Keydets Finish with Top Sophmore and Top Freshman in Race

BOONE, N.C.- The VMI men's and women's cross country seasons kicked off Friday evening, as the men's team brought home a fourth-place finish at the Covered Bridge Open, hosted by Appalachian State in Boone, N.C.

The Keydets finished with a total of 85 points, just three points behind Big South rival Coastal Carolina. In the conference's preseason poll, the Chanticleers were picked third, while VMI was picked fourth. Taking the race on the men's side was Florida State with a score of 29, followed by the host Appalachian State squad with 33 points. On the women's side, VMI carried only four members of the team, as they each competed as individuals.

Pacing the Keydets was sophomore Donnie Mikels (Rustburg, Va./Rustburg), whose time of 26:34 gave him 11th place overall and the top time by a sophomore competing. The team's second-best time was turned in by junior Anthony Harris (Orlando, Fla./Cypress Creek), as he finished in 17th place with a time of 26:55. The third fastest Keydet was the meet's top freshman, as Andrew Rademaker (Fork Union, Va./FUMA) finished in 23rd place with a time of 27:18.

Rademaker however wasn't the only Keydet freshman to impress. Jared Klajnbart (Colorado Springs, Colo./Cheyenne Mountain) was the Keydets' fifth finisher and came in 27th overall with a time of 27:40, while Pat Eggleston (Nokesville, Va./Brentsville) finished 33rd overall with a time of 28:06. That trio represented three of the top four freshmen in the race.

Also among the Keydets' top finishers were sophomores Ben Switzer (Rockbridge Baths, Va./Rockbridge County), who came in 26th overall and fourth among the Keydets at 27:33, Kurt Able (Wesley Chapel, Fla./Wesley Chapel), who came in 28th overall with a 27:44, and senior Nick Mazzenga (Dumfries, Va./Bishop Ireton), who finished in 29th with a time of 27:50.

"Tonight we had some guys that ran well, and some guys that didn't run as well as they could have," said head coach Paul Spangler. "I think that we're a better team than what we showed today, but overall I'm pretty satisfied. We had some great performances out of some freshmen who I'm sure are tired, and that is definitely an encouraging sign as we look ahead this season."

Pacing the Keydet women were a pair of highly touted freshmen, as Kelsey Stafford (Charlottesville, Va./Western Albemarle) and Christina Mowatt-Larssen (Chantilly, Va./Westfield) each ran well. Stafford came in 25th overall with a time of 20:31 on the 5K course, while Mowatt-Larssen came in just two spots behind at 20:33. Also running their first collegiate races were Roxanne Franck (Poquoson, Va./Poquoson) and Abby Ward.

"I thought that Kelsey and Christina both ran a solid race," said Spangler. "I think that all of our freshmen are a little tired from matriculation week, and that's to be expected. I think that we will get faster as the season progresses."

Each team will return to action next weekend, as they participate in the Blue Ridge Relay, as the teams will run between Lexington and Rocky Knob. The teams' next competition comes in two weeks, when they host the VMI Invitational at the Virginia Horse Center.