By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA – The Bulls have an opportunity to become the first American Athletic Conference cross country champions at the inaugural league meet that takes place Saturday in Madison, Conn.
The men’s 8K gets going at 11 a.m., followed by the women’s 6k at Hammonasset Beach State Park.
“We’ve gone to a lot of meets, where our runners have gained a lot of confidence, and I think they’re physically and mentally ready to go out there and do really well,” head coach Dena Reif said.
The USF women’s squad is coming off a 13th place finish at the Crimson Classic on Oct. 18 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Junior Kelli Williams has led the Bulls in four out of five meets this season and will look to anchor a team that includes sophomore Bethany Evans, freshman Catherine Blaney, sophomore Leandra Munson, junior Abby Ritter, freshman Sarah Hartman, freshman Natalie Novak and senior Jessie Prendergast.
Sophomore Michael Babinec has been the top USF men’s finisher in four out of five races this season and he’ll be joined at the league meet by freshman Francisco Baglieri, freshman Scott Bartlett, junior Connor Bauer, freshman Steven Briner, freshman Nick Buliga, senior Steven Fernandez, freshman Alex Hernandez and sophomore Alex Hoffman.
Saturday’s conference course is located inside Connecticut’s largest shoreline park and Reif expects the Bulls to excel on a flat and fast surface.
“We’ve been training on hills, so we should be strong on the flat surface and the hills,” Reif said. “We’re excited to see what kind of personal bests we can run.”
More Bulls at Richard’s Run on Friday
Bulls not competing at The American meet will take part in Richard’s Run for Life 5k on Friday at 7 p.m. in Ybor City.
Richard Gonzmart, the event's creator and a USF supporter, donates 100 percent of the funds raised to benefit the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Initiative for Sarcoma research at Moffitt Cancer Center.
“It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community and help raise funds for cancer research,” Reif said.