CLEMMONS, N.C. –
First-year head coach Jason Vigilante led Virginia’s men’s and women’s cross country teams to automatic berths into the 2008 NCAA Championships on Saturday morning at the NCAA Southeast Regional at Tanglewood State Park. The women won the Southeast Region title, outdistancing second-place Kentucky, 105-126, while the men matched their best outing, finishing runner-up to instate rival William & Mary, 66-67.
Seven Cavaliers earned All-Southeast Region honors on the day, as Virginia advanced both its men’s and women’s teams to the national championships for just the third time in the same season. It also marks the first time that both teams have advanced together by automatic qualification.
“Performances wise, we had a banner day for our program today,” Vigilante said. “We came within one point of both our men and women both winning a regional championship. But most importantly, it demonstrated how well our team has come together and I’m very proud of our young ladies and young men in how they represented themselves and the university.
“It’s not often you have an opportunity to win, especially at this level with so many teams competing. Being new to Virginia, I’m not sure the last time we accomplished this feat, but it was certainly a great feeling today.”
The women followed up an impressive run at the ACC Championships with a dominating performance this morning. Led by all-region performers fourth-year Lauretta Dezubay, first-year Morgane Gay and second-year Stephanie Garcia, the trio each placed in the top-10 of the 6k race to lead Virginia to a 105-126 victory over Kentucky.
Dezubay finished sixth in 21:00.6 to head the group, while Gay crossed immediately after her teammate, and as the first freshman across the line, claiming seventh in 21:02.7. Garcia finished ninth in 21:14.9 to earn her second all-region distinction, while third-year Samantha Stafford narrowly missed the honor, finishing 28th in 21:50.5. Third-year Susan Brooks rounded out the scoring Cavaliers, placing 55th in 22:20.1.
“The women certainly know that the way they’ve come together and stepped up and competed together is superb”, Vigilante said. “They’re extremely proud of themselves for their accomplishments today.”
The men entered the race as the top-ranked team in the region, but were narrowly upset by William & Mary, 66-67. Led by second-year Emil Heineking and sixth-year Ryan Foster, the Cavalier men placed three in the top-10 of the 10k race, with four earning all-region honors.
Heineking was the first Cavalier across the line, finishing third in 30:21.8, to earn his second-consecutive all-region honor. Foster, the 2008 ACC Champion, finished fourth in 30:24.8 to earn his fourth All-Southeast Region distinction, while first-year Ryan Collins was the first freshman to cross the line, placing 10th in 30:40.8 to earn regional honors.
Second-year Graham Tribble rounded out the Cavaliers with all-region performances in his first competition at the meet, completing the course in 31:13.1 to take 19th, while third-year Andrew Jesien rounded out the scoring Cavaliers, finishing 31st in 31:39.2.
“Obviously, nobody likes to lose, especially by such a narrow margin,” Vigilante said. “But, we are pleased that we’ve qualified for the national championships and look forward to the opportunity to compete against the nations best in the coming days.”
Virginia will conclude it’s season on Monday, Nov. 24 at the NCAA Championships. The national meet is set to take place in Terre Haute, Ind., with the women’s 6k race taking off at 12:08 p.m. and the men’s 10k race following at 12:48 p.m. Both races will be broadcast live on CBS College Sports.