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As fast as you can XC

UNF’s men’s and women’s cross-country teams began the 2011 campaign with split-squad meets.
The women’s team began the season strong, placing first out of 12 teams in the main event at Appalachin State in Boone, N.C. Senior Erin Nixon led the way for the Ospreys, finishing second, just ahead of junior teammate Meggie Emons. The Ospreys’ leaders finished just under 17 seconds behind individual winner Nicole Irving of Wake Forest.

“The team had a great first meet,” senior Erin Nixon said. “We had intended our first meet to be experience but after the first mile our pack was leading the race, so we went for it and came out with fantastic results.”

The men did not fare quite as well at the Covered Bridge Invitational, finishing fifth of 11 teams with 131 points. They did manage to edge out conference foe East Tennessee State, who finished sixth despite not having a runner finish in the top seven.

Mike Strasser, a senior, said he finished eigth at Boone, which was UNF’s highest finish.

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“Obviously this was the first race of the season, and it was an experience,” he said. “We handled what we needed to and took care of business.”

The average cross-country meet has differing lengths for men and women. The average for men is a 6,000, just less than five miles with an average time of 26 minutes.

Head coach Mark Van Alstyne was satisfied with both the men’s and women’s finishes.

“I was really pleased with the outcomes,” Van Alstyne said. “We need more depth in the pack, but we can work on that to get to the top by the end of the season.”

The team’s high finishes in Boone, while competing against larger schools such as Wake Forest and Florida State, compliments UNF’s conditioning — but that is only part of being a cross-country athelete, Van Alstyne said.

Strasser felt good chemistry on the track considering it was the first of the year.

“We had really good team dynamics,” said Strasser. “From our warm ups to the end of the meet, we had a good mentality and stuck together.”

While much of the team was in Boone, the team was still represented at Jacksonville University’s short-course duals meet.

“We selected who went to what meet based on work out and time trials,” Van Alstyne said.

At JU, the men placed third, fourth and fifth. The women placed 10th, 12th, 16th and 17th. Since it only ran three men and four women, the team could not constitute a team score.

“We are always looking to improve,” Van Alstyne said. “We want our peak to be at the end of the season during NCAA regional and the conference meets.”

The men’s and women’s cross-country teams’ next meet is the Seminole Invitational Sept. 23.

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