Virginia Cross Country: 2009 Season in Review
2009 Cross Country Season in Review
After a strong finish to the 2008 season, the Cavaliers returned with great expectations for this year. With the leadership of two-time All-American Emil Heineking and all-region performers Ryan Collins and Graham Tribble, the team’s season was in good hands.
Heineking led the team in a dominating season-opener by winning the Lou Onesty Invitational at Panorama Farms by more than 55 seconds and setting a new meet record. He followed that up with another victory at the George Mason Invitational, where the squad won its second-straight team title.
In the inaugural Panorama Farms Invitational, the Cavaliers invited three nationally ranked opponents to Charlottesville, where Heineking was once again dominating, shattering the course record and leading Virginia to another team title, upsetting Syracuse along the way.
Entering the ACC Championships, the Cavaliers – and Heineking – were undefeated. Heineking led the majority of the race before teammate Collins and a Florida State Seminole provided a late challenge. Heineking and Collins held on for the 1-2 finishing, though, leading the team to second place overall.
The Cavaliers took fifth at the NCAA Southeast Regional and took advantage of an at-large berth to the NCAA Championships. Collins, Heineking and Tribble all earned all-region honors and led by a 41st-place finish by Collins at nationals, the Cavaliers finished 15th overall.
The Cavaliers started off the 2009 season with reason with a positive outlook. After last season’s 26th-place finish at the NCAA Championships, in addition to winning the Southeast Regional Title for the first time in school history, UVa entered the new season ready to build on its success.
The team returned the bulk of its roster, including all-region performers Lauretta Dezubay, Stephanie Garcia, and Morgane Gay, as well as gaining a key addition in Catherine White – a junior transfer from Arkansas.
In the season-opener, the Cavaliers won the Lou Onesty Invitational at Panorama Farms behind Dezubay’s second-straight individual title. Continuing the streak, Virginia won it’s second meet, the George Mason Invitational, behind an individual title by White, who was making her debut as a Cavalier.
White continued to lead the Cavaliers throughout the season, eventually finishing runner-up at the ACC Championships in Cary, N.C. Gay helped anchor the team to a third-place finish at the conference meet, crossing in fourth to earn All-ACC honors.
The team entered the NCAA Southeast Regional with their sights high and did not disappoint. White won an outstanding race by nearly nine seconds to become the first Cavalier to ever win a regional title and was later named the Southeast Region Athlete of the Year. Gay also kept pace in the race, finishing eighth, while Garcia and Dezubay finished 18th and 25th, respectively, to earn their second-straight all-region accolades. As a whole, the team finished second at the meet and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
At Nationals, White once again led the team, this time with a fourth-place finish overall to help the squad to a 15th-place finish and earning her All-America honors. White’s finish was the highest for a Cavalier since 1982 when Leslie Welch won the national title.