The VCU men and women’s cross-country teams placed fifth overall at the Spiders Alumni Open in Mechanicsville, Virginia on Sept. 3.
The competition was presented by the Collegiate Running Association and races included the men’s 5,000 meter and women’s 2-mile run.
During the men’s 5,000 meter, freshmen Bryce Catlett and Lucas Sidle made impressive debuts for VCU. Catlett clocked in at 15:48.5 to place 19th in his first collegiate race. The Manassas, Virginia native Catlett won seven conference titles during his career at Osburn Park High School.
Sidle followed shortly behind Catlett to the line, placing 32nd with a time of 16:09.8.
VCU’s third-through-sixth finishers, senior Calvin Wood, junior Bismillah Alidost, freshman Brandon Wells and sophomore Michael Villagomaz placed 39th, 41st, 42nd and 43rd, respectively. They were all separated by just seven seconds.
The Ram’s top five men posted an average time of 16:15.98 and a combined time of 1:21:19.90.
In her her sixth year coaching the men and women’s teams, assistant coach Nicole Cook was more than pleased with the outcome of the meet last weekend.
“Today was a great day, we were able to see where we are right now and we know what we need to work on moving forward to our conference meet,” Cook said. “We have a long season ahead and today was a good beginning.”
Junior Nichelle Scott also had a solid breakout performance, finishing the two mile run with a time of 11:22.3. Like Catlett in the 5,000 meter, Scott also placed 19th overall and was the top finisher for VCU in the women’s season opener.
Scott, originally from Chesterfield, knocked 50 seconds off her personal record two-mile time. Last spring, Scott broke a school record in the 800-meter run and claimed an Atlantic 10 Outdoor Track & Field title in the event.
Freshman Delaney Savedge also shined during her VCU debut and placed 25th overall finishing with a time of 11:32.5. Senior Emily Dyke posted a time of 11:34.3, securing 26th place. Dyke has been VCU’s top finisher at the A-10 Championship Meet the last two seasons.
VCU placed five runners inside the top 40, including freshman Judith White, who clocked in at 11:49.3 and freshman Ashley Brown who crossed the finish line with a time of 11:51.3.
The women’s team averaged a time of 11:37.94 and finished with a combined time of 58:09.70.
Both teams started the season at the CNU Exhibition in Richmond on Sept. 1. The Spiders Alumni opener was the first official meet of the season. The teams will have three more meets before the A-10 championships begin in October.
“The athletes are a young, hard-working, talented team that are all working for a common goal,” Cook said. “In previous seasons that has not been there before.”
Cook, as well as the athletes, is determined to do better each meet and improve upon previous seasons.
“It’s a good way to see who we are as a team,” Cook said. “Do well and improve for the next meet. The athletes are doing better this season and that is all I can ask for.”
Next up, the Rams will head to New Market, Virginia on Saturday, Sept. 10 to compete in the JMU Open Invitational.
Jessica Wetzler, Contributing Writer