KERNERSVILLE, N.C. - A 41-second personal best for Jahanzib Shahbaz and three PR's on the women's side led the VMI cross country teams at the VertCross Invite, contested Friday afternoon in Kernersville, N.C. The event served as the final tune-up for both teams prior to the Southern Conference Championships.
Bethany King led the way for the Keydets on the women's side, as the senior crossed the 6K line in 22:53 to finish 28th. Logan Luckett was 15 seconds behind King in 37th, while Anna Armfield timed in at 24:08 and placed 62nd. Kathleen Yates was 80th in 24:45, yet another PR, while Isabela Melendez (25:18/93rd) and Brittany Szczepanik (29:32/131st) rounded out the Keydets in action.
VMI ran just six runners on the women's side, but the three lifetime bests as the team finished eighth overall with 236 points. That put the Keydets just one point behind UNC Wilmington and slightly ahead of Coastal Carolina (244), North Carolina A&T (262) and Charleston Southern (297). High Point won the team event.
Shahbaz, meanwhile, finished 16th overall in the 8K with a 25:25 effort that was a 41-second personal best. Kyle Sabourin was 33rd in a 26:07 effort, while Micah Ellington was 43rd in 26:25 and Jay Broom was 57th in 26:43. Jackson Betts rounded out VMI's top five, crossing the line in 27:14, a time that lowered his 8K lifetime best for the third consecutive race. Tripp Fitch (27:16/71st), Jake Mazziotta (27:24/77th) and Carlos Fernandes (27:33/81st) also competed Friday.
"Today was a great day for our women's team," said VMI head coach Dr. Drew Ludtke. "We had a great team race today and I'm very proud of our outstanding leadership, attitude and competiveness. It was one of the most fun races I have coached as all six women ran well strategically, at or near their best times ever and accomplished it as a team. Our squad is ready to improve on last season's SoCon finish. On the men's side, we have improved a great deal as a team over the last two meets. Our top three stepped up and ran very well today. I am looking forward to seeing how the men's team can do in two weeks at SoCon's, and believe they can step up to have a great team race."
VMI cross country will return to action October 28 at the Southern Conference Championships in Spartanburg, S.C.