Point Park’s new track and field team. He is running cross country on the side. He will be competing in the 5K and 3K events when the track and field season begins. 

Guarnaccia came to Point Park after a strong career at North Allegheny High School, where she was a two-time Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) meet qualifier.

Unlike Torres, Guarnaccia doesn’t think about having a target on her back and never has.

“The other people around me don’t affect my running,” Guarnaccia said. “I’m going to run my race no matter what.”

Guarnaccia’s teammates are recognizing her hard work, including freshman teammate Alexis Sherman.

“When I met Katie, I knew the dedication she had was going to help her flourish throughout the season,” Sherman said. “No matter how she’s feeling, she just pushes herself and won’t stop.”

Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams have their eyes set on the KIAC Championship Meet on Nov. 8. Four meets into the season, the teams have just three more to prepare for the KIAC meet. 

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Championship Meet will follow the KIAC meet on Nov. 22 in Lawrence, Kan. 

Advancing to the National Championship Meet is becoming a real possibility for both Torres and Guarnaccia. 

“It would be a great accomplishment just saying that I went as a freshman,” Torres said. 

Guarnaccia said that making it to nationals would be the ultimate payoff for the hard work that she put into the season. Sherman is hoping to lower her own times while also cheering on Guarnaccia. 

“Seeing her improve more and more each week is so inspiring to me,” Sherman said. “I know how hard she’s been working, and I’m so happy to see how far she’s come, and I’d really love to see her make it to nationals.”

Torres and Guarnaccia will continue their seasons on Oct. 11 at the Carnegie Mellon Invitational.

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