Women's Cross Country Places Fourth at W&L Invitational

Written by Jeremiah John

LEXINGTON, Va.—The Southern Virginia University women's cross country team took fourth in the seven-team field at the Washington and Lee Invitational on Saturday, with two runners in the top 15 and four in the top 30.

Freshman Tori Faulkner (Mesa, Ariz.) paced the Knights for the second week in a row, finishing the 6K course in 25:10, for the 10th overall time out of 80 competitors.

Sophia Stone, the Mary Baldwin sophomore who won Southern Virginia's home opener last week, easily took first in the invitational with a time of 23:19.

After Stone, however, the VMI women dominated the race, with runners two through five and seven through eight. Third-place W&L and second-place Otterbein University each took three of the top 15 spots. 

Washington and Lee's beautiful 6K and 8K courses, which run mostly over short grass and wood chips, are largely shaded, with short, rolling hills and river views alongside the Maury. The courses run slower in their last halves, however, as runners come uphill from the river bank and back toward the finish line at W&L's practice fields.

Runners fought for position all the way up the incline, but by the time the first runners had emerged from the woods, most of the drama was over, with the VMI Keydets holding a strong team lead behind Mary Baldwin's Stone.

The first-year women for the Knights again impressed, finishing as the team's top three. Faulkner and fellow freshman Leah Huber (Castle Rock, Colo.) took individual awards for finishing in the top fifteen spots, at 10th and 14th respectively. Freshman Shelbi Prince of (Mexico, Mo.) took 24th place as SVU's third runner, with a time of 27:00.

It was the third race in ten days for the Southern Virginia women after placing second out of four teams at Shenandoah University on September 1st, and winning their home opener against Mary Baldwin one week ago. 

Senior Bridget Gonzalez (Riverside, Calif.) delivered a big effort as the fifth scorer for the Knights on Saturday, taking only seven seconds longer to finish the 6K than she took during last week's 5K in Buena Vista.

Southern Virginia cruised into fourth place finishing 66 points ahead of fifth-place Mary Baldwin in a rematch of last week's home opener. SVU ran with a team of 11 women, and the Knights' scorers averaged 26:41. 

Women's cross country races again next Saturday at the Berea College Invitational 8K in Berea, Ky.,  six-and-a-half hours east from Buena Vista, Va.