UPJ Cross-Country Runners Stella Sergeyev and Victoria Rizzuto took the lead Oct. 6 at the Pitt-Greensburg Invitational.
The 5 km invitational consisted of three university teams, including Pitt-Greensburg, Plus independent runners from additional universities.
Sergeyev and Rizzuto, UPJ’s Cross-Country team members, competed independently. They ran unscored, meaning their scores did not count for UPJ’s rankings, but did count for the women’s individual records.
“We ran unscored because seven out of 10 of us were hurt,” said Rizzuto. Cross-country teams must have five people participating to be scored as a team. However, single team members have the chance to participate in a race for personal records.
Freshman Sergeyev placed first at the meet. She said she felt it was unusual running without a team.
“My high school team went everywhere together, so this was different,” she said.
Although Sergeyev is typically a top runner, she said it was nice to place first.
To prepare for running collegiate-level cross-country, Sergeyev followed an exercise plan that emphasized hill workouts, tempo runs and pacing. With experience and an excellent start, Sergeyev said she is optimistic.
“I want to keep improving, and drop my times,” she said. “I’m still adjusting to college, so I would like to improve.”
Rizzuto placed second at the invitational.
“It was weird,” said Rizzuto. “I was leading the race for the first mile. It was different, but it was awesome.”
“I’ve done cross-country since seventh grade. My dad ran for UPJ when they had a men’s team, and I trained with him all summer.”
“My goal is to not get hurt,” she said. “I want to do well at conferences and at regionals in three weeks.”
Sergeyev earned a time of 22:07.09, and Rizzuto finished with a time of 23:29.80.
Pitt-Johnstown’s Cross-Country team last competed in the Mount Aloysius College Invitational Sept. 30, finishing fourth out of eight teams.
The Pitt-Johnstown cross-country team will next compete Saturday at the 2012 West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships at Seton-Hill University.