Men’s and women’s team finish 7th at USF Invitational

By: Malcolm Shields / Staff Writer

The level of competition went up on Sept. 9 as the Golden Panthers’ men’s and women’s cross country teams participated in the University of South Florida Invitational in Tampa.

With a score of 177 points, the men’s team finished in seventh place in the eight kilometer run. The Golden Panthers’ women’s team also finished in seventh place in the five kilometer run with 182 points.

The University of Florida (39 points), University of Miami (62 points) and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (85 points) rounded out the top three finishers in the men’s eight kilometer race.

“The guys ran good. The front ran particularly well,” Coach Drew Charles said. “The backend was okay. We were missing guys so we kind of struggled as a team a little bit.”

Freshman Dylan Cook paced the Golden Panthers in the men’s eight kilometer race with a time of 26:11.60, which is good for a ninth place individual finish. The result was his first top ten finish of his collegiate career.

“He transitions really well in his first 8K. It seemed not to bother him too much. He looked really good throughout the race. He got out good, moved well in the middle and finished pretty strong,” Charles said. “I was happy with his performance. It was higher than I expected.”

Joshua Estrada also finished in the top 15 as he ran a time of 26:17.31, which secured a 12th place finish for the Golden Panthers. “He moved well throughout the race. He closed a lot better at the end,” Coach Charles said of Estrada’s race. “He looked a lot stronger [at the end].”

The University of South Florida (42 points), Florida Atlantic University (99 points) and the University of Tampa (102 points) were the top three finishing teams in the women’s five kilometer run. Due to the weather, the women’s run was delayed by 45 minutes.

“I was pretty happy with the women’s team. They did a lot better than the week before. The back end girls ran a lot faster and they ran together a lot more,” Charles said. “They were a lot closer as a group than a week before, so I was pretty happy about that.”

Daniela Espino ran another race under 19 minutes, a personal season best with a time of 18:16.09. Her efforts captured a ninth place individual finish in the women’s five kilometer run. “She ran a good race,” said Coach Charles. “She got out well and finished well.”

Although the women were delayed due to the weather, Coach Charles praised Espino for her focus in running a strong race. “With all of the back and forth, whether or not they were going to do the race because of the rain and lightning, she was still able to put all that aside and regain her focus and get back into the race.”

Samia Adan also put in another solid performance as she ran a time of 19:77.44, which secured a top 30 finish. Her result was a 30 second improvement over her previous season best time.

The Golden Panthers will not compete again until Sept. 24 when they will travel to Gainesville to participate in the Mountain Dew Invitational. The meet will feature cross country teams from all around Florida.

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