FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU cross country teams will close the 2011 season with a trip to Nashville, Tenn. on Saturday to compete at the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship, hosted by Belmont. The men’s 8K race will begin at 11 a.m. ET followed by the women’s 5K event at 11:45 a.m. on the Vaughn’s Gap course.
The Saturday races will mark the fifth time which FGCU has ran at the A-Sun championship. With their best finish coming in 2008 season when they took seventh among the 11 teams, the men’s team placed eighth last season. The women’s program ran to their best finish last year, as they took sixth out of the 11 teams. Following Campbell’s departure from the league, this year’s event will feature a 10-team field.
At last season’s A-Sun championship in Spartanburg, S.C., then-freshman men’s runner Argeo Cruz (Immokalee, Fla. Immokalee HS) finished just outside of the All-Conference honors placing 17th overall with a time of 25:37.81. On the women’s side, then-sophomore Barrie Cohen (Voorhees, N.J. Eastern Regional HS) finished in 15th place with a time of 18:13.62, just ahead of then-freshman Kelly Perzanowski’s (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville HS) 18:16.72, which was good for 16th. The top 14 runners receive A-Sun All-Conference honors, with the top seven earning first team and the next seven receiving second team nods.
FGCU was able to preview the Vaughn’s Gap course earlier this season, when they competed at the Commodore Classic hosted by Vanderbilt. Led by redshirt sophomore Gilbert Chemaoi (Eldoret, Kenya/Eastern Kentucky) and classmate Cruz who both placed in the top 25, the men’s team took 10th out of the 22 teams. In the women’s event the Eagles took ninth of 23 schools, as junior Cohen placed 36th among the 194 runners.
The men’s team has ran to top 3 finishes in three of the five events this season, highlighted by a first place finish at the season-opening FGCU Invitational (Sept. 2). Cruz and Chemaoi have been the top finishers for the Eagles in all five events this season, with Cruz topping the Eagles’ results in three races. Cruz earned the Eagles’ first-ever A-Sun Runner of the Week award following his seventh place finish in the field of 214 runners at the Walt Disney World Cross Country Classic (Oct. 8).
FGCU has finished in the top five in three of the five women’s events this season, highlighted by a second place finish at the season-opening FGCU Invitational. Cohen has led the Eagles in every event this season, led by a fourth place finish at the FGCU Invite. Cohen received the Green and Blue’s first-ever Atlantic Sun Runner of the Week following her seventh place finish in the field of 269 runners at the Walt Disney World Cross Country Classic.
In their most recent outing at the UCF Invitational (Oct. 14), the men’s team ran to a second place finish in the field of 12 teams. Chemaoi was the Eagles’ top finisher for the second time this season, this time crossing the finish line at the 26:11.59 mark for 10th place overall. The time was good for 10th on FGCU’s all-time 8K list, in addition to a top five all-time mark for a sophomore (5th).
Competing in a 6K race for the first time since the 2006 season, the women’s squad took fourth among the 16 teams at the UCF Invitational. Leading the Eagles for the fifth straight event, Cohen earned a fifth place finish with a time of 22:43.87 in the field of 128 runners, good for a new 6K program record at the event.
Results and recaps from the 2011 Atlantic Sun Conference Championship will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com following the event.