Cavaliers prepare to host Panorama Farms Invitational
Meet provides initial test for looming postseason competitions
Nearly a month has passed since the last time the Virginia men and women’s cross country teams laced up their spikes. Questions about leadership and newcomers which loomed over the team leading up to the season have since been answered, and coaches Pete Watson and Todd Morgan can turn their attention to the beginning of real competition with the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational this Saturday.
The Cavaliers are by no means easing into the heart of their schedule. Several ranked teams are expected to compete, including No. 9 Syracuse on the men’s side and No. 4 Duke and no. 14 William & Mary for the women.
Other unranked teams will provide a serious test. The Duke men fell a few votes shy of being ranked in the latest coaches’ poll, and the Harvard women reached the NCAA Championship last year.
Facing the nation’s elite is crucial for Virginia, since only two meets remain until the ACC Championships. That leaves very little time to measure up against not only their own expectations but also against opponents they will potentially face again in the postseason.
“For us, we want to see if we’re better than we were 365 days ago,” women’s coach Todd Morgan said. “There are also some good teams coming, and we want to see how we stack up against some nationally ranked opponents.”
The invitational will serve as a trial by fire for several key athletes who have little to no experience in collegiate cross country. One such runner is redshirt freshman Adam Visokay.
Visokay did compete in the U.Va. Duals last month and was the second Cavalier to cross the finish line. This strong showing has cemented Visokay as the men’s number two runner, and has merited a comparison to top Virginia runner and U.Va. Duals champion sophomore Kyle King.
King played an invaluable role for Virginia as the team made a push into the 2012 NCAA Championships, and he started off the season by running a 24:32.11 8K race at the 2012 Panorama Farms Invitational.
“It is pretty clear that Kyle King and Adam Visokay are leading the way,” men’s coach Pete Watson said. “Kyle came in as a redshirt freshman, and ran very well. We think that Adam is following a very similar track.”
A typical sports cliché relates any season to a marathon, not a sprint. One would expect the same comparison for the 2013 cross country season. Ironically, that is not the case.
At the end of competition Saturday, both the women and men have but one final meet before the ACC Championship in early November. The women will head to Terre Haute, Ill. for Pre-Nationals Oct. 19, and the men will compete in the Notre Dame Invitational next weekend.
Running against several ACC and Southeast Regional foes will only add to the excitement and stoke the competitive fires for all the Virginia runners.
“It sets the benchmark for the season,” King said. “This will be a good indicator of where we are and where we should be later in the season.”