BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Florida Atlantic University men’s and women’s cross country runners will hit the course for the first time in three weeks, resuming their 2017 campaign at the Mountain Dew Gator Cross Country Invitational, hosted by the University of Florida in Gainesville on Saturday morning.
Like other FAU squads in the midst of their in-season competition schedule, cross country too was affected by Hurricane Irma. After hosting the season-opening meet on Sept. 1, both teams were scheduled to compete at the UM Invitational in Miami the following Friday, Sept. 8, but that meet was canceled. This weekend marks the first competition since the opener for the program, and Head Coach Alex Smolka is excited to see his squad back in action.
“After starting the season very well at the home meet, we're extremely anxious to get back on the start line after Hurricane Irma threw us a detour,” he said. “We have had some excellent workouts, and are looking forward to see how we match up against the rest of all the teams in Florida and the South Region.”
The entirety of each side, all eligible Owl men (http://www.fausports.com/sports/m-xc/mtt/fau-m-xc-mtt.html) and women (runners with ‘XC’ marked under ‘Event’ on http://www.fausports.com/sports/c-xctrack/mtt/fau-c-xctrack-mtt.html), will compete Saturday. The men will race an 8000 meter course, beginning at 7:55 a.m., and the women will follow at 8:30 for a 5000 meter race. All told, 27 programs will be represented on the men’s side, and 33 women’s squads will take part, with live results available at http://halfmiletiming.com/event/uf-mountain-dew-invitational/.
At last year’s iteration of this event, both teams finished sixth in the Division I standings. Jonathan Werble was the top men’s finisher, in 32nd place, while of the women’s returnees, three finished in the upper third of 121 runners competing: Christina Schultz (32nd), Liz Wellman (34th) and Bethany Hardcastle (36th).
Following Saturday, the men and women will race again next week, in Lakeland, Florida at the FLRunners.com Invitational on Sept. 29.