Virginia cross country completes at Cavalier Classic

The Cavalier men claim team and individual titles in home opener

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Junior Rohann Asfaw finished in first place during the men's 8K race, leading the Cavalier men to an overall team victory at the Cavalier Classic.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

In its second meet of the season and home opener, the Virginia cross country team came up with a strong performance in the inaugural Cavalier Classic at Panorama Farms. The men’s team especially stood out, claiming both the team and individual titles.

The meet featured both the men’s and women’s teams in an 8K race for the men and 5K race for the women.

Only five teams competed in each race. The small, early-season showcase brought North Carolina, Norfolk State and Tennessee to Charlottesville for both races, with Duke solely competing in the men’s race and Maryland in the women’s race.

The Virginia men took care of business on home turf, claiming both the individual and team titles. They won with 29 points, followed by Duke with 37 points and North Carolina with 64 points.

Looking dominate from the start, Virginia consistently maintained a presence in the front pack. At the 2K split, all 14 Virginia runners were within two seconds of each other. 

By the 4K marker, the individual champion, junior Rohann Asfaw, moved into the first place position with several Virginia runners by his side. From this point to the finish, the men would change positions but continue to keep their scoring five within the top 10 overall spots. 

Entering the home stretch, Asfaw found himself behind two Duke runners. In the final seconds, Asfaw broke free and kicked into another gear, crossing the finish line in first place with a time of 24:25.9.

“I wanted to come out here [and] represent Virginia well,” Asfaw said. “[The team’s] goal was to stay as a pack as long as we could. The last 3K we wanted to focus on finishing strong.”

Not far behind were the rest of the Virginia men. Junior AJ Ernst took fourth place, freshman Peter Morris took sixth, senior Alex Corbett finished eighth and senior Ari Klau rounded out the scoring five in 10th place. 

Other notable performances included senior Spencer Dodds finishing 11th overall and a trio — senior Matthew Novak, sophomore Harry Monroe and junior Lachlan Cook — grabbing the No. 16 through No. 18 spots. Overall, nine Virginia runners finished in the top 20.

"We had a great event out at Panorama Farms today, and it was a nice start for the men's group," Coach Jason Dunn said. "It's still quite early in our season, and there is a lot we can improve upon, but I was definitely pleased with a couple of our younger guys, particularly Rohann [Asfaw] and Peter [Morris] who both are clearly much improved from a year ago."

After the conclusion of the men’s race, eight Virginia women took to the course. With the meet being so early in the season, Coach Megan LaVoie decided to only race the younger, more inexperienced runners. Regardless, the women remained competitive with three runners in the top 15 and a third place finish overall in the competition.

Junior Hannah Moran was the first Cavalier to cross the finish line — she took sixth place with a time of 17:31.0. Moran ran with fellow junior teammates Kiera Bothwell and Olivia Sargent through the 2K and then began to separate herself as the race progressed. Bothwell and Sargent finished milliseconds apart in spots 12 and 13 with times of 17:59.1 and 17:59.4, respectively.

Sophomores Doria Martingayle and Maddie Rennyson were the final two women in the scoring five. Martingayle placed 19th with a time of 18:13.2, with Rennyson following in 22nd place overall with a time of 18:19.8.

“It’s always exciting to compete on our home course at Panorama,” LaVoie said. “We are in a better spot than we were a year ago, but still have a lot more work to do. I thought Hannah [Moran] had a very solid race. I look forward to being back on our course in two weeks.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams return to the course in two weeks for the annual Virginia Panorama Farms Invitational Friday, Sept. 27 at 9:30 a.m.

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