Thursday, December 24, 2009

Spiders Shine in Richmond Races

Llano, Benford and Wilson finish in the top 12 in the 8K

Molz places 5th in SunTrust Marathon Debut

November 17, 2009

(Richmond, VA) The University of Richmond was well represented in the recent SunTrust Marathon and HCA VA 8K races held in Richmond. Several current athletes and recent graduates from the track & field and cross country programs excelled in the races that brought over 15,000 participants from around the world to the capital city.

Leading the Spiders contingent were cross country and track standouts Matt Llano (Broadneck HS, MD), Andrew Benford (Ravenswood HS, WV), Jon Wilson (Falmouth, ME), Adam Spatacco (Radnor HS, PA), Jon Grissom (Centennial HS, GA) and Amy Van Alstine (Midland Park HS, NJ). All six team members competed in the HCA VA 8K and are redshirting this cross country season.

Llano crossed the line in 23:25, averaging 4:41 per mile for the 8K event to lead the Spider contingent with his sixth-place overall finish. He is coming off strong performances this fall at the 34th Annapolis 10 Mile Race where he won in course record time (49:38) and the great Cow Harbor 10K (Northport, NY) where he placed 4th in 29:48.

The 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championship qualifier, who ran 29:06 for 10K at the 2009 Mt. SAC Relays, went out with the leaders and his teammates Benford and Wilson in the HCA VA 8K. They covered the first mile in 4:39 before settling into a good tempo on the streets of downtown Richmond.

"I felt really good out there," said Llano. "Andrew and I led the first mile while the Kenyan’s sat back. By 2 miles the front five got away from us and I ran the rest of the race alone. I closed really well on the last mile and nearly moved into 5th place.”

Benford, who is coming off a 13th-place finish at the 2009 IAAF World Mountain Running Championships in Italy, finished in 8th place with a personal best 23:44. He was followed by Jon Wilson (12th-24:27), Adam Spatacco (29th-28:10) and Jon Grissom (37th- 28:57).

"It was a good race", said Benford. “I’ve run some faster workouts since the World Mountain Championships and have been feeling better in my training. Our 3K workout last week, where Matt and I ran 8:11 and 8:12, told me we were ready for a fast race."

The Spiders lone entry in the 8K on the women’s side was Amy Van Alstine. Van Alstine, who has run under 17 minutes for 5K for the Spiders, finished an impressive 6th among the women’s field and 3rd among USA runners. Her time of 29:27 is a personal best for the distance.

The SunTrust Marathon was held under less than ideal conditions. Light rain showers, high humidity and gusting winds ruled the day. Spiders assistant cross country coaches Jon Molz (UR ’08) and Sherry Sikora Hannay (UR ’03) joined Jeff Watson (UR ’04), Matt Hannay (UR ’04), Emily Ward (UR ’04) and Rebecca White Sherck (UR ’05), in the SunTrust Marathon which featured a field of more than 5,000 runners.

For Molz, this was his first marathon. The former Atlantic 10 Champion and NCAA Regional Qualifier in the 3K steeplechase went into the race looking for a top 5 finish. After a slow start the pace began to quicken. At 10 miles Molz made his move to chase down the leader covering the next three miles in 5 minutes per mile and hitting the halfway point of the race (13.1 miles) in 1:10:11 and 20 miles in 1:48:22. By 23 miles he began to feel the effects of the distance and began to have stomach problems.

“The first few miles were slower than I thought they would be but no one wanted to take the pace”, said Molz. “By 10 miles we got rolling and by the time I got to 23 miles I started getting sick to my stomach and throwing up. All the fluid I had taken in during the race came out at that point. From there I was only thinking about finishing. A couple guys passed me and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. I lost over 6 minutes in the last 3 ½ miles. I’m still happy to finish and get my first marathon under me.”

Molz time of 2:28:33 was good enough for 5th place overall. Also in the marathon for the men were Alumni Jeff Watson (2:48:54) who placed 25th and Matt Hannay (2:54:51) who placed 37th.

2004 Graduate Emily Ward (photo right) had a great race finishing 4th overall and top USA runner. Her time of 2:58:48 is a personal best. She was followed by former teammate and current assistant cross country coach Sherry Sikora Hannay (3:00:37) in 7th overall among females and Rebecca White Sherck (3:16:41).

“I wanted to go under three hours”, said Hannay. “I was 1:30:10 at the ½ marathon point and thought I had a shot at it. The hills got me in the middle. It’s still a personal best for me. I’ll focus on Boston now.”

An all-time record of 15,723 runners participated in this past weekend’s events. The 26.2-mile SunTrust Richmond Marathon and the 13.1-mile McDonald’s Half Marathon both drew a record-breaking number of entries – 5,188 and 5,572 respectively. The HCA Virginia 8k had a total of 4,564 runners, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch Kid’s Run on Friday evening drew in 399 participants.

Link to slideshow:

Results Link:

HCA VA 8K (Richmond’s Results)

Matt Llano (UR ’11)- 6th Overall- 23:25 (Top USA Runner)
Andrew Benford (UR ’11)- 8th Overall- 23:44 (2nd USA Runner)
Jon Wilson (UR ’11)-12th Overall- 24:27
Adam Spatacco (UR ’13)- 29th- 28:10
Jon Grissom (UR ’12)- 37th – 28:57

Amy Van Alstine (UR ’11)- 6th Female - 29:27 (3rd USA Female Runner)

SunTrust Marathon (Richmond’s Results)

Jon Molz (UR ’08)- 5th overall-2:28:33- UR Assistant XC Coach
(1:10:11 at ½ Marathon/1:48:22 at 20 miles)
Jeff Watson (UR ’03)- 25th overall- 2:48:54
Matt Hannay (UR ’03)- 37th overall- 2:54:51

Emily Ward
(UR ’04)- 4th Female- 2:58:48 (Top USA Female Runner)
Sherry Sikora Hannay (UR ’03)-7th Female- 3:00:37- UR Assistant XC Coach
Rebecca White Sherck (UR ’05)- 37th Female -3:16:41

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