CRESSON — Mount Aloysius College sophomore cross country runner Lauren Shrader has been scorching the trails this fall as the lead runner for the Mounties.
The York Suburban High School graduate has already set records and a Mountie first just a few weeks into the 2015 season.
In the Mounties' first event of the season at Westmoreland County Community College on Sept. 5, Shrader became the first-ever Mount Aloysius women's cross country runner to win an invitational. In finishing first overall, Shrader blew past the competition with a final time of 20 minutes, 56 seconds. Her time was more than a minute ahead of the second-place finisher. Shrader's first-place finish comes on the heels a second-place finish in the same event a year ago.
"Lauren ran a conservative first mile at the Wolfpack Invitational at WCCC. She had probably six or seven runners in front of her at first. As the top runners started to slow down, Lauren's consistent pacing paid off and she was in the lead by the second mile and never looked back," Mounties head coach Marilyn Gregory said.
Shrader majors in American Sign Language and English interpreting.
Shrader has hardly been a one-woman show for Gregory. Classmate Cynthia Santoyo from New Oxford finished third overall at Westmoreland with a time of 22:36.
The Mounties followed up a team second-place finish at Westmoreland with a third-place finish at the Penn State Greater Allegheny Invitational on Sept. 12. Shrader had another solid performance, finishing sixth overall among 55 runners with a final time of 22:23.
Mount Aloysius then tested itself against some of the best runners in the region at the Penn State Behrend Invitational last weekend. Among a field of Division I, II and III runners, Shrader held her own while finishing 46th overall among 130 competitors with a time of 22:54.
"Lauren is a very driven and competitive runner. She is instinctive when it comes to pacing herself in races, knowing when to be patient in the beginning and speed up later on in the race. She capitalizes on her strength because she gets faster as the race goes on," Gregory said.
Shrader, who earned All-Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference honors as a freshman along with Santoyo, will look to lead the Mounties into conference competition and the AMCC Championships on Oct. 31. Already named a team captain in both of her first two seasons, Shrader came in sixth place among all individual competitors at the AMCC Championships a year ago. Gregory believes her women's team, led by Shrader along with Santoyo, will improve on their overall finish from a year ago.