FORT MYERS, Fla. – Representing the Green and Blue for the first time at the Division I NCAA South Regional, FGCU men’s cross country runners sophomore Argeo Cruz (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee HS) and redshirt classmate Gilbert Chemaoi (Eldoret, Kenya/Kirobon HS/Eastern Kentucky), and women’s runners junior Barrie Cohen (Voorhees, N.J./ Eastern Regional HS) and sophomore Kelly Perzanowski (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville HS) will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Saturday. Hosted by Alabama, the men’s 10K event will get underway at 10 a.m. with the women’s 6K to follow at 11:15 a.m. from the Harry Pritchett Cross Country course.
“We are really excited for the opportunity for these four athletes to be able to compete at the regional level,” said fourth-year head coach Cassandra Harbin. “It’s exciting for the program to be able to run for the first time in its Division I history and I hope they take advantage of the high level of competition. All four of them understand that it’s an honor to be able to compete at the event, and everyone is really looking forward to it.”
Named one of three unanimous selections to the A-Sun Academic All-Conference team on Thursday, Cruz has been the top finisher for the Eagles in four of the six competitions this season, including a first place finish at the season-opening FGCU Invitational. Placing 25th overall at the Atlantic Sun Conference championship, Cruz helped the Eagles to a pair of top three finishes this season, leading the squad to a first place finish at the season-opening FGCU Invite. Taking seventh overall in the field of 214 runners, Cruz picked up the program’s first-ever A-Sun Runner of the Week for his effort at the Disney World Cross Country Classic. The Immokalee, Fla. product also holds six of the program’s top 10 all-time 8K times, including the top three times on the list.
Chemaoi took 26th overall at the A-Sun Championship, and has helped the Eagles to three top three finishes. While adding a second place finish at the FGCU Invite, Chemaoi has been the top finisher in two events this season, including the Commodore Classic (22nd) and the UCF Invite (10th). Chemaoi holds two of FGCU’s top 10 all-time 8K times, landing as high as fourth on the list.
Saturday will mark the first time that Cruz and Chemaoi will compete for the Green and Blue at a 10K event. The Eagles last competed in a 10K race during the 2006 season at the NCAA Division II South Regional.
Running to a 24th place finish at the A-Sun Championship, Cohen has been the Eagles top runner in all six events this season. Taking fourth place overall, Cohen helped the Eagles to a second place finish in the season-opening FGCU Invite. Running to a seventh place finish at the Disney World Classic, Cohen earned FGCU’s first-ever A-Sun Runner of the Week Award. Additionally, Cohen owns six of FGCU’s top 10 all-time 5K list, including the top overall time.
Perzanowski has also been strong for the Eagles this season, finishing one-two with Cohen in five of the six fall competitions. Also helping the Green and Blue to three top 5 finishes, Perzanowski’s best finish of the year came at the FGCU Invite where she took fifth place overall. The St. Clairsville, Ohio product has also supplied two top 20 finishes this year, including a 10th place finish in the field of 269 runners at the Walt Disney World Classic, crossing the line with her best 5K time of the season, 19:00.20.
The regional event will mark the second time this season that the Eagles have competed in a 6K event. The Green and Blue ran to a fourth place finish in the field of 16 teams at the UCF Invitational, where Cohen and Perzanowski ran to 5th and 20th place finishes, respectively, with corresponding times of 22:43.87 and 23:55.26. Cohen’s time at the event established a new program record for a 6K race.
The top two teams from each of the nine NCAA Regional locations receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship in Terre Haute, Ind. on Nov. 21. Following the automatic qualifiers, the next best 10 teams are added at-large to round out the field. The top four finishers not on a qualifying team also advance as individuals to the NCAA Championship. Results and recaps from Saturday’s NCAA South Regional will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com following the event.