While the top seven runners from both the UNF men and women’s cross country teams will be competing at the North Dakota and South Dakota University’s trails, the remaining members of the teams will be at the Jacksonville Short Course Duals Sept. 4 at 5 p.m. at Jacksonville University.

“I’m excited about the weekend as a whole,” UNF cross country Head Coach Mark VanAlstyne said. “This is a great opportunity for all of our runners to compete.”

VanAlstyne will move into his second decade of coaching at UNF and his first eligible season for NCAA Division I postseason competition.

VanAlstyne had his best season with the men’s cross country team last year since the Ospreys inaugural season into Division I reclassification in 2009, finishing fourth in the conference championships. The women missed the 2006 title by just 14 points, as they placed fourth three out of the four seasons in the A-Sun Conference Championships.

Last season, junior Will Pearce finished 19th in the eight- mile run out of 83 runners, while representing for the women’s team, senior Hillary Adams sprinted to a 12th place finish out of 74 runners at the A-Sun Championship.

“I don’t like picking favorites or placing odds on my runners. However, Kayla Conrad is in the best shape of her life and Sianne Chong has improved from last season,” VanAlstyne said.

The women will be returning seven out of the 11 runners from the last season’s squad, and the men’s squad will have nine out of their 16 runners from last year.

“There should always be an opportunity for runners to fight for a starting spot,” VanAlstyne said. “We want to foster competition within our team and try to get the best out of our runners.”

The men’s and women’s cross country teams are preparing for the University of North Dakota and South Dakota State University’s trials Sept. 5 in Grand Forks, N.D. on top of working hard to place big in the JU Short Course Duals.