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Eagle Cross Country Invitational set for Saturday

(Posted September 21, 2007)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Over two dozen high schools, six junior high school squads, and 10 college teams will be participating in the Juniata College Eagle Cross Country Invitational, slated to be held this Saturday, Sept. 22, at Fort Roberdeau Historic Site and Natural Area outside of Altoona, Pa. The first race at 9:10 a.m. will be the Junior High 2.5 km event. A new addition to the Eagle Cross Country Invitational last year, the junior high race has grown significantly in 2007 and now includes 37 boys and 42 girls from six schools. The High School Girls 5 km race kicks off at 9:45 a.m. This race will feature five teams that finished in the top ten last year. Bishop McCort finished second last year, and is the top returning team this season led by junior Kelsi Yingling. Other top ten returnees include: Sherando (4th), Baldwin (6th), Penns Valley (7th), and Somerset (9th). The top returning individual is Allegany senior Lauryn MacFawn, who finished seventh last year. She is the only top-ten finisher from last year making a return appearance in 2007. The College Men\'s 7.5 km race begins at 10:30 a.m. The top five teams from 2006 will be back in the line-up this year, including team champion Robert Morris University. Robert Morris returns two runners who finished in the top ten individually last year, Phillips Thompson (4th) and Kevin Forsythe (10th). Bucknell finished second last year and returns one top-ten finishers from a year ago in Zak ElManakhly (9th). The host Juniata College squad finished third in 2006, and returns top-ten finishers Matthew Bailey (7th) and Shawn Rumery (8th). Saint Francis University finished fourth last year and return with both the 2006 champion, John Balouris, and runner-up David Holliday. Penn State Altoona finished fifth last year, and will be led in the 2007 event by Zachary Berger, who finished 29th last year. Also expected to challenge for the team title is Slippery Rock University, a team that dominated the Indiana (Pa.) University Invitational last weekend. Led by two-time All-American Jeff Weis, \"The Rock\" will compete at the Eagle Invitational for the first time. Frostburg State University\'s cross country team is another first-time squad at the Eagle Invitational, bringing with them a resume that includes winning nine of the last ten Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) championships. Messiah College, which finished 11 in the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships last fall, will be another first-time entrant in the event. Other teams include Hagerstown (Md.) Community College, Shenandoah (Va.) University, and an alumni squad from Juniata College that boasts three-time event champion and course record holder Chris Sheaffer. The High School Boys 5 km race commences at 11:15 a.m., and features a rematch of the top two teams from a year ago. Sherando (Va.) High School won the team title in 2006 by a two-point margin over Baldwin High School of Pittsburgh. Sherando returns three runners who finished in the top 15 - Colby Witt (11th), Danny Stiefvater (12th), and Sean Whitson (13th) - while Baldwin will be bringing a new lineup to the 2007 Eagle Invitational. Other top ten returning teams are Canon-McMillan (4th), Bishop McCort (9th), and St. Mary\'s (10th). Canon-McMillan boasts the top two returning finishers from last year\'s race in Kyle Gibson (2nd) and Julian Rankin (6th). Bishop McCort is led by junior Jim Spisak, who was challenging for the lead of last year\'s race before succumbing in the last half mile of the race. McCort\'s roster also includes Mike Garver, who finished 10th last year. At noon, the College Women\'s 5 km race is the final event of the day. Last year\'s top six teams all return in 2007, as well as all of last year\'s top ten individual finishers. Defending champion Bucknell University returns four of last year\'s top ten individuals to defend their title: Molly Burke (4th), Lisa Prybella (7th), Ashley Behre (8th), and Erin Heidecker (9th). Robert Morris University finished second last year, and the Colonials return three of last year\'s top five finishers in hopes of capturing the team title: Brittany Strite (2nd), Emily Ingle (3rd), and Sarah Antonaitis (5th). Juniata College finished third last year, and return top ten finishers Meghan Jones (6th) and Aubrey Cyphert (10th). Saint Francis University returns this season after finishing fourth in 2006, and their roster includes the event\'s defending champion, Allyson Sheehan. Penn State Altoona finished fifth last year with Shenandoah University in sixth. New to the field this year are Frostburg State University, winners of seven of the last ten AMCC Championships; Messiah College, which finished eighth in the 2006 NCAA Mideast Regional Championships; Slippery Rock University, which boasts two national qualifiers; Hagerstown (Md.) Community College; and an alumni squad from Juniata College. 2007 EAGLE INVITATIONAL ENTRIES College Bucknell University Frostburg State University Hagerstown Community College Juniata Alumni Juniata College Messiah College Penn State Altoona Robert Morris University Saint Francis University Shenandoah University Slippery Rock University High School Allegany Baldwin Bedford Bellwood-Antis Bishop McCort Blairsville Canon-McMillan Chestnut Ridge Elkins Homer Center Kiski School Marion Center McConnellsburg Meyersdale Mountain Ridge Penns Manor Penns Valley Philipsburg-Osceola Richland Rockwood Shanksville-Stonycreek Sherando Somerset St. Marys United West Branch Williamsburg Junior High Baldwin Bishop McCort Canon-McMillan Philipsburg-Osceola Somerset St. Marys

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.