Mason-Dixon Conference rival Salisbury University played host for the Captains with their flat and fast home course at Winter Place Park. CNU's harriers took advantage with good racing and fast times.
Junior Corey Lofton (Vienna, VA) is still finding his racing form and took another step forward dogging the lead pack around the course. In his first full-distance race he had a bit of a mental challenge in the second half, but held on to place 16th (26:10). Even accounting for the flat, lightning-fast course, his performance is at least on par with his best ever 8k races.
Over the next 43 seconds, the rest of the CNU top-7 arrived.
Rookie Patrick Cunningham (Williamsburg, VA) continued to impress with a strong, steady push to 19th place at 26:22 -- a full minute faster than his time at Dickinson. For most of the race, Christopher Lyford (Leesburg, VA), William Kirk (Mechanicsville, VA), Michael Hoy (Mechanicsville, VA), and Scott Teribury (Woodbridge, VA) were in tight formation within sight of the freshman. Lyford, Kirk, and Hoy all finished within two seconds of each other -- 26:36-26:38 -- and closed the team scoring at 118 behind Division II's East Stroudsburg Univ. (57) and Salisbury (63). For Lyford, the time represented another minute improvement for 8k and Kirk's time was nearly 2 minutes faster than his lifetime best time posted at Dickinson.
Teribury slipped back a bit to 37th (26:47 - 2:38 faster than his previous 8k best) and Jeff Ball (Chesapeake, VA) showed his XC legs are returning with 26:58 (2 minute best) finish for 42nd.
As the rest of the squad filed in, previous lifetime bests were left minutes behind: Matthew Winkler (Palmyra, VA) at 27:19 (2:20 best); Franklin (Mac) McCracken at 27:37 (1:43); William Zak (Mechanicsville, VA) at 28:06 (2:27); Andrew Giordano (Great Falls, VA) at 28:32 (1:50); Wilson Bever (Chantilly, VA) at 29:37 (2:43); Scott Wright (Oak Hill, VA) at 29:38 (3:42); and Timothy Daniels (Stafford, VA) at 29:43 (4:23).
The women, too, have been working on pushing the early phases of the race to get in contending position and then fighting to the finish. The aggressive approach -- and the improved fitness from training for that strategy -- resulted in three new members of the "Sub-24" club even after adjusting for the slightly short course (a 30 second addition to the official time is the established adjustment for the CNU lists).
Leading the way again for the Captains was junior Dira Hansen (Culpeper, VA). She had a pack trailing the leaders to help carry her through the mile at 5:53 and stayed steady through the next two miles. Her final kick moved her up a few spots to finish 6th at 22:31. Fellow junior Jade Zaharoff (Vienna, VA) was with Hansen through the mile before slipping back a bit in the mid-section of the race. She finished strong for 14th place and her 22:51 is equivalent to a one minute improvement over her previous best 6k time.
Erin Rolaf (Woodbridge, VA) earned her second Rookie of the Week honor from the USA South Conference with a 20th place finish in 23:03. In her first (nearly) full-distance race, she bested her 5k PR en route and debuts on CNU's Sub-24 list even with the course adjustment. Senior Michelle Stauffer (Fort Valley, VA) helped set the tone for the second wave of CNU runners, keeping them in contact with Hansen and Zaharoff through the first mile. Pulling through at 6:02, she suffered a bit over the rest of the course, but gamely fought to a 23:59 finish for 44th. Karen Bumiller registered the final team scoring points in 54th (24:34). East Stroudsburg (52) completed their sweep and fellow DII Mansfield University finished 2nd with 76 points. Host Salisbury held off the Captains 127-137.
Frosh Jessica McClelland (Stafford, VA) improved her 6k best by about two minutes (adjusted) with her 24:59 in 33rd. Emily Whitby (Alexandria, VA) came through 3 miles at 22:23 (compared to a 5k PR of 25:02) and finished at 27:07 -- almost two minutes faster than her previous best after adjusting for the course length.
Finishing ahead of Shenandoah, Univ. of Mary Washington, and Virginia Wesleyan looked good in the eyes of the pollsters as the men moved up to 5th in the South/Southeast rankings and the women moved all the way up to #3. Another off weekend lies ahead before racing at William & Mary's Invitational on the grounds of Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg on October 16th.
For complete CNU Results, check out the Results Page