Men's and Women's Cross Country Both Place Fourth at James Madison

Written by Chris Pendleton

HARRISONBURG, Va.—Southern Virginia University cross country competed at the James Madison Invitational on Saturday with the men's team finishing fourth out of four teams, while the women's team placed fourth out of six participating teams. 

Men's Results (8K)

Southern Virginia University was the only non-NCAA Division I participant in Saturday's four-team men's race that featured Virginia Military Institute, Howard University and Longwood University along with the provisional NCAA Division III Knights.

Despite finishing last at the James Madison Invitational, the Southern Virginia men's team ran its strongest race of the year on Saturday as all five Knights finished with season-best 8K times. 

"We lost to three very good Division I teams today," said second-year Head Coach Logan Davis. "But running against this caliber of competition teaches us a lot and pushes us to be better. We made a lot of progress today."

Sophomore Patrick Gonzalez (Riverside, Calif.) was Southern Virginia's top finisher for the third time in as many meets this season at 27:02.50—good enough for 14th place overall. Gonzalez finished Saturday's 8K more than two-and-a-half minutes faster than his previous week's time that earned him a fourth-place finish at the Washington and Lee Invitational as well as USCAA Runner of the Week honors.

Gonzalez was trailed by teammate Benjamin Houldridge (North Bend, Wash.), who placed 29th overall with a time of 29:25.00 marking the freshman's first collegiate finish under 30 minutes.

Casey Mundell (Dededo, Guam), Dan Fotheringham (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Tyson Babbel (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) entered the chute 34th, 35th and 36th respectively as Southern Virginia recorded its fastest team average (31:34.02) of the season by more than four minutes. 

VMI took Saturday's men's race with a near perfect team score of 20 followed by Howard (46) and Longwood (75).

Women's Results (5K)

The Southern Virginia University women's cross country team followed up last week's second-place finish at the Washington and Lee Invitational—the Knights highest finish ever at the annual meet—by placing fourth at the James Madison Invitational ahead of NCAA Division I Howard University and NCAA Division III Mary Baldwin College.

"Our women's team is continuing to improve with every race," said Davis. "We were thrilled to beat out a D-I school today, but we still have a long way to go in order to reach our full potential."

Like the men's team, all eight Southern Virginia women who ran at James Madison on Saturday recorded season-best times resulting in the Knights lowest team average to date (22:37.46).

Sophomore Tori Faulkner (Mesa, Ariz.) was Southern Virginia's top finisher for the ninth time in her ten career races placing 23rd overall with a 5K time of 21:49.00. Fellow sophomore Leah Huber (Castle Rock, Colo.) was only five seconds behind Faulkner into the chute as Huber broke 22 minutes for the first time this year.

Jacey Moore (Mesa, Ariz.), Kera Macfarlane-Neilson (Yorktown, Va.) and Shelbi Prince (Mexico, Mo.) rounded out the scoring for Southern Virginia at 32nd, 37th and 39th place respectively.

Host school James Madison won its home meet with a final team score of 23 followed by VMI (52) and Longwood (96).

"We love coming to this meet and facing top-level programs," said Davis. "This race keeps us humble and hungry."

Southern Virginia cross country is back in action next Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Roanoke Invitational in Roanoke, Va.