Ryan Grube, Staff Writer
Men’s and women’s cross country competed in the 2019 Mason Invitational at Oatlands Plantation Friday afternoon. A tough course presented difficult challenges for both teams, but the Rams were still able to find success with several top-50 finishers on either side.
The women led off the meet with the opening 5k, and they were able to secure sixth place overall with a score of 174 points.
Senior Delaney Savedge was the first to cross the line for the Rams, finishing with a time of 19:33.8 to take 24th place. The senior finished with a flurry of other runners, as just 40 seconds separated Savedge from the top 10.
Savedge was narrowly followed by senior Ashley Brown (19:45.7) and freshman Reyna Vazquez-Miller (19:55.5), who placed 28th and 35th, respectively.
Freshman Kasandra Aulenbach (44th) completed the string of top-50 finishers for VCU, clocking in a time of 20:06.9.
Director of Cross Country Nicole Cook said she was proud of the team’s response from the first meet, given Friday’s rugged conditions.
“They were able to hold the race a little bit longer with a tougher course, so I’m actually very pleased with them today,” Cook said. “I think this is a good confidence builder for them because still are just in the beginning phase of our training.”
Much like the women’s side, the men got out quick at the crack of the gun, packing up towards the front to begin the 8k race.
Senior Bryce Catlett paced the Rams for the second straight meet. He finished 19th at a mark of 26:30.7 to lead the black and gold to a seventh place finish with 169 points.
Sophomore Archie Blays wasn’t far behind Catlett, finishing in 36th place with a time of 27:06.9.
Sophomores Sean Molton and Hisham Vohra, and senior Lucas Sidle followed VCU’s top duo — all three finishing in the top 50 to lock in the Rams’ five scorers.
Cook said she was satisfied with the men’s effort in shifting from a 5k to Friday’s 8k. She said the group ran tough on a very challenging course.
“Transitioning from a 5k to the 8k is hard for anybody,” Cook said. “I think once we get down to conference [championships], we’re going to be even better, and be ready to rock and roll with everybody.”
Both VCU teams will be back at Oatlands Plantation on Nov. 2 for the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships — a meet Cook says her team will now be more prepared for.
“You know what to expect, so I’m very glad that we had the opportunity to come to this meet,” Cook said. “We could have gone to the regional meet course, but the conference meet is going to be more important for us.”
Next up for the Rams is the Lehigh University Paul Short Run at the Mountain Hawks’ course, Saturday, Oct. 5.