LEXINGTON, Va. – Three out of the four fall sports at Virginia Commonwealth University began the 2009 campaign with a victory.

Make it four after the Rams' men's cross country team used an outstanding effort by the Polish duo of senior Piotr Dybas (Jaslo, Poland) and Axel Mostrag (Krasnik, Poland) to grab a victory at the VMI Relays on Friday evening.

"It's a great way to start the year," Head Coach Julian Spooner said. "This is a different type of race, so it's good for our guys to get a different type of workout and we were able to fight off a pretty good VMI squad."

The race is set-up as a two-part relay with teams made up of two runners with each runner completing a two-mile lap before tagging their partner in the "exchange zone." Each runner completed two laps for a total of eight miles as a group.

Dybas and Mostrag teamed up to finish with a time of 40:05, three minutes ahead of VMI duo, Andrey Dmitriev and Ermin Mujezinovic.

"Those top two guys for VMI ran really well, so it was good to see Piotr and Alex fight together and pick up the win," Spooner added.

Junior Walid Berkhedle (Toronto, Ontario) and sophomore Tyler Simmons (Manassas, Va.) grabbed the third slot with a time of 40:14, while the freshman duo of Brendan Leavitt (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Justin Kendall (Richmond, Va.) clocked in at 42:14, good for sixth place.

Berkhedle was the top individual performer with a combined time of 19:33 over his four miles of work, with Dybas finishing just behind his fellow Ram at 19:40.

"I'm very pleased with the way we ran today and it shows that we have a group of guys that will push each other all year long," Spooner stated.

The Rams are back in action next Friday, competing at the Hampton Invitational.


1) VCU                 10
2) VMI                 11
3) Longwood        38