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Cross Country Travels East to ERAU
Courtesy: Stetson University  
Release:  09/26/2010
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(L-R) Kate Matthews, Kelsey Munson and Katrina McKay at the Asics...
by: Ralphoto
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By: Ralph Epifanio

Trading off a shorter than usual trip (to Daytona) with a particularly early starting time (7:20 for men, and 8:00 for women), the Stetson Cross Country Team traveled to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University for what has become a regular sign of Autumn for them: The ASICS Classic.

In any given year the Embry Riddle course is arguably one of the, if not the, most difficult courses in the state. With constantly changing (and challenging!) footing, it is impossible to settle into anything that remotely resembles a running rhythm. This year, unfortunately due to construction, the course had to be modified into a three loop for men (8K, or 4.98 miles) / two  loop for women (5K, or 3.1 miles) configuration that "ate up" well over a minute of the runners' hard-earned training progress.

Undeterred by the course's hills, sand, and sinuous course,Maria Harper was Stetson's top performer.  Finishing ninth overall, and eighth in team scoring, her 20:39.15 was faster than that of 45 other college and post- college runners in the field.

"I ran it last year, and it was difficult. Basically, in the past, there was a very steep hill, and then the course went into the woods on a sandy, winding trail with some uneven terrain.  That's what made it so difficult. (Before the race) I saw a map of the course and thought it would be flat, and a lot easier.  But it didn't turn out that way."

With so much construction being done on their athletic fields, race organizers were forced to run more miles on asphalt surfaces than they might have liked. The question was: could this still be considered "cross country?"

"It definitely was cross country by definition," she concluded. "It covered every terrain possible.  It went from hills and sand-which put a strain on your legs-to the down hills, where your legs went out from under you. Then you hit the flat, where you had to speed up. So it was difficult to switch gears.

"We only did two loops, so it wasn't too bad.  Generally, I don't like loops, but because it was such a varied course it allowed me to run the second loop smarter."

Sprinter-turned-distance runner Shannon Harrell turned in another fine performance (22nd in 23:26.48).  Newcomer Alyssa Thompson (two places back in 23:48), Stephanie Bird (26th in 23:51.45), and Kate Matthews (30th in 24:48.71) rounded out the top-five scoring for the women. Stetson finished fifth among the six teams.

For the men, the tandem team of Andrew Epifanio (24th in 29:47.96) and Kyle Burton (26th in 29:59.27) led the Hatters. Kyle, especially, ran an outstanding race, staying in almost constant contact with his daily training partner, and-being the more experienced runner-- helping Andrew maintain his focus on what is probably the latter's least favorite course. (Epifanio ran the 5K  version of this race more than once while a member of his Deland High School cross country team.)

Kyle described the course from his perspective: "From the standpoint of changing the course, I didn't mind the loops, but didn't like the sand hill. I don't think I've ever been that close to walking in a race.

"There was also a different turn (than last year) coming out of the baseball field that was interesting, especially in the first loop.  (At that time) you didn't know it was going to be a u-turn and it almost made you stop."

Kyle, busy as he was navigating the course, was still not too busy to notice, and later compliment the performances of two of his team mates.

"Both Peter Davis and Deryck Greene ran really well.  Placement (in respect to other runners) was a major thing, and Peter moved up a place on the team.  Both had a pretty good day."

In addition, Deryck-and also Alex Kempinski--actually ran faster at Embry Riddle than at the UF (Bostick Golf) course, a faster course by far.

Peter Davis (41st in 32:18.94; third team finisher) is steadily closing the gap between himself and the team leaders, a gap that may shrink further in the coming weeks, as two of the fastest courses on the schedule-FLIX and the Hatter Invitational-approach. Brian Dughi (44th in 33:08.83) and Ryan Becker (47th in 33:39.15) were the fourth and fifth Stetson finishers, so they placed for the team as scorers. Stetson was fifth of eight teams.

This will be a short training week for these runners.  Next Friday, October 1st, is the invitational at Titusville, perhaps the fastest course on the schedule. Both men and women compete at the same 5K distance.

PL/MEN                                                        TIME             PL/WOMEN                         TIME

24) Andrew Epifanio                                      29:47               9) Maria Harper                       20:39

26) Kyle Burton                                              29:59               22) Shannon Harrell                23:26

41) Peter Davis                                               32:18               24) Alyssa Thompson             23:48

44) Brian Dughi                                              33:08               26) Stephanie Bird                  23:51

47) Ryan Becker                                             33:39               30) Kate Matthews                 24:48

54) Alexander Kempeski                                34:51               34) Katrina McKay                 25:33

57) Deryck Greene                                          35:06               40) Kelsey Munson                 26:19

61) Josh Morton                                              36:18               44) Olena Vlasyuk                  27:46

71) Kyle Bass                                                  40:58               47) Gisela Fernandez              28:39

Stetson Cross Country