Shank Named SoCon Freshman of the Year, Sisk Voted to All-Freshman Team

Jillian Sisk ’27 running cross country

Jillian Sisk ’27 was voted to the SoCon All-Freshman team after leading the women’s cross country with a 24th-place finish overall in 18:14.8.—Photo courtesy VMI Athletics.

VMI men’s and women’s cross country teams showed well at the 2023 Southern Conference Cross County Championship held at the Ivey M. Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville, North Carolina, Oct. 27, 2023. In their first season with Keydet cross country, Kevin Shank ’27 was named the league’s Freshman of the Year, and Jillian Sisk ’27 was voted to the SoCon All-Freshman team.

“We had some great individual performances with our whole team and athletic director, Jim Miller, in attendance,” said Zack Scott ’89, VMI director of cross country/track and field, regarding the Keydets’ performance. “Jillian Sisk and Kevin Shank did a great job leading our teams today. We are still trying to fill gaps, but our teams competed with great individual effort.”

Men’s Cross Country

After a stellar performance at the SoCon Championship, Shank was named the league’s Freshman of the Year for his finish in the race.

Shank, a native of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, earned Second Team All-SoCon honors by placing 11th overall with an 8K time of 25:18.6 to pace the team in the race. The mark is the best finish for a VMI men’s runner since Gavin Jenkins ’22 placed eighth in 25:48.70 to earn Second Team All-SoCon recognition at the 2021 SoCon Championship hosted by VMI. Shank has been the top VMI finisher in every race this season as a young leader.

The VMI men finished eighth overall with 184 points. Furman University won the team title with 22 points and was followed by East Tennessee State University in second place with 47 points. Both the VMI men’s and women’s teams defeated The Citadel in the team standings.

Patrick Lowry ’27 came in second for VMI with a 32nd-place finish of 26:21.8, and Benjamin Hagerich ’26 arrived in third for VMI and 37th place overall in 26:28.7. Also scoring team points for VMI were Andrew Hirneisen ’24 in 53rd with a time of 27:21.9 and Brian Tavenner ’25 in 62nd with a time of 27:48.1.

Stephen Kelley ’24 ran a good race by placing 66th overall in 28:07, and Michael Jorgensen ’27 finished 68th in 28:15.0. Trent Whittaker ’23 ran his final career cross country race with a time of 28:19, and John Gibson ’26 arrived shortly after in 28:39.

Team Finishes

  1. Furman 22
  2. ETSU 47
  3. Mercer 112
  4. Chattanooga 133
  5. Samford 145
  6. Western Carolina 166
  7. UNCG 168
  8. VMI 184
  9. The Citadel 237
  10. Wofford 307

VMI Men’s Runners

11th – Kevin Shank – 25:18.6
32nd – Patrick Lowry – 26:21.8
37th – Benjamin Hagerich – 26:28.7
53rd – Andrew Hirneisen – 27:21.9
62nd – Brian Tavenner – 27:48.1
66th – Stephen Kelley – 28:07.9
68th – Michael Jorgensen – 28:15.0
71st – Trent Whittaker – 28:19.7
76th – John Gibson – 28:39.3

2023 Southern Conference Men’s Cross Country

Runner of the Year
Dylan Schubert, Furman

Freshman of the Year
Kevin Shank, VMI

Coach of the Year
Robert Gary, Furman and George Watts, ETSU

Pinnacle Award
Luke Taylor, Furman

All-SoCon First Team
Dylan Schubert, Furman
Jason Bowers, ETSU
Cameron Ponder, Furman
Carson Williams, Furman
Evan Guzman, ETSU
Nicholas Goldstein, Furman
Myles Stoots, ETSU

Kevin Shank ’27 running cross country

Kevin Shank ’27 was named the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year for his finish in the race, earning Second Team All-SoCon honors by placing 11th overall with an 8K time of 25:18.6.—Photo courtesy VMI Athletics.

All-SoCon Second Team
Luke Taylor, Furman
Ethan Long, UNCG
Matthew Smith, Furman
Kevin Shank, VMI
David Ahlmeyer, Furman
Aaron Isbell, Chattanooga
Jackson Martin, Chattanooga

All-Freshman Team
Luke Taylor, Furman
Kevin Shank, VMI
Jackson Martin, Chattanooga
Andrew McGinnis, Chattanooga
Braden Seymour, Furman
Chance Underwood, ETSU
Luke Young, ETSU

Women’s Cross Country

The women’s team finished ninth overall with 238 points. Furman won its 12th consecutive SoCon title with 20 points.

The VMI women were led by Sisk, who finished in 24th place overall in 18:14.8. With the strong finish, she was voted to the SoCon All-Freshman team by the league’s coaches after the race.

Sisk was followed by Gretal Shank ’25 as the second VMI finisher in 41st place with a time of 19:08.4. Olivia Hurd ’27 placed 61st overall in 20:24.6, and Nathalie Lavender ’26 arrived in 71st place in 20:49.1. Caroline Fiorillo ’25 also scored team points for VMI by placing as the fifth VMI runner in 74th place in 21:24.2.

Evelyn Anderson ’27 and Hayden Talbott ’27 also competed for VMI, finishing in 76th and 77th place, respectively.

Team Finishes

  1. Furman – 20
  2. Samford – 71
  3. Chattanooga – 75
  4. Mercer – 104
  5. ETSU – 122
  6. UNCG – 185
  7. Wofford – 227
  8. Western Carolina – 230
  9. VMI – 238
  10. The Citadel – 309

VMI Women’s Runners

Jillian Sisk – 24th – 18:14.8
Gretal Shank – 41st – 19:08.4
Olivia Hurd – 61st – 20:24.6
Nathalie Lavender – 71st – 20:49.1
Caroline Fiorillo – 74th – 21:24.2
Evelyn Anderson – 76th – 22:00.9
Hayden Talbott – 77th – 22:39.6

2023 Southern Conference Women’s Cross Country

Runner of the Year
Abigail Robertson, Furman

Freshman of the Year
Adeline Haisch, Samford

Coach of the Year
Robert Gary, Furman

Pinnacle Award
Jenna Mulhern, Furman

All-SoCon First Team
Abigail Robertson, Furman
Carly Wilkes, Furman
Lesley Green, Chattanooga
Kaylie Armitage, Furman
Kamila Soja, Mercer
Jenna Mulhern, Furman
Sierra Bower, Furman

All-SoCon Second Team
Nicole Matsik, Furman
Emma Jones, Furman
Madelynne Cadeau, Furman
Kiera Snyder, ETSU
Adeline Haisch, Samford
Megan Marvin, Furman
Maddie Wheatcroft, Chattanooga

All-Freshman Team
Adeline Haisch, Samford
Jillian Sisk, VMI
Bella Edwards, Samford
Anna Adams, Samford
Lola Baker, Chattanooga
Becca Hinds, Wofford
Grace Lane, Western Carolina

Editor’s Note: These articles were first published on