The Bucs cross country team traveled to Blacksburg, Virginia, for the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational.

“It’s our second meet of the season so I’m hoping to run a little better than the first meet,” coach George Watts said. “The thing I most look forward to this weekend is just being able to compete and to see that we are improving every meet.”

Going into the meet, the Bucs held out runners on the men’s and women’s teams. For the men, despite having runners held out, they did have runners that sat out the first meet return for this meet.

However, for the women, they went into the meet without top runners who they expected to finish top 10 had they competed.

On the Bucs men’s side, Ben Varghese (Kingsport, Tennessee) finished in second place. It was his second top-five finish to start the season. To also finish in the top five for the Bucs was Matthew Scarr (Wambersal, Australia), who finished fourth in the meet.

In total, the Bucs had five runners finish in the top 20. Overall, the men had a very solid day finishing the invitational in second place only behind Virginia Tech.

The women’s team performed really well as well having three runners finish in the top 20. Lindsey Stallsworth (Knoxville, Tennessee) finished in the top five for the Bucs placing fourth. As a whole, the women’s team finished in third behind Virginia Tech and Ohio.

“The runner on the men’s side that has improved the most from last to this year is Malick Gemechu (Johnson City, Tennessee),” Watts said.

Gemechu finished 14th in the meet for the Bucs. On the women’s team, the runner coach Watts has seen improve most from last to this season is Mia DePillo (Fort Wayne, Indianapolis). DePillo finished in 38th for the Bucs.

“We want to be able to have a 30-second gap by end of the season –– that’s what we are working toward,” Watts said.