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Lancer Pink Invitational raises more than $2,000

Grace Puleo won the women’s 5K, Ethan Pettyjohn won the men’s 8K, and countless others will win personal battles against breast cancer because of the more than $2,000 raised for the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation at the Lancer Pink Invitational Friday at the Longwood Cross-Country Course.

In Longwood’s first home cross-country meet since 2014, the Lancer men and women nearly pulled off a top-five sweep in both races, with the junior Puleo and freshmen Rachel Simmons and Kiersten Witte finishing first, third and fourth in the women’s 5K and the freshman trio of Pettyjohn, Benjamin Goulet and Saad Khan placing first, third and fourth in the men’s 8K.​

Years in the making, the race took place on the rolling hills of Longwood’s home course in Farmville. The first home meet for second-year head coach Brooke Craig, sent both the men’s and women’s cohorts on a looping course in front of nearly 100 spectators.

Pettyjohn and Puleo dominated both races, with Puleo finishing nearly a full minute faster than second-place finisher Andrea Loos from Regent and clocking a mile pace of 6:35.9 to finish at 20:31.2. Meanwhile, Pettyjohn built a sizable cushion of his own, running a 28:09.5 and a 5:39.9 pace to beat second-place finisher Jay Thompson of Regent by 16.5 seconds.

“I knew we had a chance to win both races, and I’m really proud of the work the team put in,” Craig said. “That’s not just the work they put in to get physically ready but the work they did putting the course together for our race.”

The Longwood women took five of the top seven spots, with Kathryn Oylear and Aislinn Garcia finishing sixth and seventh. The men were also frontrunners, taking 10 of the top 15 spots with Sam Sager, Alec Daniel and Shahmique Cromwell all earning top-10 results.

But as strong as those individual showings were, both programs turned in an equally impactful performance by raising more than $2,000 for the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation. Those proceeds came from donations and registrations for the post-race “Lancer Pink Mile” fun run, which drew more than 30 runners and walkers for an abridged trip around the course.

“We set a goal of trying to raise more than $2,000, and right in the midst of midterms at that,” said Craig, who noted the team pursued the fundraiser to honor breast cancer fighters and survivors, including Longwood Athletics Director Michelle Meadows.

“We really had three weeks to raise the money, and they did it.”