Men and women both look to return to national championships< GREENVILLE, NC -- The Virginia men's and women's cross country teams will compete at the NCAA Southeast Regional meet this Saturday (Nov. 13) in Greenville, N.C. on the Lake Kristi course. The women's 6K race will start at 11:00 am while the men's 10K race will start approximately at 12:15. Both squads have been to the national meet in recent years, and the men look to return after last year's berth while the women are looking to return after a one-year hiatus.
The Virginia men are coming off an impressive third-place finish at the ACC meet and are looking to finish in the top three at this weekend's meet. Three members of the squad return from last year's NCAA crew, including All-Regional performer Will Christian, who has led the Cavaliers all year long. Christian earned All-ACC honors for the second consecutive year two weeks ago with his fifth-place finish at the conference meet and last year took seventh at the regional meet. Christian also took fifth at the Great American Cross Country Festival earlier this season, further cementing his position as one of the top runners in the Southeast. Joining him again in 2004 are Dave Vitto and Alex Tatu, both of whom ran at the regional and national meets last year, providing the Cavaliers with a veteran presence. At the Pre-Nationals meet in October, Tatu finished just behind Christian, giving the Cavaliers a tough 1-2 punch up front. Virginia's Soeren Lindner also adds big-race experience following a solid season as one of the nation's top steeplechasers in 2004. He finished just out of All-Conference honors at the ACC meet, coming in 15th, just ahead of teammate Ryan Foster, who will also go to the line for the Cavaliers at Lake Kristi. Rounding out the Cavalier men's squad are Andrew Dumm, who finished in the top-10 at the Lou Onesty Invitational, and Kevin McHale. The men's squad is deep and experienced, and with the knowledge of what it will take to get back to nationals, will battle two ranked teams in N. C. State and William and Mary for a berth at the national championships.
The women's team is also a veteran of the national meet, and they look to return to the NCAAs with a solid performance in Greenville. First-year Emily Harrison earned All-ACC honors in her first year with a ninth-place finish at the ACC meet, and she has led the Cavaliers all season long. Joining her on the starting line are three women who add big-race experience after competing at the Southeast Regional last year-Angie Saterstad, Cheryl Carr, and Shannon Hawrylo. Saterstad is the top returning Cavalier from last year's team, and Carr and Hawrylo finished just behind Harrison two weeks ago in the ACC meet. First years Jen Beury and Sara Ensrud add a youthful perspective to the team, with Beury being part of a Virginia pack of four runners in nine spots in the ACC meet. Joining these six will be Nadia Baadj, who finished seconds behind Harrison in the Lou Onesty Open to start the 2004 season, giving the Cavaliers a solid pair of front-runners to compliment a tough and deep pack of harriers.
The NCAA Championships will take place on Monday, Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Indiana at the Wabash Family Sports Center, hosted by Indiana State University.