An undermanned Maryland cross country squad gained valuable experience at the Paul Short Run.

Coming off two top 10 finishes in the season’s first meets, Friday’s results were lackluster in comparison. The Terps finished 35th out of 38 schools — a far cry from the second and sixth place finishes they garnered in the preceding weeks.

But at this point in the season, it’s about experience for coach Andrew Valmon.

“This weekend was an opportunity to build experience,” Valmon said. “The next few weeks, the group will continue preparations for the latter part of the season.”

Due to a non-COVID-19 illness that kept several of the team’s key members from competing, Maryland headed into the Paul Short Run undermanned and unseasoned, planning to take a step back and use the race as a learning experience.

[Down key members, Maryland cross country plans for an undermanned Paul Short Run]

In their first appearance competing at Lehigh University since 2019, the Terps were also subject to a number of other firsts as well.

For freshman Emma Pegg, the race was the first of her college career. She performed well in her Maryland debut, finishing with a time of 22:39.5. The rookie runner trailed only senior Sarah Daniels among the Terps.

The Paul Short Run, a 6K race, is longer than the traditional 5K at most meets. For freshmen Katie Turk, Katerina Talanova and Allison Colflesh, Friday’s race marked their first time competing in a collegiate 6K.

Turk had a strong showing in her 6K debut, finishing with a time of 22:47.5, while Colflesh and Talanova had finished one after the other. Colflesh completed the race in 23:11.6, while Talanova finished in 23:12.3.

While Maryland didn’t perform up to its typical standard as a team, Daniels was her usual self, once again leading the charge for the Terps.

[Maryland cross country’s young roster shined at Virginia Invitational]

The veteran racer finished 102nd with a time of 21:43.8, a personal record and just milliseconds off a top 100 finish. Her time gave Maryland 93 of their 944 points — in this case, a lower score being a better performance.

“Sarah Daniels continued to step up and lead the way for the group,” Valmon said.

Daniels was one of nine athletes who traveled to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Also competing were sophomores Kirstin Nichols, Sophia Zell and Katie Ericson and junior Samantha Facius, who put together solid performances for the Terps.

Maryland’s next chance to compete will come on Oct. 15, when it travels to compete in the Penn State National Open. That contest should be much more competitive as the Terps intend to go “full throttle,” Valmon said.

That meet should serve as another crucial learning experience for Maryland. Penn State will be the location of the eventual Big Ten Championships, giving the Terps a chance to learn and adjust to the course.