Virginia men’s and women’s cross-country teams competed Saturday in the XC23 Invitational hosted by Virginia at Panorama Farms— the site of this year’s upcoming ACC Championship races and the 2023 NCAA Championships. The Cavaliers earned first place in the women’s race and second place in the men’s race, out of 18 and 17 teams respectively. The women’s team remains undefeated heading into the ACC Championships.
The men’s team competed in the 8000-meter event, while the women’s team competed in the 5000-meter event. There was one heat for each event. World-record holder Hicham El Guerrouj was the guest starter for the XC23 Invitational. He won a pair of Olympic gold medals as well as four world championships for the 1500-meter event. El Guerrouj currently holds the world record in the 1500-meter event with a time of 3:26. He also has the world’s fastest mile time — 3:43.13.
After El Guerroj’s gun, the Cavaliers quickly took the lead in the women’s race. Two kilometers in, Virginia made up five of the top-ten runners.
Sophomore distance runner Margot Appleton led the Cavaliers, placing third overall with a new personal best on a cross-country course with a time of 16:31 for the 5000-meter event. Appleton’s time was also the third-fastest ever run at Panorama Farms.
Sophomore distance runner Mia Barnett and sophomore distance runner Camryn Menninger finished right behind Appleton in third and fourth place, respectively. Barnett finished strong in just her second performance this time, and is peaking at the right time as the ACC Championships draw near.
The women’s team continued its dominant undefeated streak this season, scoring 32 points total. Ole Miss finished second with a total of 110 points, 78 points behind the Cavaliers. The Virginia women’s team also beat a ranked team — No. 27 Kentucky.
The No. 19 Virginia men’s team finished second overall, scoring 68 total points. The Cavaliers have finished in second or better in all of their meets this season. No. 7 Wake Forest finished first with a total of 47 points. The Cavaliers finished ahead of two other ranked teams — No. 18 Texas and No. 30 Charlotte.
The Cavaliers once again held a strong pack in the front of the men’s event. Sophomore distance runner Justin Wachtel led the Cavaliers, placing sixth overall with a new personal best on a cross-country course with a time of 23:20 for the 8k event.
A Virginia pack was not far behind, led by senior distance runner Rohann Asfaw and freshman distance runner Gary Martin. The Cavalier pack finished 15-16-17-18-19 to ensure a strong runner-up finish in the men’s event.
Vin Lananna, director of track and cross-country, was impressed by the teams’ performances and looks forward to the coming championship meets.
“Both teams did a great job today,” Vin Lananna said. “The women were dominant, and the men did an excellent job of pack running. We will continue to progress as a team, and we are looking forward what we can do as a group in a couple of weeks here at Panorama Farms for the ACC Championships.”
The next cross-country meet for Virginia is the ACC Cross-Country Championship held Oct. 28 at Panorama Farms in Earlysville, Va., marking the start of the championship season. After the ACC championship, the NCAA Southeast Regional will take place Nov. 11.