MELBOURNE, Fla. – On Saturday, the Florida Gulf Coast University cross country teams competed in the Florida Tech Invitational. The men’s team finished in second place, the highest ever finish for the Eagles in their brief history. FGCU’s women’s team had its’ best finish since the season opener last year at the Saint Leo University. Freshman runner Abbie Zaspel, who finished 5th overall, led the Eagles to third place.
In Saturday’s race, junior Mike Harney finished fifth, breaking the Eagles’ All-Time 8K record with a time of 27:19.37. Harney, who was the previous record holder, eclipsed his own personal best time by seven seconds. Kyle Brunette finished seventh with a mark of 27.49.96 while Scott Poindexter was 16th with a time of 28.31.63. Brunette's time is good for third on the All-Time 8K list. He also set an Eagles' freshman record with his top ten time. Ismael Galicia and Hugo Gijon finished 18th and 19th with times of 28.35.96 and 29.11.60 respectively.
Embry Riddle won the event with 27 points while FGCU and Nova Southeastern each ended the day with 59 points. The Eagles were awarded second place because the tie-breaker is based on each team’s sixth runner. Freshman Dustin Kapper edged out Nova’s Christian Moore by just over 13 seconds to give the Eagles the second spot. Host Florida Tech claimed fourth place with 90 points, while Johnson and Wales did not enter enough runners to earn a team score.
The competition on the women’s side was a little tighter. Embry Riddle once again took home the title with 54 points. They narrowly defeated Nova Southeastern who took second with 61 points. FGCU rounded out the top three as they recorded 67 points behind great finishes by Zaspel, junior Cadie Sly and freshman Casey Hasten. Zaspel's fifth place finish this weekend sets an FGCU freshman record. The Eagles Hasten and Sly also recorded top-10 finishes with times of 20.42.53 and 20.53.14 respectively. Hasten finished the meet in seventh place while Sly placed 10th. Senior Katie Steffan and sophomore Marie Scarpantonio were the other Eagle runners to score at the meet. Steffan ran a 22.12.35 5K to finish 23rd in the meet while Scarpantonio's 22.58.13 was good enough to finish 28th.
Coach Highfield said, “I am very impressed with the outcome of both teams. I told the kids before the race that everybody counts, 1-17 on both teams. It showed to be true that specifically Kapper and Scarpantonio stepped up and provided our team with a big time boost. It feels really good to bring home some hardware. Without Kapper’s effort we wouldn’t have been able to take second place. Scarpantonio stepped up for the second straight week with huge races that allowed our teams to be so successful. I really appreciate the efforts of every one of our student-athletes.”
FGCU will return to action next weekend for their third straight meet in as many weeks when they travel to Gainesville, Fla., to compete in the Gator Invitational.