Cross country course may reach new lengths

Nate Bottiger, Staff Writer

Since the beginning of the women’s cross country program, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown has not hosted a home meet.

Coach Jim Bowser said he is working with the Pitt-Johnstown Athletic Department to expand their campus course and make it possible to have a home meet, even host a conference championship.

According to Bowser, the course is to be expanded by connecting it with the ski slope. The course is currently a 3.1 miles (5 km) women’s course and needs to be 3.7 miles (6 km) to have a home meet.

In order for Pitt-Johnstown to host a conference championship, a longer men’s course of 5 miles (8 km) would need to be created.

Bowser said the course expansion will not be done this year, which eliminates the campus from hosting a West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship.

Bowser said the course may be done before Pitt-Johnstown gets another opportunity to host a conference championship in 2015.  He said the extra four years makes it possible to expand the course the right way.

“We are fortunate to have a lot of land where we can expand.”

Bowser also said the addition of the ski slopes would help to make the course challenging and difficult.  Bowser said the course’s length also takes out the repetitiveness of the course.

Sophomore Amber Emery said the extended course would help during practices by putting the team through a workout that includes hills.

“It would also be a better gauge of the length of the distances we run during practice,” she said.

Senior Emily Doll said that Bowser is eager and excited for the expansion, but the expansion is not a guarantee and is still in the planning stage.

For the time being, Emery said the team is using what they currently have, and that the coach maps out their practice courses for them that sometimes run into Richland Township.

Coach Bowser said an expanded course will help local high school runners by providing them with another area to run.

Bowser said the invitational tournament that may be hosted could bring in possible revenue from the teams that would be staying in the area for the events.  According to Bowser, the course also could be used to host fundraising marathons, such as the Cambria County Bar Association 5km.