Top 10 Finishes Highlight Friday Cross Country Action

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Liberty Men's XC Goes 1-2-3-4 at Royal Challenge
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Liberty quartet of David Ricksecker, Caleb Edmonds, Ngetich Kipchirchir and Jeremie Bourget swept the first four places in the men's 8K race at Friday's Royal Cross Country Challenge. As a result, the Flames rolled to an impressive victory in the men's team standings with just 19 points.

Meanwhile, sophomore Meredith Mistretta's 11th-place effort led a short-handed Lady Flames squad to fourth place in the women's 5K on a sunny afternoon at McAlpine Park. The same venue will play host to the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Cross Country Championships on Nov. 9.

Liberty's top seven men's runners all notched 8K personal-best times in their final tuneup for the Oct. 27 Big South Cross Country Championships. The Flames' team score of 19 points was their lowest score since posting a perfect 15 points to win the Hagan Stone Park Classic title on Oct. 3, 2009. Liberty finished 61 points ahead of second-place Western Carolina in a field of 21 men's teams.

Running without senior standouts Jennifer Klugh and Khristina Kanagy, the Lady Flames saw their top nine runners all equal or improve upon their fastest collegiate 5K clockings. Six of them ran faster than 18:25, helping Liberty finish fourth of 25 teams with 89 points.

The top eight women's squads were all Southeast Region members, paced by Duke's winning score of 56. Davidson followed in the runner-up position with 69 tallies.

Men's 8K Race Recap
Ricksecker, a redshirt senior, covered the flat 8K course in a personal-best time of 24:07.6 to record the first individual victory of his collegiate cross country career. It was the first individual title by a Liberty men's runner since Zac Edwards won the men's 8K crown at the 2011 Big South Cross Country Championships.

Junior Edmonds and redshirt freshman Kipchirchir finished side-by-side in personal-best times of 24:08.4 and 24:08.5, respectively. Bourget then edged Elon's Luis Vargas for fourth place, cutting his 8K best time by 40 seconds to 24:15.7.

Will Templeton was the third freshman to finish the men's race, trailing only teammates Kipchirchir and Bourget. His personal-best 24:39.9 effort netted 10th place among the 189 men's finishers.

Redshirt sophomore Nate Jones and freshman Sam Hibbs closed out Liberty's top seven, coming in 16th and 17th, respectively. Jones shaved nearly a full minute off of his previous 8K best, stopping the clock in 25:10.9. Meanwhile, Hibbs' 25:18.4 effort was 46 seconds faster than his best 8K time entering Friday's race.

Women's 5K Race Recap
Mistretta continued her breakthrough sophomore campaign, trimming 13 more seconds off of her cross country 5K personal-best time. Her time of 18:04.03 placed her 11th out of 217 total women's finishers.

Five of Mistretta's teammates crossed the finish line within the next 21 seconds, paced by fellow sophomore and New Hampshire native Jacy Christiansen. She came in 17th, with a personal-best time of 18:12.94. Senior Betel Yosef tied her fastest-ever 5K effort, posting an 18:15.48 for the 20th position.

Liberty's next three runners came in consecutively in 27th, 28th and 29th place, with sisters Katie and Courtney Russo sandwiching junior Jessica Gass. Katie Russo's time was 18:23.37, followed by Gass in 18:24.54 and Courtney Russo in 18:24.98.

Gass made the team's most notable improvement upon her collegiate-best 5K clocking on Friday, lopping 59 seconds off of her previous best, 19:23. Meanwhile, Courtney Russo was the sixth-fastest freshman in the women's 5K race.

Sophomore Caroline Parris nearly made it seven Liberty runners under the 19:00 barrier on the day. She trimmed 36 seconds off of her fastest collegiate 5K time, clocking 19:04.24 for the 60th position.

Senior Lyndi Fielitz (82nd place, 19:32.14) and sophomore Mary Cate Cooper (87th place, 19:38.73) continued the parade of personal-best efforts for the Lady Flames.

Liberty will return to the Charlotte area for its next race, the Big South Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships on Oct. 27. Winthrop will host the event at the Winthrop Coliseum and Farm in Rock Hill, S.C.

The women's 5K championship will get the day started at 10:30 a.m., as the Lady Flames attempt to win their fifth Big South title in the last seven years. The Liberty men's team will then shoot for an unprecedented eighth consecutive Big South championship, in the men's 8K race at 11:30.

