Harris, who has paced the men's team in their last four races, has been joined out front this season by the duo of freshman Donnie Mikels and sophomore Graham Forbes. Mikels has been the Keydets' second finisher in the last four meets after leading VMI in the first meet of the season, a dual meet against conference foe Radford. Forbes has provided a much-needed consistent top-three finisher for the Keydets, falling in just behind Harris and Mikels in the Keydets' last two events.
Another contributor to the team's success this season has been sophomore Edwin Lugo, who finished 43rd a month ago on the same 8K course that the Big South Championships will be run on. Also joining in the pack for the Keydets will be freshman Kurt Able and juniors Shawn Hogan and Nick Mazzenga.
The competition will be familiar, as the Keydets have run against fellow Big South competition in each of the last three meets they have participated in. Over those meets, the Keydets have defeated league rivals Radford, Charleston Southern and Winthrop, while gaining valuable experience by competing against High Point and UNC Asheville four weeks ago.
"The team has come a long way, especially the men," said VMI head cross country coach Paul Spangler. "Our men's team is young and made up of mostly freshmen and sophomores. With a makeup like that, you don't expect to have a lot of success, but we have had success this year. Donnie Mikels, a freshman, has been consistent as our number two runner and Anthony Harris, a sophomore has been our number one runner in all our races but one. We have a lot of depth, and I think one reason is because of all the young guys on our team. I really see us improving a lot down the road."
On the women's side, Blain and Ania Majda will be called on to pace the Keydets, as they have for most of the season. Blain has led VMI in the three events she has competed in this year, while Majda finished just behind Blain two weeks ago at the Blue Ridge Open. Junior Emily Naslund has competed in three of VMI's five races this year, while sophomores Carrie McAtee and Kathleen Resetar will also look to contribute this weekend as well.
"On the women's side, Amber Blain, a junior, and Ania Majda, a freshman, have done a great job and I'm really anxious to see how they'll do this weekend," said Spangler.
The Big South Cross Country Championships will be hosted by Winthrop University and take place in Rock Hill, S.C. at the Winthrop Farm on Saturday morning. The women's race will begin at 10 a.m., while the men's race will start at 10:45 a.m. The awards ceremony is scheduled to begin at noon.