Point Park Women’s and Men’s Cross Country finish 5th & 6th at Carnegie Mellon Invitational

Written By Antonio Rossetti, Co-Sports Editor

On Oct. 9, Point Park Cross Country competed in their third meet this year, where they competed in the annual Carnegie Mellon Invitational. The Pioneers ran at a familiar course at Schenley Park, competing against 12 other schools for men and 14 other schools for women.

Last year, the Carnegie Mellon Invitational was canceled. The Pioneers’ last meet at the Invitational was on Oct. 12, 2019, where they finished 5th of 12. This year, the runners were excited for their chance to run at Schenley Park.

For women’s cross country, they competed in the Carnegie Mellon Invitational for the first time in two years. In 2019, Point Park finished 4th out of 15 teams and was led by senior Alyssa Campbell, who finished the 5k in 18:36.57, which earned her first place out of all runners.

This year, the women’s team finished the 5k 5th out of 15 teams. Duquesne came in first place with 43 points, followed by Clarion in second and Carnegie Mellon in third. The Pioneers trailed the 4th place held by IUP by nine points.

Point Park’s top runner was Campbell, who finished second out of all runners. Campbell finished the 5,000 meter in 19:06.7. Following Campell in the top seven were senior Alyssa Boyd (21:04.3), sophomore Allison Plassio (21:04.7), senior Alyssa Frausto (21:53.3), junior Natalia Zucco (22.16.9), freshman Amanda Lisotto (22.25.7), and freshman Sophia Lee-Hauser (23.07).

Alyssa Campbell had yet another impressive finish. The senior runner has been providing success for the team all year, finishing in second out of all runners in the Bethany Invitational and in twelfth out of all runners at the Lock Haven Invitational. Although Campbell finished in the top 2, this wasn’t a personal record for her, and she said she believes that there is always room for improvement. Nevertheless, she said she is proud of her team and their relentless effort.
“This course was very emotional for a lot of people, so I think some people had a really good race,” said Campbell about the Pioneers’ return to Schenley Park. “

I saw the finishes of some of my girls, and you could tell that they put everything out there and that’s what I was really proud of. I’m so proud of them for putting in that effort.”

— Alyssa Campbell

Campbell looks forward to seeing the team’s effort going into the NAIA Great Lakes Challenge. She said she enjoys helping others and creating a family atmosphere for the team. Campbell has led the team in run times throughout her career. As a sophomore, Campbell realized her leader-like role and would lead by example.

As a freshman, Campbell looked up to former Point Park runner Anna Shields, and she inspired Campbell to establish her role as not only a leader but an amazing teammate. Campbell, the women’s cross country captain, believes that the key to team chemistry is sportsmanship. Campbell is currently the Pioneers’ full-time captain and she uses that role to improve others.

“I was a part-time captain and now this year, I’m the captain. It feels really rewarding. I love cheering for my team, I love talking about their race, but genuinely I don’t need that role,” Campbell said. “I love, in general, talking to them about races because this is what we do, this is something I’m really passionate about.”

Campbell said she enjoys when running mates tell each other how one another can improve. The senior runner doesn’t view herself as only a captain or leader, but more of a friend or family member. Campbell strives for the team to have a family atmosphere and positive team chemistry. She said she believes that every teammate has a role that helps the team. Campbell is excited to see how the team will fare at the NAIA Great Lakes Challenge and hopes for a better result.

“We’re gonna come back stronger,” she said. “We’re going to work on getting healthy since today didn’t go as planned. We want to use that as motivation going into the next race. It’s gonna be good.”

This year, the men’s team finished the 8k 6th out of 13 schools. Duquesne earned first place, followed by Carnegie Mellon in second place and IUP in third. Duquesne runners made up the top 3 of all runners, including first place senior Mark Provenzo, who finished the 8,000 meter 26:07.9.

For the Pioneers, they trailed the 5th place Glenville State by eight points. The runners would finish with 170 points. Point Park’s top runner was freshman Jannik Windelband who finished the 8k in 28:02.7. Junior Deven Carter finished right behind Windelband in a time of 28:08.6 and freshman Elijah James was third for the Pioneers in 28:38.2. Freshman Isaiah White (28:44.5), freshman John Dyar (28:55.7), and senior Doug Kostelansky (29:02.7) made up the next three of the top seven Pioneer runners.

Rounding out the top seven for the Pioneers was John Ziegler. The junior runner finished the 8,000 meter in 29:19.8. Although Zeigler finished lower than usual, he has been instrumental in leading the team, earning himself September Athlete of the Month. Ziegler, the men’s captain, had an impressive showing at the Bethany Invitational, leading his team with an 8k time of 28:41. His leadership motivated the younger members, and he said they continue to improve.

“We had a lot of young guys step up today. They really showed some grit and some toughness on a not-so-easy course. I think we had at least three freshmen in our top five, which [means] there’s a lot for our future,” Ziegler said. “It really shows that we have a bright future ahead for the team. And it’s just a lot to build on. Some of us upperclassmen are here to help them improve and just get better every day, whether that’s in practice or at the meet.”

The production for the young runners gave the Pioneers momentum before the NAIA Great Lakes Challenge on Oct. 23. Ziegler and the team’s chemistry continues to increase, and he said he expects the Pioneers to fare well against their fellow NAIA schools.

“As a team, we’re growing closer to one another, and it’s really establishing a family atmosphere. I think that’s going to bode well for success,” Ziegler said. “When it comes to conferences and the Great Lakes Challenge, I’m very excited to see how we end up this year because I think it’s going to bode well for us.”

Men and women’s cross country continue their season on Oct. 23 in Grand Rapids, Michigan when they compete in the NAIA Great Lakes Challenge.