Longwood Men Finish 12th at Blue Ridge Open
BOONE, N.C. -- Longwood University posted 338 points in men's cross country to finish 12th among 16 teams at the Blue Ridge Open hosted by Appalachian State University of the Southern Conference Friday afternoon at the Don Kennedy Trails in Boone, North Carolina.  Wake Forest University of the Atlantic Coast Conference won the team title with 31 points, including four of the top 10 runners, while Robert Reynolds of George Mason University was the individual race winner with his time of 24:31 over the 8K course.  The Lancers were led by freshman Seth Taylor|Chesapeake (Grassfield) with his time of 26:26 to place 84th among the field of 146 competitors.  Longwood will compete in its first-ever Big South Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday, October 27, hosted by Winthrop University at the Winthrop Coliseum and Farm in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
   
Taylor ran the eighth-fastest 8K in the program's history, also a collegiate-best, and was followed across the finish line by senior Sean Flynn|Goodview (Roanoke Catholic) (26:54, 95th), sophomore Russell Reed|Onemo (Mathews) (27:14, 103rd), freshman Adam Link|Williamsburg (Walsingham Academy) (27:16, 104th), along with sophomores Nick Reed|Fairfax (Robinson) (27:45, 115th) and Trey Thomas|Stafford (Mountain View) (28:07, 119th).  Flynn ran a season-best 8K time.

HPU Women's Cross Country Takes Third at Blue Ridge
BOONE, N.C. -- The High Point University women's cross country team placed third at the Blue Ridge Open on Friday in Boone, N.C. HPU was the top Big South team and was led by junior Kayleigh Perry, who placed sixth overall.

Wake Forest won the meet with 44 points followed by Belmont (78) and High Point (94). Host Appalachian State and VMI tied for fourth with 115 points and Coastal Carolina placed sixth (124). Among other Big South schools competing, Radford placed 10th, Longwood placed 11th and Gardner-Webb placed 12th.

Perry placed sixth with a time of 18:20.93, Blackwell placed 12th in 18:30.01 and Hunt took 14th in 18:33.79. Junior Audrey Malloy placed 33rd in 19:01.01 and freshman Erika Peoples took 35th in 19:03.40.

In just her second collegiate race, Bode was HPU's sixth finisher in 37th overall with a time of 19:08.11. Sophomore Sarah Dorrell placed 41st in 19:21.64 and senior Kelsey Paine took 53rd in 19:33.82.

Freshman Katie Farina placed 57th in 19:45.14 and junior Colleen Hollowood took 67th in 19:58.44. Freshmen Julia Zautcke, Lindsey Siska and Rebecca Baldinger placed 75th, 82nd and 103rd, respectively, in the 121-runner field.

High Point competes in the Big South Championship on Oct. 27 at 10:30 a.m. in Rock Hill, S.C. The Panthers are defending conference champ and return four All-Big South honorees from last season: Perry, Malloy, Hunt and Paine.

Longwood Women Finish 11th at Blue Ridge Open
BOONE, N.C. -- Longwood University posted 324 points in women's cross country to finish 11th among 14 teams at the Blue Ridge Open hosted by Appalachian State University of the Southern Conference Friday afternoon at the Don Kennedy Trails in Boone, North Carolina.  Wake Forest University of the Atlantic Coast Conference won the team title with 44 points, as Wake's Nicole Irving was the individual race winner with her time of 17:28 over the 5K course.  The Lancers were led by junior Alisha Royal|Vinton (William Byrd) with her time of 18:49 over the 5K course to place 24th among the field of 121 competitors.  Longwood will compete in its first-ever Big South Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday, October 27, hosted by Winthrop University at the Winthrop Coliseum and Farm in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
   
Royal ran the eighth-fastest 5K in the program's history, and was followed across the finish line by junior Crystal Baxley|Virginia Beach (First Colonial) (20:57, 89th), sophomore Elisabeth Drake|Hayes (Gloucester) (21:24, 99th), seniors Megan Short|Sicklerville, N.J. (Timber Creek) (21:56, 108th), Rebecca Denny|Virginia Beach (Kempsville) (22:19, 111th) and Jenna Sprinkle|Buchanan (James River) (22:36, 112th), along with sophomore Brittany Foote|Goshen, N.Y. (Goshen) (22:54, 113th).  Royal now owns six of the all-time 10 fastest times for the distance in the 12-year history of the program, posting six sub-19 minute 5K times, including the three fastest 5K times (18:22, 18:23, 18:34).  Baxley ran a new collegiate-best time for the 5K distance, and Denny posted a new season-best 5K time.

