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Nov. 17, 2012

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LOUISVILLE, Ky.–The Virginia men’s cross country team finished 14th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships Saturday afternoon (Nov. 17) at E.P. `Tom’ Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky. Graduate students Zach Gates and Catherine White earned All-America honors for finishing in the top 40.

The Cavalier men, who finished ninth in the NCAA Southeast Region a year ago, placed 14th at the national meet with 382 points, their best finish since 2008.

“We’re going in the right direction,” head men’s cross country coach Pete Watson said. “This meet is the hardest meet for those who have never run it before and for these guys like Kyle (King), Thomas (Porter), Drew (Paisley) and Jack (St. Marie), this was a very valuable experience for them. We wanted to be a little better, but it’s a pretty positive finish and I’m happy with where we’re headed.”

Virginia was led by Gates (Fishers, Ind.), who came back from two early falls to earn an All-America citation with a 22nd-place finish in 29:48.3.

“After falling early, I just tried to keep my composure,” Gates said. “I expended a lot of energy in the middle of the race that I usually don’t, but I still had a little bit at the end to move up from the 25 to 30 range I was in with. I performed about as well as I could have, considering the two falls.”

Fellow grad student Mark Amirault (Walpole, Mass.) was next for the Cavaliers in 72nd overall in 30:30.4, while redshirt freshman Kyle King (Yorktown, Va.) was 99th in 30:42.8. Junior Thomas Porter (Fredericksburg, Va.) was 109th and sophomore Jack St. Marie (Westlake, Ohio) was 189th to round out the scoring five.

“We’re building this program to last,” director of track and field/cross country Bryan Fetzer said. “This was a good step in that direction and the experience that the young guys gained today will really help us in the future.”

Oklahoma State won the team title with 72 points, while Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech won the individual title in 28:31.3.

White, (Roanoke, Va.) running as an individual, finished 33rd in the women’s race in a 6K time of 20:11.8 to earn All-America honors. It was White’s first national cross country appearance since 2009 because of injuries. Betsy Saina of Iowa State won the individual title (19:27.9), while Oregon claimed the team championship.

“It was a solid performance,” White said. “It wasn’t what my goal was, but I’m very happy with being an All-American. It was a tough race and I was happy with how I responded to some moves during the race. It’s encouraging as I head into outdoor track (White does not have any remaining eligibility in indoor track).”

“It’s great that Catherine ended her cross country career with an All-America honor,” head women’s cross country coach Todd Morgan said. “She has done so much for this program. She’s not only been a great runner, but she’s been a great leader and example to others. She’s gone through a lot of adversity to get here, but we’re appreciative that we were able to have her this season.”

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