September 1, 2011 -- CNU-VWC Dual Meet

Post date: Sep 13, 2011 1:23:48 PM

The 2011 Cross Country season opened with the now-traditional dual meet against Virginia Wesleyan College on their home course. Hurricane Irene spared both campuses, so other than a brief respite from team training the meet was contested under great conditions. The host Marlins put up a strong fight, but fell a few points short of the Captains in both team battles.

Captains Sweep 2011 XC Campaign Opener

Jade Zaharoff & Raymond Gamache Power CNU’s Victories

With the CNU and Virginia Wesleyan campuses evacuated for Hurricane Irene, team training for both the Captains and the Marlins took a 4-5 day hiatus leading up to the season opening dual meet on September 1. Both squads, however, had some strong performances and the team competitions came right down to the wire in both races.

The women lined up first for their 4k race (actually measured at 3850m) and CNU sent three out to set a hard early pace – senior Jade Zaharoff (Vienna, VA), junior Karen Bumiller (Burke, VA), and sophomore newcomer Julie Machamer (Norfolk, VA). The rest of the Captains were to hold a more conservative early pace and make their move in the second half of the race.

Zaharoff’s tempo stretched the field out significantly and the senior held strong over the entirety of the flat course. Strong enough that even adjusting for the short course, she won with the fastest 4k time in recent CNU history (14:52). For Bumiller, getting out fast was a new experience and while she was able to keep her teammate in her sights for the first half of the race, she could not quite hold on and slipped back to fourth place. Still, Bumiller finished in 15:36 compared to her 16:51 effort over the full 4k last year.

Machamer is a recent addition to the squad from the Field Hockey program and showed both talent and toughness in training runs. She gamely accepted the challenge of going out to lead the race early and even when her form started to falter, she continued to grind out the remaining kilometers. Sophomore teammates Jess McClelland (Stafford, VA) and Erin Rolaf (Woodbridge, VA) charged up after their conservative early pace to pick off VWC’s middle pack and Machamer. Rolaf ended up edging McClelland at the finish 15:53-15:57 for 6th and 7th place. That left the team score even with four runners each across the line, but with Machamer holding on for 9th (16:06), the Captains prevailed. Frosh Sarah Russell (Manassas, VA) finish 10th (16:15) to displace the Marlins’ #5 and made the final women’s score 27-29 in favor of CNU.

The Men’s team tactics were similar to the women – a lead group tasked to force the early pace and a second pack set for a second-half surge. Facing the South/Southeast Region’s defending champion in VWC’s Sean Whitson, the Captains’ lead group had some chasing of their own to do after the first mile. Junior Ray Gamache (King George, VA) responded well and never let Whitson out of his sights. Gamache finished 12 seconds back in 2nd place at 18:57 over the 6k course – 41 seconds faster than he ran last fall. Senior Corey Lofton (Vienna, VA) fell a little further off the pace (19:11), but held on to split Wesleyan’s 2-3.

While the front group was forced in to an even stronger early pace than they had planned, the second pack for the Captains was overly conservative in their start. With a big gap already opened at the mile mark, the plan to wait for the 3k mark to surge was scrapped and group was spurred on soon after crossing the one mile marker. Joshua Bowling (Crewe, VA) and Daniel Austin (Culpeper, VA) made the strongest move and were rolling on VWC’s #4 and the remnants of CNU’s lead pack by the three mile mark. Bowling ended up finishing 6th in 19:43 – nearly matching his 2010 time in spite of the slow start – and Austin clipped teammate Patrick Cunningham (Williamsburg, VA) 19:57-19:59 for 7th and 8th place. More importantly, the two beat the Marlins’ #4 to the line and secured the win for the Captains. For good measure, CNU showed off its superior depth by packing nine more finishers ahead of the VWC #5. Chris Lyford (Leesburg, VA), Scott Teribury (Woodbridge, VA), Aaron Zook (Harrisonburg, VA), and freshmen Van Lewin (Cape Charles, VA) and Brad Turner (Williamsburg, VA) were the first of the nine and all finished within 8 seconds of each other. When the Marlins’ fifth runner finished, the score was settled at 27-32 for the Captains.

The USA South Conference named Jade Zaharoff and Ray Gamache Runners of the Week and Van Lewin Rookie of the Week for their efforts.

The Captains head in to a long stretch of training before returning to competition in Pennsylvania for the Dickinson Long/Short Invitational on September 24th.

For complete CNU Results, check out the Results Page.