Florida Tech Finishes Eighth At NCAA South Region Championship

By  //  November 9, 2015

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Up against the region’s best teams, Florida Tech’s men’s and women’s cross country teams both placed eighth at the NCAA Division II South Region Championship hosted by Saint Leo on Saturday at The Abbey Golf Course. (FIT Image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Up against the region’s best teams, Florida Tech’s men’s and women’s cross country teams both placed eighth at the NCAA Division II South Region Championship hosted by Saint Leo on Saturday at The Abbey Golf Course.

The field of 16 men’s teams and 18 women’s teams battled heat despite the women’s 6K starting at 8:30 a.m. and the men’s 10K going off at 9:45 a.m.

Kerstin Axelsson wrapped up her freshman season by coming in 21st at 23:35.68. By finishing among the top 25, she earned United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-South Region.

Fellow freshmen Tucker Melles (21st, 34:19.19) and Lukas Hassler (25th, 34:28.61) reeled in all-region honors to represent the Panther men.

Pete Mazzone

Pete Mazzone

“I thought both teams raced well,” head coach Pete Mazzone said.

“We came in ranked ninth and both teams ended up eighth, which was a big improvement from last year. A lot of young people, including our freshmen, stepped up and did well in that kind of race. Really our men’s team improved each week and so did our women. Tough course, really hot, but it’s that way for everyone.”

“I think we have a pretty good future ahead of us if we continue along the same path in regards to training and doing what we’re supposed to do,” said Mazzone

Following Axelsson in the women’s race from Florida Tech was Emily Iseley, who finished 37th out of 109 runners at 24:17.79.

Astrid Bodin crossed the finish line 12 seconds behind Iseley for 47th place. Ellyn Willse beat out Florida Southern’s Kassidy Watkins for 59th at 25:12.25. Casey Orlando timed in at 25:32.68 for 68th place. Gabby Trimlett placed 77th and Taylor Barnett nabbed 79th to round out the women’s lineup.

Tampa accumulated 51 points to win the women’s regional over runner-up Saint Leo. Union from Tennessee was third at 95 points.

Sunshine State Conference Runner of the Year Colett Rampf from Saint Leo won the race by over 20 seconds at 21:41.66. Vicky Winslow from Alabama-Huntsville was second at 22:02.37. Nova Southeastern’s Anabel Knoll was third at 22:11.19.

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On the men’s side, Daniel Penaranda and Matthew Pogorelec finished back-to-back at 51st and 52nd, respectively. Penaranda beat his teammate to the finish line by just over eight seconds. Matt Kraska was the final Panther to finish, placing 67th out of 93 competitors.

Saint Leo won the men’s regional championship by eight points over Lee from Tennessee. Nova Southeastern beat out Alabama-Huntsville for third place by just one point. Alfred Chelanga from Shorter claimed the individual first place trophy by more than 11 seconds at 32:00.98. Victor Onyaga was second at 32:12.17 and Dessie Demlew from Benedict was third at 32:23.39.

Although the cross country season is now over for FIT, Mazzone said the Panthers are excited for 2016.

“It’s the first year out of the last four years, where we haven’t had a runner or a team advance to nationals,” he said.

“I think both teams are better than the last couple of years. We need continue to train and get a little better on each side. Our team chemistry is very good. I think they’re anxious and anticipating what’s ahead in the spring and in the fall for next year.”


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