By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - The 2012 USF cross country schedule has been released and the Bulls will have plenty of chances to compete against top teams in Florida.
USF kicks its season off at the University of Tampa meet in Brandon on Friday, Aug. 31 before the Bulls host the USF meet at The Claw in Tampa on Friday, Sept. 7. The USF meet is in its second year and will feature 16 men's and women's teams including Florida, UCF, Miami, Tampa, Embry-Riddle and Florida International.
"It should be a lot of fun and very competitive," coach Dena Reif said.
View the entire 2012 schedule HERE.
Next on the schedule is the Iona Meet of Champions on Saturday, Sept. 15 in New York at a location that will host the Big East Championship on Saturday, Oct. 27.
The Bulls will stay out of the state for the Paul Short Run at Lehigh in Bethleham, Pa., on Friday, Sept. 28 in what should be another good test for USF's young squads. The event features three 40-team races that include schools from the SEC and the Big East.
"A lot of the top teams in the nation come and run there," Reif said. "It will be nice to have tough competition and see what the Big East is going to be like for us."
The Bulls' next test comes Friday, Oct. 5 at Florida State, which also will be the host for NCAA South Regionals on Friday, Nov. 9.
"We're going to go and preview the course, so when we get to regionals we'll know where the hard spots are," Reif said.
USF's final meet against the state's top programs is Friday, Oct. 12 at UCF and it will give the Bulls a beneficial tune-up for the Big East meet two weeks later.
"It's actually four meets, plus regionals that we're going to be in the state. We have a lot of kids from Florida, so we should have a lot of parental support and that's always good," Reif said.
The Bulls have the Richard's Run at Y'Bor City on the schedule Nov. 2 with USF running student-athletes that didn't compete at the Big East meet.
The USF women's team heads into the season with senior Nicole Rozario as the squad's top returner. Kelli Williams also returns after being the only freshman in USF's top five last season and the Bulls' new top five will include junior Jessie Prendergast, sophomore Abby Ritter and senior Rachael James.
Youth is definitely the theme for the USF men's team that has five freshmen joining the squad this season. USF's lone senior is Felix Soto and its lone junior is Steven Fernandez. A total of 20 student-athletes will be competing for the final two spots on the roster in tryouts.
"It's going to be very competitive," Reif said.