The NIRCA Princeton Invitational has been a staple of the PRC competitive team for years, and it's typically the biggest non-championship XC focus of our team. The 2016 edition of the meet was no exception as the top stars of PRC got to shine with individual wins on both the men's and women's side against a historically stacked club-only field.
The women were the first to be whistled off. Despite a lingering cold, longtime PRC standout Liz Novack was determined to break in to the 22s and possibly run away with a win. Liz shot off the line and by 3000m into the race, it was clear it was going to be no contest as Liz crossed the line in 23:04.1 to win by a staggering 53 seconds. But Liz wasn't the only PRCer to finish well as this was her first race alongside freshman Ruby Pan, who was able to finish 6th earning a coveted Princeton Invitational T-Shirt Award in 24:16 against a very stacked and tactical field that included the defending national women's champions in Penn State. Sophomore Eden Harris's good season continued as she split the second-fastest 6K of her life in 27:37.8, while Diana Kafkes was just behind in 27:40 making good progress and getting nice race experience in on the long road back from injury. Alissa Johnson's consistency also showed as she clocked 29:28.9, a performance arguably better than her 29:24 at Lock Haven when the relative difficulty of the course is considered. All in all, the women finished 6th out of 11 club teams at the meet.
Twelve men toed the line next, headlined by 2015 NIRCA XC All-American Ian Whittall. The last time Ian raced an 8K without coach Geraint Davies by his side, he dominated the 2015 PSU Brandywine Invite to win by a full minute and five seconds by pulling away early and never looking back. Facing much tougher competition here Ian was impressively able to pull off a similar strategy to win by nine seconds in 25:44.7. Behind him, sophomore Chris Hendry clocked 26:18 to finish 8th, agonizingly just one place out of the awards but still a nice PR. Possibly the biggest pleasant suprise of the meet was Kyle Heubner's amazing 23-second PR just behind to finish in 27:00.5, demonstrating insanely impressive range from 800m to 8K. Next up was freshman Anthony Ciro who moved up throughout the race and broke 28 minutes in his first ever 8K to hit 27:55, the fastest freshman time so far this year. Sophomore Yosef Robele finally had the race he was looking for in tow with a nice PR to hit 28:21.6. Yosef's breakthrough was important for the team as he was our last scorer at this meet, his points earning the team a much-deserved 3rd-place title of 13 teams competing. Workout duo Cornell Overfield and Harry Prevor got out conservatively in 5:45 and cut it down from there through three miles, with Cornell ultimately taking the best of the two to split 28:29 while Harry had trouble keeping his form with the yo-yo pace but still split 29:25. Expert PRC navigator David Gordon had a very positive race as he knocked nine seconds off his PR to finish in 29:42.5, as Jonas Peschel had a huge two-minute PR of 32:24.2 helped no doubt by good pacing in his 2nd 8K ever. Sophomore track specialist Johnny Forde showed he can mix it up on the XC grass as well with a 33:11.0 to debut in the 8K while freshman Koby Frank also ran his first ever collegiate XC race and finished in 33:49.9.
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