The Florida Gulf Coast University cross country teams will look to continue their early-season successes when they travel to Gainesville, Fla. this weekend to compete in the 2006 Gator Invitational. The Eagles are coming off one of the most successful meets in school history. In last week's Florida Tech Invitational, the FGCU men finished in second place while the women followed in third.
Junior runner Mike Harney (North Fort Myers, Fla.) broke the Eagles All-Time 8K record with a time of 27:19.37. Harney broke his previous record that was set last year in the flrunners.com Invitational, by just over seven seconds. Freshman standout runner Kyle Brunette (Venice, Fla.) had an impressive seventh place finish with a time of 27:50 that is good for third on the Eagles' All-Time 8K list.
The women edged out some stiff competition in last weekend's meet for their best finish since last year's season opener. Freshman Abbie Zaspel's (Burlington, Wisconsin) fifth place finish set an FGCU freshman record. In addition, freshman Casey Hasten (Fort Myers, Fla.) and junior Cadie Sly (Loxahatchee, Fla.) also finished in the top ten. Senior runner Katie Steffan (Naples, Fla.) also came in among the top 25 runners in the event.
This weekend's meet will feature a majority of Division I squads as well as D-II participants. With FGCU preparing to make the jump to Division I next season, this event will be a good judge as to where the Eagles stand amongst some D-I powerhouses and future Atlantic Sun Conference rivals in Jacksonville, North Florida, and Stetson.
Last year at the Gator Invitational, host team Florida took both the men's and women's events. Sunshine State Conference foe and No. 18, Florida Southern (United States Cross Country Coaches Association Coaches Poll), placed fourth in last year's event on the men's side. Auburn University's Brian Jaeger holds the overall course record at the UF Golf Course with a time of 23:34.0.
Coach Highfield said, "We are excited about this weekend's event, it is a deep field featuring many high quality athletes. This will be a great challenge for both of our squads. Both teams have had a great week of practice and we hope to continue to build on our success from last weekend's invitational."