Friday, September 11, 2015

USATF-Virginia Crowns Cross Country Champions at 2015 Spider Alumni Open

Courtney Thompson and Tim Gruber interviewing on Spider_TV
following the races. Go Spiders!
Below are links and articles linked to the 2015 Spider Alumni Open and the USATF-Virginia Cross Country Championships...A few thoughts before the articles...

This was the 14th year for the Spider Alumni open and the second year we've hosted the USATF-Virginia Cross Country Championships as part of the event.  To say I look forward to this meet is really an understatement. No one is likely to understand what it means to both Lori and I to have our alumni back in Richmond, watch our current teams compete for the first time and catch up with old friends and officials.  It's something old coaches appreciate and look forward to...even when it is a busy few days leading into and hours surrounding the races.  A couple words might be all that are spoken in the hustle of administering the races, but it's exciting to see the former athletes, see them interacting with each other and to hear what they are doing in the world. Lori and I are grateful for the efforts of so many to make it to the meet to support the teams.

What a remarkable transition we've seen in our 14 years here at UR.  From an emerging group of young people, who on some levels were unsure of what was around the next corner who grew into confident leaders determined to bring the Richmond Spiders to the next level and now parents themselves, leading the way for their children. Let me say...plane and simple...that's what life is about---Family. How simple, yet awesome the moment was!

The USATF-Virginia Championship race started things off and what a surprise it was to see so many USATF Officials at the course to ensure a championship race experience.  Our hats off and many thanks to them for their efforts, not just this weekend but every weekend.

We are already looking forward to next year!


A great crowd greeted runners from across Virginia
for the USATF-Virginia Cross Country Championships
and runners from the University of Richmond, Davidson,
George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth
University for the 2015 Spider Alumni Open.
UR Women Win Alumni Open; Men Finish Second
Courtesy: Richmond Athletics
Release: 09/05/2015

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. – The Richmond Women’s Cross Country team finished first in the 2015 Spider Alumni Open at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville, Va. The Spider Men’s Cross Country team came in second in the 14thedition of the race.
The standout performer of the day was sophomoreCourtney Thompson who finished in first place in the two-mile women’s race with a time of 11:09.7. The Richmond women had five of the first seven finishers, with Kaelyn Heinicke finishing in third with a time of 11:22.5 and Marisa Ruskan finishing right behind her in fourth with a time of 11:23.4. The Spiders finished in first place with 21 points.
Hot and humid...That's September cross country
in Virginia.
USATF-Virginia Crowns Cross Country Champions

Murphy, Lautzenheiser win Senior Titles while Watson and Wood Claim Junior Titles

Collegiate Running Association Board Member,
Matt Hannay starts checking numbers as
runners begin moving to the start line
for the 2015 USATF-Virginia
Cross Country Championships.
Mechanicsville, VA - For the second consecutive year, the USATF-Virginia Association hosted their cross country championships as part of the Richmond Spider Alumni Open Cross Country Meet on the Pole Green Park Cross Country Course in Mechanicsville, Virginia.

In the Open Men’s race Ryan Murphy (Richmond, Va.) and Jason Driscoll (Richmond, Va.) battled throughout with the outcome undecided until the final stretch. In the end, Murphy (17:03) claimed the individual title by six seconds over RVA Distance Project teammate Driscoll (17:09). Robert Flanagan (S. Chesterfield, Va.) claimed the final podium spot with his bronze medal performance (17:52).

Murphy and Driscoll were joined by Colson Williams (Richmond, Va./18:09) to complete their newly formed RVA Distance Project team which claimed the Men’s Open team title. Their win earned their team $500 towards the USATF National Club Championships to be held this December in San Francisco, CA.

What was a close battle for the men’s open title was a runaway on the women’s side. Kathleen Lautzenheiser (Richmond, Va.) took the lead from the gun and never looked back as she raced to victory in a time of 18:43. Lautzenheiser claimed the Open Women’s title over Richmond Track & Field Club teammate Nicole Thomas (Richmond, Va./20:01). Rounding out the top three was Kate Spangler (Richmond, Va.) who ran 22:12.

Even the dogs were out to cheer on the runners.
Lautzenheizer and Thomas were joined by Bobbie Davey (Henrico, Va.) on the Richmond Track & Field Club’s team. The three scoring positions ensured they captured the Women’s Open team title and also qualified for the $500 travel stipend for the USATF National Club Championships to be held in San Francisco this December.

The junior races had the deepest fields on the day with 40 percent of the event’s competitors listed as under 20 years of age. Coming into the Junior Men’s Championships, the favorite was Jacob Watson of King George, Va. As expected, Watson, who placed 10th in the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships last December, claimed his first USATF-Virginia Junior Championship title. Watson used a fast start to steadily pull away from runner-up Gavin Jenkins (Washington, Va./17:34) and 3rd place finisher Jonathan Watson (18:25), who is only 15 years of age and the younger brother of Jacob.

