Cross Country Runners Open Strong at Liberty

LYNCHBURG, Va. – The VMI cross country teams opened the 2019 season with excellent performances Friday evening at the Liberty Challenge hosted by Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.


The meet did not score team points but served as an excellent opening course to gauge where the runners are at in a competitive 4k environment.  The Keydets competed with runners from host Liberty, Lynchburg University and the University of Virginia.


Senior Jahanzib Shahbaz led the men’s team with a 10th-place finish time of 12:57 and was pursued closely by Gavin Jenkins, who finished in 12th in 13:11. Ian Irizarry Negron came in 19th in 13:33 while Carlos Fernandes (21st, 13:38) and Walt Kitson (25th, 13:41) rounded out the top five runners for the group.


Justin Adams, Jake Maziotta, Andre Jordan, Kellen Reeves, Dylan Haines and Jeremiah Gaulding also competed for the men’s team.


“Our teams are a big family,” said VMI head coach Drew Ludtke. “We raced together and pushed each other well. Our goal was simple: to move up throughout the race and our teams executed that perfectly. 

“We held back more than half of our team because the rats have to train at 6 a.m. Saturday morning and we did not want to risk getting them sick or injured after a Friday night race. We will be excited to have the full squad at New Market.


The women’s team was paced by senior Logan Luckett and junior Anna Armfield, who tied for 22nd place in 16:33 a little ahead of Sara Belamarich’s 29th-place mark of 17:55. Raquel Janes (32nd, 19:29), Skylar Pierce (33rd, 19:35) and Brittany Szczepanik (38th, 20:28) rounded out the list of runners on the women’s side.


The Keydets next compete at the JMU Invitational in New Market, Virginia, on Saturday, Sept. 14.


Men’s 4K Results

Place Runner Affiliation Time

10) Jahanzib Shahbaz VMI 12:57

12) Gavin Jenkins VMI 13:11

19) Ian Irizarry Negron VMI 13:33

21) Carlos Fernandes VMI 13:38

25) Walt Kitson VMI 13:41

27) Justin Adams VMI 13:44

33) Jake Maziotta VMI 13:52

37) Andre Jordan VMI 14:12

38) Kellen Reeves VMI 14:12

39) Dylan Haines VMI 14:12

43) Jeremiah Gaulding VMI 14:18


Women’s 4K Results

Place Runner Affiliation Time

22) Logan Luckett VMI 16:33

23) Anna Armfield VMI 16:33

29) Sara Belamarich VMI 17:55

32) Raquel Janes VMI 19:29

33) Skylar Pierce VMI 19:35

38) Brittany Szczepanik VMI 20:28