Cross Country kicks it into gear for Great Lakes Regional

The Allegheny Women’s Cross Country team hoisting the championship flag after winning the Conference tournament on Saturday, Oct. 29. It was their first time winning back-to-back titles since their 3-peat during the 2015-17 seasons.

Allegheny’s cross country season has come to a close for both the men and women after competing in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional at St. Vincent College on Saturday, Nov. 12. The women placed 7th out of 34 teams while the men placed 19th out of 38 teams.
“The crowds were huge,” said Leuca Hanish, ’23. “I was super excited to be able to go and experience it.”
The weather provided another obstacle for the runners to maneuver around. For the first time all season, snow hit the course and freezing temperatures were in play, with runners bundled up and banded together.
Some perceived the snow as a lump of coal in their stockings, while others viewed it as an early holiday gift and took the opportunity to enjoy running in weather conditions not typically seen.
“(It) was so fun,” said Peter Lantz, ’24. “It started snowing as soon as the women started running, and you could see the dusting on the course.”
The women built upon an already impressive resume this year. They came in as favorites to win the Presidents’ Athletic Conference and delivered on the expectation.
They brought home the gold once again in back-to-back seasons, owning two different conferences after making the switch from the North Coast Athletic Conference a year ago.
Hanish was among the most consistent runners on the roster. She came into the year with a chip on her shoulder, having rejoined the team after a break following her first year. Hanish never finished outside the top three on her team in addition to setting a new personal record for every race she ran throughout the course of the season.
“I’m really happy with how I improved throughout the season,” Hanish said. “People all have good seasons and bad seasons. I just hit a really good time in my career.”
Another impressive senior for the Gators this past season was Megan Aaron, ’23, who placed 40th overall at the Great Lakes Regional, good for third among the Gators. Aaron has put a long list of achievements together during her four-year tenure at Allegheny, most recently earning second team All-PAC for finishing 8th overall at the Conference Championship race.
Aaron was also named a 2021 NCAC individual champion after outpacing everyone in the conference last year, which earned her a trip to the NCAA Division III National Championship. Still, Aaron’s experience was not built through winning despite her great accomplishments — rather, it was built through her companionship
“I’ll definitely miss my teammates and the bond that we have,” Aaron said. “This year in particular our team was really close.”
The men’s team also had a plethora of positives to take away from the season, notably in their first place finish at the Connecticut College Invite and their second place finish at the PAC Championship.
Two Gators that had a big impact for the men were Lantz and Sean Heintzleman, ’24. Both consistently put up big numbers, and both will return as seniors next year.
Heintzleman was honored with first team All-PAC after earning fourth place at the PAC Championship. He was also the best runner for the Gators during the Regional, and beat his personal record for the eight kilometer race by 33 and a half seconds.
Heintzleman placed 75th at the regional, though in almost every other event his time would be good for a national bid. The competition was fierce and brought some of the best runners in the country toe-to-toe with the Gators.
“I was certainly surprised by the quality of the competition,” Heintzleman said. “But I think everyone, even people who have gone before, were as well. Despite the fact that we’re known as being the strongest region in the country, the margins by which that were true this season I think were unprecedented.”
If the Gators want another crack at this level of competition next season, Lantz said they would need to set a tone similar to that of the women, who were able to lift themselves to the top of the conference. It motivated him and everyone else to keep setting a new standard of winning throughout the culture of Allegheny.
Though they need to perform and compete for themselves, it was also essential to Lantz that the team still stays tight. He recalled a story of both the men and women going out to Olive Garden the night before the conference meet.
The catch was the men had planned to grow out a mustache for the championship. They were granted seven days from the time of their last meet to groom the best mustache they could. Lantz said the reactions to their scraggly tufts of fur on the women’s faces were priceless as they boarded the bus for dinner.
The Gators have plenty of steam heading into the offseason. Everyone expects to keep the bar raised and continue adding to their legacy that has already been set in stone. The program is seeing some of the best there has been at Allegheny, encouraging all athletes to better their game and work hard.

Peter Lantz, ’24, competing during the PAC Championship race. Lantz placed 10th overall and helped the Gators take second place at the event. 31 seconds ahead of his time was Sean Heintzleman, ’24, who placed fourth overall.