Cross Country to kick off their season at FGCU

By: Malcolm Shields / Staff Writer

The Golden Panthers men’s and women’s cross country teams begin their season on Sept. 2 in Fort Myers as they will participate in the Florida Gulf Coast University Invitational. It will be the Golden Panthers first time participating in the invitational.

The Golden Panthers will square off against the host Florida Gulf Coast, the University of Miami and their Sun Belt Conference rival Florida Atlantic University. Instead of running the traditional eight kilometer race, which measures out to almost five miles, the men will run only four miles. The women will race their normal five kilometer race.

RUNNERS TO WATCH FOR

The Golden Panthers men’s team will be led by seniors Sebastian Castillo, Ciprian Mejia and sophomore Joshua Estrada. Both Castillo and Mejia ran at a similar distance to the upcoming invitational last season.

At the King of the Hill Invitational, Castillo finished the 5K run with a first place time of 16:24. Mejia followed with a time of 17:46.

The Golden Panthers will rely on their top three runners to give them the best chance to win. “We have been the top three as far as order goes. We ran pretty consistently throughout the past couple of seasons,” Mejia said. “So we are expecting to have breakout years and do really well.”

On the women’s team, junior Daniela Espino, Krystelle Francis, Tai Canady, Sahara Assi, and Samia Adan look to anchor the Golden Panthers in the 5K run.

All five runners had season best times within the 19 minute range last season. Espino led the Golden Panthers last season with a time of 18:53.14 in the 5K. Canady followed with a time of 19:11.74.

SCOUTING THE FIELD

Florida Gulf Coast enters the 2011 season with their core runners returning for competition. Argeo Cruz and Barrie Cohen lead the men’s and women’s teams respectively for the Eagles. Cruz broke many program records for the Eagles and was named to the Atlantic Sun All- Freshmen team. Cohen ran a school record 18:13.62 at the conference championship last season.

The University of Miami had seven runners who competed in the NCAA South Regional Championship last season who are returning. On the men’s side, Greg Kaczka, Phil Wood, Michael Coogan and Luke Fontaine return for the Hurricanes from the regional team.

For the women, Brooke Dovell, Lindsi Arrington and Anna Bona lead the Hurricane women in 2011. Florida Atlantic returns their core group of runners on both the men’s and women’s teams for long time head coach for the Owls, Alex Smolka.

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