Road trip kind to cross country in season opener

Kaitlyn Johnson running in a cross country meet.

Boone, N.C. -- Never mind that they kicked off the season high in the Appalachian Mountains. Elevation didn't hurt the University of Lynchburg men's and women's cross country teams a bit.

Both squads took home sixth-place finishes from the Covered Bridge Invitational at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., Friday in season-opening action. Lynchburg was the only NCAA Division III team in either field.

Sophomore Kaitlyn Johnson (Spotsylvania, Va.) set the pace for the Hornets, cruising the 5k women's course in 18:37.24, a personal best, to finish 23rd. Junior Michela Cholak (Ocean Township, N.J.) set a PR at 18:56.62, as did senior Samantha Schreiber (Gladys, Va.), who placed 34th in 19:05.68.

Johnson's time ranks second in Lynchburg's program history in 5k races, and Cholak's is fifth.

The Hornet women finished only behind scholarship programs, trailing meet champion Florida State, Division I programs Appalachian State, East Tennessee State, and UNC Asheville; and Division II Wingate. Lynchburg bested Division II West Florida and Mars Hill as well as NJCAA member Louisburg.

Lynchburg's men got off to a great start as well, led by senior Tristan Lucy-Speidel (Fort Valley, Va.). He finished 30th, in 26:53.73, ahead of several Division I harriers. Freshman Max Sparks (Canton, Conn.) and junior Reid Sharkey (Fairfax, Va.) also posted top-40 finishes, clocking in at 27:06.69 and 27:14.14, respectively.

The Hornets will continue their season in two weeks, Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational in Blacksburg, Va.