MECHANICSVILLE, Va. -Richmond cross country opened its season at home on Saturday with the 11th annual running of the Spider Alumni Open at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville. The Spider men finished atop Saturday's six-team field, with the women taking second behind regional power William & Mary.
"We raced well as a team today and kept our pack together," said head men's coach Steve Taylor. "I was looking for a 1-5 split of less than 30 seconds, and our men did that. They raced hard and competed as Spiders. Ryan Lee, Chris York and Andrew Valenski did a good job leading our team and controlling the race, while our freshmen also ran well today."
"The crowd was great with a lot of parents and local coaches here to watch," added Taylor. "The course here at Pole Green Park is tremendous as well. It's easily one of the best cross country facilities I've seen in the state. It's simply a great venue for spectators to watch the events. We were also excited to have so many alumni back racing and watching. It's important for our team members to know our history. They get the opportunity to meet some of the men and women they've heard so many stories about. We appreciate all they did for our program as student-athletes and all they do now as alumni."
On the men's side, Richmond turned in a strong showing with 27 points in the morning's 5k race, well ahead of runner-up UMBC's 50-point performance. William & Mary took third with 61 points, followed by George Mason (100), Virginia State (151) and Old Dominion (177).
The Tribe women finished first with 23 points in Saturday's 2-Mile race, while the Spiders trailed closely with 32 points. UMBC rounded out the top three with 83 points, followed by George Mason (109) and Virginia State (150).
Junior Ryan Lee (Wilmington, Del./Archmere Academy) crossed the line in 15:03.2 and just behind the Tribe's Radford Gunzenhauser (15:01.4) to pace the Spiders with a runner-up finish. Senior Chris York (White Post, Va./Clarke County) clocked a time of 15:14.3 to take the third spot, with Andrew Valenski (Massapequa, N.Y./Massapequa) rounding out the top-five with a time of 15:17.8.
After taking the title at the Atlantic 10 Championship a season ago, Jill Prentice (Skillman, N.J./Montgomery) opened her junior campaign with a second-place showing of 10:37.7. The Tribe's Jess Cygan took the top spot with a time of 10:34.8. Allie Stapleton (Commack, N.Y./Commack) appeared strong in her sophomore debut, crossing the line seventh in 11:01.8, with senior Stephanie Paradis (Leesburg, Va./Stone Bridge) just behind in eighth (11:02.7).
"I felt it was a good start for our teams," said Director of Track & Field/Cross Country and head women's coach Lori Taylor. "They ran well and they ran tough. We were hoping for a team effort, and I felt like we executed just that. We need to now pull in our 1-5 split a bit and ensure that we can hold that for a full 5k and 6k distance. This is our starting point."
"We had a good crowd of parents and especially alumni out here today on a warm, humid morning," added Taylor. "These loyal alumni are the best. To have so many of them back together makes this an extra special event for all of us, especially Steve and me. Many of them came from great distances to be here supporting their team, and we can't thank them enough."
The Spiders return to the course on Saturday, Sept. 15 when they travel to Williamsburg, Va., for the William & Mary Invitational.
Stay updated on all the latest Richmond Cross Country news on RichmondSpiders.com and by accessing Spider Athletics' mobile apps on your Smartphone or tablet. More in-depth coverage can be found by following Head Coach Steve Taylor on Twitter and by reading his blog. The Spiders also have their own Facebook page and have launched their own YouTube Channel as well.
Alumni Open - Men's Team Results
1. Richmond (27)
2. Maryland-Baltimore County (50)
3. William & Mary (61)
4. George Mason (100)
5. Virginia State (151)
6. Old Dominion (177)
Alumni Open - Women's Team Results
1. William & Mary (23)
2. Richmond (32)
3. Maryland-Baltimore County (83)
4. George Mason (109)
5. Virginia State (150)