TAMPA – University of South Florida Cross Country coaches Dena Reif and Warren Bye plan to cash in on the youth movement that the team has been engaged in for the last two seasons as they gear up for the 2010 season.
Senior Pedro Carela, who won the 5,000-meter title at the 25th annual Dominican Republic Track and Field National Championships this summer, and junior Philip Wise lead a USF men’s cross country team that return six upperclassmen.
“This year I feel the men’s team is bigger and better than in years past,” said coach Reif.
The USF women’s cross country team will rely on the leadership of juniors Nicole Rozario, who consistently ran in the top five for the entire 2009 season, Yasmin Smith and Allie Prendergrast to lead the way for a team loaded with juniors.
“Last year we had a strong top three runners with questions in the four and five spots, but this year we feel like we have a strong team one through five,” said coach Reif.
Allie Prendergrast will not only be mentoring her fellow runners but will also be keeping an eye on her younger sister, Jessie Prendergrast, who joins the team as a freshman.
The Bulls begin the 2010 campaign on Sept. 11 with a trip to Big East foe Syracuse, for the Syracuse Invitational in New York.
“This will be a preview of the Big East Championship and our times have improved from where we were last year, so we are expecting great things,” said coach Reif.
The next hurdle for the Bulls brings them back to Florida where they will compete in the Florida Invitational on Sept. 18.
Pennsylvania will be the Bulls’ destination for two out of the next three weeks when they compete in the Paul Short Invitational in Bethlehem, Pa. on Oct. 1, returning south to run in the Florida State Invitational on Oct. 8, hosted by Florida State University in Tallahassee, and then traveling back to Pennsylvania to compete in the Penn State Invitational in State College Pa., on Oct. 16.
The coaches scheduled these meets in Pennsylvania in order to give the Bulls an opportunity to adjust to running in colder climates.
“Last year we were training in 90 degree weather here in Florida and then had to compete in 30 degree weather in Wisconsin,” said coach Reif.
October 30th marks the Bulls’ final meet in the state of Florida when they compete in the Florida Southern Invitational in Lakeland, Fla..
The end of the regular season marks a return to Syracuse, N.Y. where USF will look to make their mark in the Big East Championship. Last year the women’s team finished 12th in the Big East Championship, while the men’s team came in 13th place.