Duquesne cross-country teams lead way in CMU Invitational

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Members of the Duquesne women’s cross-country team run during the Yinzer Cross Country Classic at Youthtowne in Clinton, Pa., on Sept. 3. The women earned a first-place finish during this event.

Luke Henne | Sports Editor

Oct. 14, 2021

The Duquesne men’s and women’s cross-country teams each earned a first-place finish at Saturday’s Carnegie Mellon Invitational in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park.

The women’s team had a combined score of 43, which was the best among the field of 14 teams. The next closest teams were Clarion and Carnegie Mellon, who finished with respective scores of 84 and 102.

Five of the top 15 runners in the five-kilometer race hailed from Duquesne. Tessa Franchi (19:42.1) and Laura Ehrenberger (19:44.1) finished in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Kiki Thornton, who finished eighth overall with a time of 19:51.0, views the win as a source of motivation moving forward.

“It was a great morale boost for our team,” Thornton said. “We all had a collective plan to get out hard and fast and to stay up in the top of the pack. I think, as a team, we worked well to get the win.”

Angela Valotta (20:12.4) and Kierra Shreffler (20:34.4) also earned top-15 finishes.

Thornton is proud of her teammates, not only for their success this past weekend, but for the work they’ve put in all season long.

“It takes a lot of hard work to push yourself the way this team does every day,” Thornton said. “We all respect each other and want each other to reach our own goals. We hold each other accountable and I think that because we work together, it definitely shows in our races.”

Thornton feels that the hard work her and her teammates put in on a daily basis serves as the foundation of a strong program.

“We do a great job of encouraging each other when we work out or race,” Thornton said. “Being in a positive environment, when you know you have a solid support system that wants you do well, helps a lot in becoming successful.”

On the men’s side, the Dukes combined for an overall score of 20. Carnegie Mellon and Indiana (Pa.) finished in second and third, respectively, with scores of 64 and 83.

Five of the top seven runners were from Duquesne. Mark Provenzo (26:07.9) and Sam Lenze (26:26.6) earned the top two spots in the entire field.

Zack Toth (26:34.6), Nick Fetzer (26:37.3) and Anthony Litrenta (26:37.4) finished in fourth, sixth and seventh place, respectively.

Both teams will be back in action on Friday when they travel to University Park, Pa., for the Penn State National Open.

Following a week off, both squads will head to Cedarville, Ohio, on Oct. 30, where they’ll each compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship. Thornton described winning the conference title as “an ultimate team goal.”