HPU Men's Cross Country Runs to Eighth-Place Finish in Boone
BOONE, N.C. --  With the majority of the High Point University men's cross country team in Arkansas, seven HPU runners competed in the Blue Ridge Open and placed eighth as a team on Friday in Boone, N.C. Junior John Yankello was the Panthers' top finisher in 52nd overall.

Yankello took 52nd in 25:45.07 and Colo placed 53rd in 25:45.12. Freshman Ben Robinson was High Point's third finisher in 70th overall in a time of 26:05.96.

Senior Dakota Peachee placed 75th in 26:17.68. Freshmen Kevin Maguire and Eddie Whitlock finished 92nd and 93rd, respectively. Maguire finished in 26:41.51 and Whitlock came in at 26:43.43. Freshman Kevin Kreider placed 112th in 27:30.42.

Wake Forest won the race with 31 points followed by George Mason (43) and East Tennessee State (107). Besides HPU, five other Big South schools competed on Friday: VMI (fifth), Coastal Carolina (10th), Longwood (12th), Radford (13th) and Gardner-Webb (14th).

High Point's top seven runners are competing in the Chile Pepper Festival on Saturday morning at the University of Arkansas. It's HPU's final test before the Big South Championship on Oct. 29 in Rock Hill, S.C.

VMI Men's Cross Country Finishes Fifth at Blue Ridge Open
BOONE, N.C. - In the team's final tune-up for the Big South Championships, VMI men's cross country finished fifth at the Blue Ridge Open, hosted Friday by Appalachian State in Boone, N.C.

The Keydets finished fifth overall, logging 121 points and finishing in front of several teams, including N.C. State's B squad (6th/145 points), Belmont (7th/191), High Point (8th/244), UNC Wilmington (9th/244) and Coastal Carolina (10th/304). Wake Forest won the team title, while VMI defeated other Big South schools in Longwood, Radford and Gardner-Webb.

Andrey Dmitriev led the way for the Keydets on Friday, finishing ninth in 24:58, while Cabell Willis placed 16th in 25:05. Will Thompson recorded a 19th-place result, clocking in at 25:08, while Hartnel Paultre was 55th in 25:50. Freshman Sean Helmke, who came home in 25:59, recorded a 63rd-place finish. Booth Hornsby was 66th in 26:01, while Jason Thorpe was 77th in 26:18. Patrick Spahn (80th/26:21), Steven Trayer (90th/26:39) and Guy Shelby (100th/27:06) rounded out the VMI competitors.

VMI cross country returns to action Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Big South Championships in Rock Hill, S.C. Action gets underway with the women's race at 10:30 a.m., while the men's race is scheduled to start one hour later.

Keydets Tie for Fourth at Blue Ridge Open
BOONE, N.C. - Competing in its final tune-up for the Big South Championships, the VMI women's cross country team finished tied for fourth place at Friday's Blue Ridge Open, contested in Boone, N.C.

The Keydets tied with the "B" squad of host Appalachian State, with both teams having 115 points. That total was just 21 points behind one of the favorite for the Big South title, High Point, who finished third during Friday's proceedings. Wake Forest (44 points) and Belmont (78) went 1-2 in the team standings, while VMI bested fellow Big South teams Coastal Carolina (124 pts/6th), Radford (314/10th), Longwood (324/11th) and Gardner-Webb (341/12th) in the 15-team race.

Jenna Moye led the way for the Keydets on Friday, finishing fourth in 18:06, while Natalie Young finished 11th in 18:26. Michelle Church (30th/18:58.17) and Leah Schubel (31st/18:58.58) finished less than a second apart, while Kelsey Newcomb was VMI's #5 runner, finishing 50th in 19:31, and Nina Srikongyos rounded out the Keydet competitors by placing 84th in 20:31.

VMI cross country will return to action on Saturday, Oct. 27, to compete in the Big South Championships in Rock Hill, S.C. Action will get underway with the women's race at 10:30 a.m.