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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The No. 12 Virginia women’s cross country team claimed its second Southeast Region Championship in the past three years Saturday morning at Louisville’s E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park. The Cavaliers placed four runners in the top-25, each earning all-region honors, while Virginia edged No. 21 North Carolina for the title, 65-100.

With the win, the Cavalier women earn an automatic bid into the 2010 NCAA Cross Country Championships for the third-straight year. This will mark Virginia’s fifth trip to NCAAs in the past six years and 11th appearance overall.

For the men, senior Emil Heineking became the first Cavalier male to earn All-Southeast Region honors four times, finishing the first 10k race of the season in fifth with a time of 30:24.9. Redshirt junior Ryan Collins was second for Virginia, claiming his third-straight all-region honor with a seventh-place finish in 30:28.7. The Cavalier men, ranked 21st nationally, finished sixth overall and will need to await tomorrow’s announcement of at-large team and individual bids to find out their NCAA Championship fate.

Junior Morgane Gay led the women’s squad with a fourth-place finish, completing the 6k course in 20:18.6 to become the fourth Cavalier to earn a top-five finish in the nine-year history of the championship. The top-25 finish also marks the third-straight All-Southeast Region honor for Gay.

Sophomore Barbara Strehler was Virginia’s second finisher, taking eighth in 20:26.5, while redshirt senior Stephanie Garcia earned her fourth all-region certificate, finishing 10th in 20:26.9. This marks the first All-Southeast Region honor for Strehler, while Garcia becomes the second Cavalier to earn four regional awards throughout her career. Former Cavalier All-American Emily Harrison also did so from 2004-07.

Fourth for Virginia was Katherine Walker – the second freshman finisher – claiming 17th with a time of 20:59.6. Classmate Ariel Karabinus rounded out the scoring Cavaliers, missing all-region honors by one place, taking 26th with a time of 21:11.0.

Behind Heineking and Collins, redshirt sophomore Sean Keveren finished 27th in 31:18.8, while redshirt senior Graham Tribble finished 69th in 32:27.5 and junior Robbie Eckardt took 79th with a time of 32:43.7.

Virginia and North Carolina claimed the automatic bids into the 2010 NCAA Cross Country Championships on the women’s side, while No. 17 Duke finished third with 122 points, No. 29 NC State was fourth with 153 points and Virginia Tech was fifth with 208 points.

Freshman ACC Champion Laura Hoer won the women’s individual title for NC State in 19:54.5. North Carolina’s Kendra Schaaf finished runner-up in 20:02.4 and Wake Forest’s Anna Nosenko was third in 20:13.7.

The automatic bids on the men’s side went to No. 19 William & Mary (85) and No. 23 Duke (116). No. 16 NC State finished third with 131 points, Richmond was fourth with 158 points and No. 20 Louisville was fifth with 176 points.

Liberty had the top-two individual finishers on the men’s side. The regional title went to 2009 NCAA Champion Sam Chelenga, who finished with a time of 29:55.8. He was followed across the line by teammate Evans Kigen in 30:11.5 and East Kentucky’s Soufiane Bouchikhi was third in 30:18.8.

The at-large team and individual selections for NCAAs will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 14, no later than 7 p.m. The 31-team national championship races will be hosted by Indiana State at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday, Nov. 22.

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