VMI Men Second In SoCon XC

VMI Men Second In SoCon XC

VMI SENIOR Jahanzib Shahbaz runs with the leaders during the Southern Conference Cross Country Championship on Saturday morning in Macon, Georgia. Shahbaz placed second overall and is expected to be at the NCAA National Championship as the first individual representing the SoCon at the national race. The VMI men placed second as a team, and the women finished eighth. (VMI photo)

The Virginia Military Institute cross country teams completed the shortened 2020 season on a strong note, with excellent finishes at the Southern Conference Cross Country Championship held at the Georgia Premier Cross Country Course on Saturday morning in Macon, Georgia.

Furman won the men’s race with 20 points while VMI placed second with 63 points, the lowest team score since the Keydets returned to the SoCon in 2014. East Tennessee State finished third with 102 points. The VMI women’s team placed eighth overall with 185 points. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, VMI had only one regular-season meet, the Tom Scott Open XC Meet on Oct. 30 in Charlotte, N.C.

For the men, VMI senior Jahanzib Shahbaz placed second overall with an 8-kilometer time of 24:23.74 to earn First Team All-SoCon honors for the second straight year. With Furman qualifying for the NCAA championship as a team given its men’s victory, Shahbaz is expected to be at the NCAA National Championship as the first individual representing the SoCon at the national race.

“I am proud of the way the men’s team came together in the past two months,” said VMI head cross country coach Dr. Drew Ludtke. “I believe today’s experience will live as one of their greatest memories for their entire lives.”

Junior Gavin Jenkins earned Second Team All-SoCon recognition for the second straight year with his ninth-place mark of 25:47.44.

Leading the VMI women was senior Anna Armfield, who placed 15th overall in the field with a personal-best 5k time of 18:52.11. She earned the best female VMI score in Southern Conference history (14 points) by placing 15th overall. The women’s eighth-place finish ties the best VMI women’s placement in school history, and the 185 total team points is also the best in program history.

“I am proud of Anna, who was also our only senior at the meet,” Ludtke said. “She also ran a personal best time. The women really came together today to have great races, a learning experience, and the best VMI score in school history! I am proud of their work!”

The VMI women topped ninth-place The Citadel (242) and 10th-place Wofford (255).

For full results from the meet, visit www. vmikeydets.com.

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