Keydets Place Seven Runners in Top 16 on Men's Side, Liberty Claims Top Five Spots in Women's Race
LEXINGTON, Va.- The VMI men's team and Liberty women's team each claimed titles Saturday afternoon at the 1st annual VMI Cross Country Invitational, held at the Virginia Horse Center. The collegiate races were two of eight events held at the meet, as high schoolers and middle schoolers also competed.
The Keydets claimed their victory on the men's side thanks to a solid team effort. After Liberty claimed the top two spots, thanks to brothers Josh (24:27) and Jordan McDougal (25:40), VMI claimed the third, sixth, eighth, ninth and 11th spots to post an overall team score of 37. Liberty, voted first in the Big South Conference preseason poll, ended up in second place with 52 points, while UNC Asheville claimed third with a score of 57. Radford claimed fourth place with a team score of 79.
On the women's side, the Lady Flames had the top eight collegiate finishers, led by Carol Jefferson (18:37). Liberty's score of 18 blew away second place UNC Asheville by a margin of 40 points. VMI's women's team claimed third place with a score of 79, while Radford again finished fourth with 90 total points.
Pacing the Keydet men on the day was an outstanding effort from Donnie Mikels (Rustburg, Va./Rustburg), who turned in a time of 25:53 to finish in third place overall. Leading a tightly-bunched group of Keydets was Anthony Harris (Orlando, Fla./Cypress Creek) with a sixth-place overall finish at 26:31, followed by Kurt Able (Wesley Chapel, Fla./Wesley Chapel) in eighth place with a time of 26:38. In ninth place was freshman Patrick Eggleston (Nokesville, Va./Brentsville) with a time of 26:42, while Ben Switzer (Lexington, Va./Rockbridge County) rounded out the scoring finishers for the Keydets with an 11th place finish and a time of 26:55.
For the Keydet women, three freshmen led the way as Kelsey Stafford (Charlottesville, Va./Western Albemarle) was the top Keydet finisher, turning in a time of 19:51, good enough for 10th place overall. The next Keydet finisher was Christina Mowatt-Larssen (Chantilly, Va./Westfield), who came in 19th after posting a time of 20:49, while Roxanne Franck (Poquoson, Va./Poquoson) turned in a 21:18, good enough for 24th place. Sophomore Abby Ward (Fairfax, Va.) was the fourth Keydet finisher, placing 26th with a time of 21:48, while junior Kathleen Resetar (Fairfax Station, Va./Bishop Ireton) finished 33rd overall after posting a time of 22:45.
"I thought both of our teams ran really well today," said VMI head cross country coach Paul Spangler. "Liberty's men's team is better than what they ran today, but now we know what we need to do to compete with them. This victory for the men is a big step for the future of our program. On the women's side, we had five girls that ran and we were able to beat another team (Radford) that we'll face at the conference championships, so there's a lot of positives we can take out of this race. Once our women get another couple of people healthy, I think we may be able to move up in the conference."
The collegiate races were only part of the story at the Virginia Horse Center on Saturday. Six other events were held, including boy's and girl's races for high school varsity, junior varsity and middle school. Taking the girls' varsity individual championship was Catherine White of Northside with a time of 18:38, while Blacksburg took home the team title, defeating James W. Robinson by 23 points. On the boys' side, Patterson Wilhelm of E.C. Glass ran a 16:16, while Robinson took the team title over Glass by 24 points.
In the high school junior varsity races, Kelly Kavanaugh (22:22) took top honors in the girls' race, leading Robinson to a first place finish, clipping Blacksburg by 15 points, while Ragan Rudisill (18:20) took top honors in the boys' race, leading Jefferson Forest to a title over Robinson.
As for the middle school races, Mohammed Bani-Hani (11:45) won the boy's race to lead Thomas Harrison to the team win by a narrow six-point margin over Rockbridge County, while Heather Campbell (13:55) led Fort Defiance to a second place finish behind Thomas Harrison, taking second by only four points.
The Keydets return to action on Saturday, Oct. 1 when they travel to Pennsylvania to compete in the Paul Short Invitational, hosted by Lehigh.