FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Florida Gulf Coast University men's and women's cross country teams will run in the Stetson Hatter Invitational later this afternoon. Today's event marks the last regular season invitational for the Eagles before they travel to Memphis, Tennessee for the NCAA Division II Regional Championships.
This is the fifth straight year that both FGCU cross country teams will run in the Stetson Hatter Invitational. The men's team had their best ever finish in Deland, Fla. last season when they finished 8th out of 12 teams. A relatively young Eagles squad, led by junior runner Mike Harney (North Fort Myers, Fla.) will look for their best finish in the Stetson Hatter Invitational as they wrap up the regular season. Harney looks to improve on his personal course best 28:46 in the 8K event.
Last week, the men's team finished in the middle of the pack in the 2006 Walt Disney World Cross Country Classic. FGCU defeated some Division I schools and routed in-state rival Nova Southeastern for their best finish at Disney since the establishment of the cross country program. Harney was the Eagles' top finisher for the fifth straight meet. Freshman Kyle Brunette (Venice, Fla.) is expected to a run a great race as he has been on Harney's heals most of this season.
The women's cross country team had its best finish in the Stetson Hatter last season when it placed 9th out of 14 teams. The Eagles hope to improve on that number behind freshman Abbie Zaspel (Burlington, Wisconsin). Zaspel has had a phenomenal freshman season, leading the Eagles in every race this season. The freshman runner set a FGCU 5K record with a time of 19:32 at the 2006 Gator Invitational in Gainesville, Fla. and had a season best fifth place finish at the Florida Tech Invitational. Junior Cadie Sly (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and freshman Casey Hasten (Fort Myers, Fla.) have also had good seasons for the Eagles. The two runners have finished within 20 seconds of each other in every race this season.
Last week, the Eagles finished in 13th place out of 36 teams in the Disney Classic. Zaspel took over the No. 4 spot on the Eagles all-time list with a time of 20:11.8 and a 65th place overall finish. FGCU narrowly defeated D-I South Florida in a very competitive race. The Eagles finished in the top half of the field and eight of the 12 teams in front of them were Division I institutions.
On November 4, both Eagles' squads will travel to Memphis, Tennessee to run in the 2006 NCAA Division II Regional Championships. This race will be a 10K event for the men and a 6K for the women. Harney is second all-time for the Eagles in the 10K with a 36:07 finish at the 2006 Pre-Nationals Invitational in Pensacola, Fla. earlier this season. On the women's side, senior Katy Steffan holds the FGCU 6K record with a 25:02 finish in the 2004 regional event. Steffan and teammate Sly are the only runners on the women's team to have ever competed in the NCAA Regional 6K race. Sly recorded her personal best in the 6K with a time of 25:43 in last season's regionals.