LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Coming off its first team win of the season, the Virginia Tech men’s cross country team took sixth place at the 2012 Pre-Nationals hosted by the University of Louisville at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Parke. It was the most competitive field that Tech has seen this season as five teams were ranked in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s national poll. The Hokies finished four points ahead of No. 9 Tulsa.
“It was a good starting race for us as far as it was the first race where we really raced hard from start to finish,” Virginia Tech head coach Ben Thomas said. “Will Mulherin and Leoule Degfae each gave an outstanding effort in a very competitive field.”
In the Men’s Red Seeded 8k race, Mulherin paced Tech’s squad with a sixth-place result after finishing with a time of 23:20.5. It was just over a second behind the senior’s career best of 23.19.3 which he posted at the 2011 ACC Championships. Leoule Degfae also had a top-20 finish for the Hokies, taking 19th after crossing the finish line with a career-best time of 23:46.2.
“Our three, four and five were OK, but certainly it was not their best day,” Thomas added. “It was Tommy Curtin’s first race and he went out really well. It was a tough test for his first race out and I thought he handled it well. He’s going to get better, just as I think Michael Hammond is going to get a lot better.”
Against ACC squads, Tech finished one point behind Duke and 12 points back of No. 14 Florida State as the three teams finished 4-5-6.
"We’re going to have to get a lot better if we’re going to have a chance to win conference," Thomas said. "It was nice to beat some teams that were ranked or high-level teams, but it was also disappointing to lose to two conference teams. We have our work cut out for us for the conference championship in a couple weeks but we’re looking forward to the challenge."
In the unseeded men’s race, freshman Darren Barlow had Virginia Tech’s best finish, taking 13th with a time of 24:39.9.
The women’s team finished 31st in the Red Seeded 6k, with Sarah Rapp earning a top-100 result, finishing 96th with a time of 21:33.2
The Hokies will now turn their attention to the ACC Championships at the Tech Cross Country Course in Blacksburg on Oct. 27.
For updates on Virginia Tech cross country, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Track).