If you were trying to predict the winners of the Bill Sudeck Classic on Saturday morning, you would have been surprised to see a freshman to be the first to cross the finish line.
Danielle Kulpins, running in her collegiate debut crossed the finish line a full six seconds ahead of the rest of field. Kulpins’ individual title helped lead the Spartans, who took seven of the top eight spots in the women’s 4K race against crosstown rival, John Carroll. Following close behind Kulpins was sophomore Olivia Zabrodsky; she placed as runner-up in her own running collegiate debut. Zabrodsky missed all of last season due to injury but has made tremendous strides in her recovery and looks to be a strong piece in the Spartans’ squad this season. Also coming back from injury was Kelsey Aamoth, who won the past two Sudeck Classics; she rounded out the top eight running a 16:24.89. Kristen Ruckstuhl, Evy Hail, Hayley Yocum and Dana Jeter round out the top finishes from the Spartans finishing third through sixth.
On the men’s side, junior captain Tony Spalding led his Spartan squad to victory, setting a personal best 6k time of 19:54.71. In addition, this time beat Spalding’s previous Sudeck Classic times by more than a minute. The Spartan men also handily beat John Carroll, with runners crossing the finish line in five of the top six spots. Following Spalding was freshman Sam Merriman, sophomore Galen Caldwell and junior Timothy Travitz crossed the finish line placing second, third and fourth to help boost the Spartans to their 16 to 41 team scoring win. Merriman ran a 20:13.22 with Caldwell and Travitz finishing just over a second apart, checking in at 20.24.21 and 20:25.40, respectively.
The dominance in the meet in both the men’s and women’s races shows a strong season in the works for the Spartans. Especially with the rise of strong freshmen such as Kulpins and Merriman, the Spartans look poised to continue their run of great seasons. The Spartans will rest this weekend from their strong showings in the home meet in preparation for competitions on Saturday, Sept. 13 in a split squad day. The top runners for both teams will be representing the Spartans at the Knight Invitational at Calvin College starting at 10 a.m. The rest of both the squads will be running in the Behrend Invitational at Penn State Erie, the Behrend College at 11:00 a.m. making for a running-filled day for the Spartans.