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Nov. 9, 2012

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.—The Virginia men’s cross country team won its first NCAA Southeast Regional Championship Friday (Nov. 9) at McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte, N.C. With the win, the men will compete at the NCAA Championships next Saturday (Nov. 17) in Louisville, Ky.

The men had five finishers in the top 19 to earn 64 points and out-pace Eastern Kentucky, who placed second with 75 points. ACC Rivals NC State (102), Virginia Tech (150) and Duke (201) rounded out the top five.

“I’m proud of this team,” head men’s cross country coach Pete Watson said. “This was a great team effort from all of our guys. We executed the game plan to perfection. I’m excited for these guys winning UVa’s first men’s regional title.”

On the women’s side, the Cavaliers placed eighth with 251 points. Duke won the team title with 81 points. Graduate student Catherine White (Roanoke, Va.) earned an NCAA individual berth and All-Southeast Region honors as a result of her fourth-place finish (20:22.64). It will be White’s fourth national cross country appearance and first since 2009, when she finished fourth overall for UVa.

Fellow graduate student Zach Gates (Fishers, Ind.) finished fourth to lead the men in 29:43.08, while redshirt freshman Kyle King (Yorktown, Va.) crossed the line 10th in 30:02.13.

“It’s great to have the team going to NCAAs,” Gates said. “Personally, I was happy with my race and it gives me confidence going into nationals.”

“I’m very pumped up,” King said. “As a team, we nailed it and I’m so proud of them.”

Junior Thomas Porter (Fredericksburg, Va.) placed 14th in 30:24.73, while grad student Mark Amirault (Walpole, Mass.) and sophomore Drew Paisley (Virginia Beach, Va.) finished 17th and 19th, respectively, to round out the scoring five. The men’s top five finishers all earned All-Southeast Region honors.

“We did exactly what we wanted to do as a team,” Amirault said. “We are going into NCAA’s with a lot of confidence.”

“Thomas and Drew stepped up huge for us today,” director of track and field/cross country Bryan Fetzer said. “They ran unbelievable today and we wouldn’t be going to nationals without them.”

On the women’s side, junior Barbara Strehler (Richmond, Va.) also earned All-Southeast Region honors in addition to White with a 20th-place finish (21:05.66), while classmate Katherine Walker (Stafford, Va.) crossed the line 38th in 21:33.68. Freshman Audrey Batzel (Virginia Beach, Va.) placed 63rd and sophomore Kathleen Stevens (Blacksburg, Va.) finished 132nd to complete the Virginia scoring five.

“We did not run well collectively as a team, so I’m disappointed in our overall performance,” White said. “Fortunately, I qualified as an individual, so now it’s time to refocus and get excited for nationals.”

“Catherine ran a smart race and put herself in a spot to always be able to cover the move of the lead group,” head women’s cross country coach Todd Morgan said. “I am really proud of how she handled today. As a team, we have had our share of adversity, but we are not using that as an excuse. We have to find a way to get better and starts at the top with me.”

The NCAA Championships will be held at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 17. The women’s 6K championships will start at noon, while the men’s 10k championship will begin at 1:15 p.m.

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