Written by Chris Pendleton
LEXINGTON, Va.—The Southern Virginia University women's cross country team recorded its highest finish ever at the annual Washington and Lee Invitation on Saturday morning placing second overall out of six participating teams.
"I was really proud of the way our women performed today," said second-year Head Coach Logan Davis. "We saw a lot of improvement from our last meet just over a week ago."
Sophomore Tori Faulkner (Mesa, Ariz.) had a particularly encouraging bounce-back race for the Knights finishing as Southern Virginia's top woman on the day with a 5K time of 21:57—good enough for eighth place overall.
Saturday marked the eighth time in nine career races that Faulkner recorded her team's best time. Last week's ODAC Preview was the only time Faulkner has ever been beaten by a Southern Virginia teammate when she placed 36th overall as the fourth Knight to enter the chute.
"Tori was back to her usual consistent self today," said Davis. "She is a great competitor and ran a very strong race against tough Division III competition."
Faulkner, who earned USCAA All-American honors last season after placing second overall at the 2011 national meet, was trailed closely by sophomore and fellow 2011 All-American selection Leah Huber (Castle Rock, Colo.), who finished ninth overall at W&L—only 14 seconds behind Faulkner.
Southern Virginia also had the meet's eleventh fastest runner in freshman Jacey Moore (Mesa, Ariz.). The first-year runner and former high school teammate of Faulkner's continued her impressive start to the season recording a time of 22:37, after coming in as her team's top finisher a week ago during her first collegiate race.
Southern Virginia's fastest three runners—Faulkner, Huber and Moore—all crossed the finish line within 50 seconds of each other.
Shelbi Prince (Mexico, Mo.) and Kera Macfarlane-Neilson (Yorktown, Va.) rounded out Southern Virginia's top five at 16th and 19th place respectively. Macfarlane-Neilson made a gutsy charge on the final straight away passing a pack of runners to move up five spots in the home stretch of her race. Macfarlane's late push helped the Knights finish 20 points ahead of third-place Roanoke College.
"Roanoke is a great team with a great coach," said Davis. "They edged us out by four points at their meet last fall so finishing ahead of them today shows how much progress we've made. I'm sure it will be a really tough meet when we travel to Roanoke again later this month."
Desiree Gentry (St. George, Utah) was another bright spot for the Knights finishing sixth on the team, which marked the sophomore's highest team finish to date.
"Desiree is a hard worker and may be our most improved runner from last year," said second-year Assistant Coach Jeremiah John.
Ten of Southern Virginia's eleven runners competed at the Washington and Lee Invitational.
Host team Washington and Lee captured first place with six of the meets seven fastest finishers and a near perfect score of 17. St. Mary's College of Maryland, who Southern Virginia will join in the Capital Athletic Conference this summer, also took part in the meet placing fifth with 107 points.
Women's cross country is back in action again next Saturday, Sept. 15 at the James Madison Invitational (6K) in Harrisonburg, Va.