In the Junior Women’s race it looked to be a battle between Julia Wood (Woodville, Va.), Khloe Pointer (North Chesterfield, Va.) and Archana Shekharan (Moseley, Va.), who all entered with strong resumes. Wood and Pointer placed 3rd and 4th respectively, separated by only two seconds, in the 2014 USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships last December in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Shekharan placed 32nd and collectively the three led their Richmond Track & Field Club to a runner-up spot in the national team championships among 15-16 year olds last December.

On this morning Julia Wood didn’t want it coming down to the end. Like her male counterpart she started fast with the open women’s leader and continued to press during the race. As she came down to the final stretch to the finish line she held a commanding lead over Khloe Pointer and finished comfortably in first in a time of 19:00. Pointer finished second in 19:44 followed by Archana Shekharan in 20:06 to round out the top three podium spots.

In the Women’s Junior Team Championship it was a sweep for the Richmond Track & Field Club as Wood, Pointer and Shekharan claimed the top 3 junior women’s places for a perfect team score.

Overall, the USATF-Virginia Cross Country Championships were met with high praise by participants and race directors alike. In its second year at Pole Green Park, the event expanded significantly both in the amount of participants and in the competitiveness within the age groups.

“We were really excited to host the USATF Virginia Championships again this year”, said University of Richmond Head Men’s Cross Country Coach and Collegiate Running Association Co-Founder Steve Taylor. “This Pole Green Cross Country Course is one of the best. It is spectator friendly and as nice of a running surface as I’ve seen. The Hanover County Parks & Recreation staff do a great job throughout the year in maintaining this facility.”

“We like watching this event grow and hosting in conjunction with our annual Spider Alumni Open” said Taylor. “Last year there were no complete teams and this year three categories were awarded. We are avid supporters of USATF Virginia and the officials. There were so many USATF Virginia officials out here today. They were amazing and we want to publicly thank them for their efforts, not just today but throughout the year.”

The Collegiate Running Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles through running, once again served as the presenting sponsor for the championships. “The CRA is happy to be the presenting sponsor of the races today’, said CRA Co-Founder Jon Molz. “We recognize the importance of being a support organization not just for our national championships events, but also for our local communities. As we grow as an organization, Richmond remains our home and it’s exciting to watch great races and be part of events like this.”

A complete list of the results can be found below:  

2015 USATF-Virginia Cross Country Championships RESULTS

Monday, August 24, 2015

2015 Spiders Cross Country Preseason-Mountain Lake Lodge

The view from Bald Knob at Mountain Lake Lodge.
For the past few years we have traveled to Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke, Virginia for our Richmond Spiders Cross Country Preseason Train Camp. Check out our photo album from our 2015 Preseason trip located HERE.

Kayak and Canoe trip down the New River...
 trail runs to places like War Spur Overlook...
workouts at Pandapas Pond...
and a long run past the Cascades Waterfall
all welcomed the Spiders to Giles County.
From long runs on trails to endless dirt roads and over 37 miles of the New River within the county...this area of Virginia has everything those who enjoy the outdoors want...
Nightly camp fires for telling stories and roasting s'mores.
A little history...Giles County covers 360 square miles with 37 miles of the New River flowing through its center..The County itself was established in 1806 from MontgomeryMonroeWythe, and Tazewell counties. It is named for William Branch Giles who was born in Amelia County in 1762. Giles became a lawyer and from there was elected to the United States House of Representatives where he served from 1790 to 1815. He also served on the Virginia General Assembly from 1816 to 1822. In 1827, he was elected Governor. In all, he served the U.S. and state around a total of forty years.

The county has preserved it's natural beauty and over the past several years started focusing even more on it's amazing resources...the Blue Ridge Mountains and the New River. The New River Water Trail offers some of the most amazing views found on any eastern U.S. river. Limestone cliffs call to you as you float by and watch as water fowl and the occasional bald eagle float by.

We took a 6 mile afternoon trip on the water trail with our men's and women's teams which included kayak's and canoe's rented from Tangent Outfitters in Pembroke. Talk about awesome people! Owner Shawn Hash and staff were amazing...They were waiting at the drop in point for our teams and picked us up on the other end of the 3.5 hour float trip.

Lori and Luke
Make no mistake our teams were there to run, train hard, challenge each other and to come together for the fall season. We accomplished a lot in the days we were there as we watched the coming together of soon to be lifelong friends.  As a coach, there's something about a team. You know when it happens...those moments when you see they are a team and you know they are collectively driven to achieve their best. It's the start of something... 

For us Giles County is where it begins...the great people...that laid back feeling you get when you are there...the cool mountain air...the slight altitude at Mountain Lake Lodge and the majestic mountains of Giles County keep pulling us back every year as our athletes prepare for the season.  

If you haven't been to Mountain Lake Lodge or Giles County, place it on your list of destinations.  You will find yourself going back for more...Lori and I have been doing so together for over 30 years...and hope to do so for 30 more.
War Spur Overlook on the mountain past the Mountain Lake Lodge.
A few team members on a stretch of the 37 miles of the New River in Giles County. 
The Cascades