ORLANDO, Fla. - On Saturday morning, the Florida Gulf Coast University men's and women's cross country teams ran at the Walt Disney World Cross Country Classic. Both teams finished in the top half of the field as the men placed 14th out of 30 and the women came in 13th out of 36 teams. The Eagles had their best ever finish in the Walt Disney Classic. FGCU has run in this event every year since the start of the program. Head Coach Chris Highfield said, "I was impressed by both team's collective performances. This is one of races we highlighted at the beginning of our season to perform well at and I thought we did just that. Both teams stepped up, in a big-time race, and gave an unbelievable effort."
The men's team had a solid finish, defeating south region foes as well as some Division I programs including Florida Atlantic, Stetson, and Bethune-Cookman. FGCU routed in-state rival Nova Southeastern by 45 points to take the 14th place spot. Junior Mike Harney (North Fort Myers, Fla.) once again led the Eagles in the 8K event with a time of 27:00.51, which was good for 52nd place in the race and second all-time in the Eagles' record book. Freshmen Kyle Brunette (Venice, Fla.) and Dustin Kapper (Seminole, Fla.) both finished in the Top 100. Brunette shattered his own FGCU freshman 8K record by nearly 16 seconds with a time of 27:32.07. Kapper had his best run of the year with a personal best 8K time of 27:45.50. His finish ranks him sixth on the Eagles' all-time records. Ismael Galicia, a senior from Naples, Fla., crossed the finish line in 28:05.42, good for tenth all-time.
"You can always count on Harney and Brunette to run a strong consistant race. There efforts again were shown today by great performances." Highfield added. "Kapper ran a great race, he has really come on strong this second half of the season."
The Florida Gulf Coast University's women's cross country team was also successful in Saturday's event. The Eagles finished 13th behind eight Division I programs. FGCU narrowly defeated the University of South Florida by one point. For the fifth meet in a row, freshman Abbie Zaspel (Burlington, Wisconsin) led the Eagles, this time with a 65th overall finish and a time of 20:11.78. Zaspel's run this weekend places her fourth on the Eagles' all-time records. She set an FGCU program and freshman record with a 19:21.9 finish in the 2006 Gator Invitational. Junior Cadie Sly (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and freshman Casey Hasten (Fort Myers, Fla.) finished 84th and 85th while three other Eagles finished in the Top 140 out of almost 300 participants. "Sly and Hasten have been 'pack' running for several weeks now." Highfield stated. "They are working hard together to pick their competitors off and move up on the overall spots within the race. They keep each other constantly motivated and moving."
Next up for the Eagles is their regular season finally, at the Stetson Hatter Invitational in Deland, Fla. on Friday the 13th of October. The FGCU women's team will get started at 4:30 pm with the men following at 5:10 pm.