Written by Jeremiah John
The Southern Virginia University men's cross country team took 6th place out of eight teams at the Washington and Lee Invitational 8K on Saturday, in a race that also included NCAA Division I Virginia Military Institute, Eastern Mennonite University, Otterbein University, and the Knights' home opener opponent Hampden-Sydney.
First-year runner Ryan Hatch (Orem, Utah) led the eight-man Southern Virginia team with a 31:03 time for 27th place out of 75 runners. The seven scorers for the Knights averaged 34:08 over the approximately 5-mile race.
Hatch came out strong to begin the race, playing the rabbit in the first loop of the course, and running near the front of the pack through the first mile. At that point, however, a group of eight VMI Keydets moved into the front, establishing a lead they would carry to the finish line.
Eastern Mennonite standout Dan Nafziger, who won the Hornet Challenge 8K nine days ago in Bedford, also held a strong lead early in the race, but took a wrong turn in the woods and fell behind.
Hampden-Sydney's top man Andrew Stoddard, who won Southern Virginia's 5K home opener last week, took 14th with a time of 29:56.
The W&L invitational was the second time in eight days the Knights faced the Hampden-Sydney Tigers, who won their dual matchup with the Knights last week in Buena Vista. This time, however, the Knights narrowly edged out the Tigers, scoring 168 to Hampden-Sydney's 172.
VMI dominated the final standings, finishing with only 17 points and eight of the top nine finishers. Only Otterbein had a runner cross the finish line before the Keydets had all seven of their scorers run through the chute.
Host team Washington and Lee took second in the meet, with five runners in the top 20. Otterbein University of Westerville, Ohio was the third-place team, led by the 4th and 15th finishers overall.
Southern Virginia men took 27th, 48th, 49th, 52th, 54th, 55th, 63rd, and 75th places in the 75-man race, with their most complete team this season. The Knights only had three runners finish at Shenandoah on September 1st, and only five in their home opener two days later.
Junior captain Casey Mundell (Dededo, Guam) and freshman Cory Prince (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) joined the team in Lexington after sitting out the home opener with injuries, finishing together as the Knights' fifth and sixth runners. Freshmen Jefferson Chandler (West Linn, Oregon) and John Leake have yet to run attached with the team.
The Knights race again next Saturday at the Berea College Invitational 8K in Berea, Ky., six-and-a-half hours east from Buena Vista, Va.