The University of Tampa men’s and women’s cross country team started the season on the right foot by picking up victories at the Early Bird Classic, hosted by UT, on Friday.
The men’s team won the Classic for the first time, with strong performances spread across the board.Winning the four and a quarter mile race for the men was Tony Nicolosi with a time of 22:22.
With the senior standout leading the way, there was still more room for a fellow teammate to finish in the top-ten. Charles Toledo, a sophomore and Tampa native, finished in eighth place giving the Spartans two top 10 finishes.
Bryan Garcia and Kevin Lane finished in 12th and 13th place while senior Greg Moore was 16th to wrap up the prominent Spartans.
Other participants for the men’s team were Lewis Price (18), Tory Webb (20), Michael Zwijacz (30), Jeremy Lautzenheiser (31), Zach Stackhouse (32), Mike Leone (33), Ben Hilton (34), Kevin Harley (45), Jacob Bailey (55), Sage Jacobs (58), Kyle Taylor (63) and Jesse Appelbaum (68).
As the Spartan men enjoyed their first ever Early Bird Classic victory, the women’s team shined and sprinted to their third consecutive Classic win.
Senior Heather Nicolosi finished the best among the Spartan women, finishing in third place with a time of 18:38.
Adding to their success was Lindsey Edwards, Kaia Hampton, and Katie O’Brien who finished in fifth, seventh and eighth respectively.
With strong performances by the Spartan Cross Country team on Friday, expectations for the 2010 season stay the same for Coach Slaven.
Coach Slaven expects the team to do well in the upcoming races for a shot at the conference championship that will hopefully power the team to the National Championships in Louisville, Ky. starting Dec. 3.
With five women lost to graduation for the Spartans, eight new freshmen enter the team. Coach Slaven believes these runners will help the team immediately and have a big impact.
Both the men and women have already spent time preparing for the season. The team gets aggressive three times a week, including interval workouts, along with extended mile runs on Bayshore Blvd.
Interval workouts usually consist of sprints and uphill training to build up the racers’ endurance.With intense training under Coach Slaven’s leadership, it can turn out to help the Spartans throughout the season.
With the men and women picking up victories in their first race, they hope to expand their success against the superior Divsion I cross country programs they will face later in the season.
Every year they travel to invites and invitationals to race against teams like the University of Florida and Florida State University.
“If you don’t fly with the eagles, you won’t be an eagle,” Coach Slaven said of racing against top Division I schools.
The Spartans finished second at the University of Florida Invitational in 2009.
UT’s cross country team is currently ranked 10th in the nation for Division II programs.
Coach Slaven says that it is early, but he hopes to maintain or improve that ranking throughout the season.
The next race for the Spartans is the Florida Tech Invite on Saturday, Sept. 11 at Wickham Park in Melbourne, FL. Another big race for the team is the Lehigh Invitational in Pa. on October 1. The Spartans expect to compete highly in the race.
Michael Paonessa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.