Panthers Cross County Teams Tackle Tough Schedules

By  //  August 16, 2012

Tough Opponents Await Florida Tech

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA –The Florida Tech men’s and women’s cross country teams have announced their 2012 schedules and the tough competition could pay dividends down the road.

United States Track & Field and Cross Country Association South Region Athlete of the Year and SSC Runner of the Year Moses Kirui returns to compete for Florida Tech's men's cross country team this season. (Image courtesy Florida Tech)

Both squads will travel to the same four regular season events before competing at the conference championships in Orlando in late October.

“Our schedule is set up to prepare us for the [South] regional championship and the national championship,” head coach Pete Mazzone said. “We have scheduled more high profile races on courses that involve more hills and against tougher competition. We are competing at the University of Florida, Florida State, and Saint Leo. All three courses have rolling hills.”

Cross country opens the fall season on Friday, Aug. 31 at the annual Tampa Early Bird Classic. The men, who finished third in the event a season ago, will run a four-mile race prior to the women’s 5K event. The women’s team finished sixth out of 14 teams in 2011.

The Crimson and Gray will travel to Gainesville on Sept. 15 to compete at the Florida Invitational hosted by the University of Florida. It is the first of two Division I events the Panthers will compete.

Saint Leo will host Florida Tech in its Saint Leo Invitational on Sept. 29 before the Panthers travel to Tallahassee for their final regular season race at the Florida State Invitational on Oct. 5.

Rollins will host this year’s Sunshine State Conference Championship at the University of Central Florida on Oct. 20. Both the men’s and women’s teams placed third at the conference championships in 2011.

The NCAA Division II South Region Championship will be held in Huntsville, Alabama on Nov. 3, while the NCAA Division II National Championship concludes the season on Nov. 17 in Joplin, Mo.

Senior Stephanie Fonseca is expected to be one of the top runners for Florida Tech's women's cross country team this fall. (Image courtesy Florida Tech)

Mazzone returns 15 of 24 runners from the 2011 season, including United States Track & Field and Cross Country Association South Region Athlete of the Year and SSC Runner of the Year Moses Kirui. The men’s squad returns 10 of the 15 returnees.

“The men’s team returns a veteran squad,” Mazzone said. “The defending regional champion and NCAA qualifier Moses [Kirui], Dave [David] Boiywo and Chris Cacciapaglia who were both all-region runners and two other seniors, Daniel Evans and Ross Russell, all return.”

Also returning in 2012 are freshmen standouts Justin McMaster and Ezekiel Zauner. McMaster was named SSC Freshman of the Year, while Boiywo and Kirui both earned All-SSC Men’s Team honors in 2011.

The women’s squad lost their only national qualifier from a year ago in Nicole Clarke, but they return five of eight runners from 2011. Senior Stephanie Fonseca finished 12th at the South Region Championship in 2011 and will be the center piece in 2012.

“The women’s team is not as experienced as the men’s but there is talent,” Mazzone assured. “We are expecting great things from Stephanie [Fonseca] who finished in the top 25 at the South Region Championship last season. By the end of the season I expect the [women’s] squad to become very strong in competition.”

Florida Tech Men’s Cross Country Schedule:

Florida Tech Women’s Cross Country Schedule: