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Men, women earn top finishes at cross country festival

Virginia's cross country teams traveled to Cary, N.C. this weekend to compete in the Great American Cross Country Festival. The unranked men's team managed to take second place overall, finishing as the runner-up to No. 16 William and Mary. The women's team, also unranked, took third behind No. 1 Duke and No. 6 BYU, winner of two recent national championships.

Led by sophomore runner Emily Harrison, the Virginia women finished nine points ahead of No. 21 Georgia in the 5K run, finishing with 110 points to Georgia's 119. Harrison is continuing her impressive career at the University following a great freshman year that included being the only Cavalier woman to make Nationals. Following Harrison, Kara Scanlin finished 18th with Jennifer Beury, Katie Read and Lauretta Dezubay finishing together at 34th, 36th and 37th.

On the men's side, Virginia was led by freshman Andy Biladeau in the 8K race. Biladeau finished in sixth place with Virginia runners Soeren Lindner, Andrew Dumm and Ryan Foster finishing 10th, 11th and 12th respectively. Lindner was the only male cross country member to qualify for Nationals last year and was named the ACC runner of the week Sept. 12.

In addition to top three finishes by both the men's and women's teams, the strong individual races turned in by the younger runners added to a positive outlook for the Cavaliers following the meet. Virginia coach Jason Dunn said he is impressed by the way Biladeau has made the transition from high school to collegiate running.

"Andy ran the high school meet at the Great American last year -- they have high school sections -- and I think that he might have placed about the same," Dunn said. "In the high school race and the college race, he did about the same, which says a lot about how much he has improved to take it to the next level and run towards the front."

Dunn also commented on the strong performances turned in by some members of the women's team.

"Emily ran really well," he said. "She got off to a slow start, but over the last 1,000 meters, she was running as fast as anyone else on the course. I think that if they had gone another 1,000 meters, she would have placed even higher. ... It is a pretty significant improvement. Kara Scanlin also did well. After two years of not running, she did really well."

Cross country takes a great deal of training in the offseason, and Scanlin returned from an injury to finish in the top 20.

"We have a couple of other runners that have contributed in the past that made big strides over the summer that will contribute this season," said senior Shannon Hawrylo, who finished 61st.

Dunn maintained that the good finishes by the cross country teams in the Great American Cross Country Festival is only the beginning.

"I think that we ran really well on both sides, and I think that we still have a ways to go," Dunn said. "I know that we are going to get better as the season goes on."