Bulls finish second; qualify for NCAA Championships

The USF women’s cross country team entered Saturday’s South Region Championship as the defending regional champion.

While the Bulls failed to defend their title, their second-place finish was good enough to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

“They ran really well,” USF coach Heather Curtiss said of her team. “They didn’t run their season-best races, but it was well enough to get them to the national championships. So our focus this week will be to work on the weaknesses of Saturday’s race and to try and have better performances at the national championships.”

The meet was held at the Harry Pritchard Golf Course in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and saw Georgia Tech take home the women’s team title with 54 points. Georgia Tech’s Renee Metivier topped the individual standings with a time of 20 minutes, 20.39 seconds.

USF was led by junior Kristy Fuller, who finished 11th overall (21:37.39) and earned All-Conference honors. Also earning All-Conference honors were senior Tara Quinn (21:53.17, 15th place), freshman Christa Benton (22:12.02, 22nd place) and senior Tiffany Quinn (22:14.57, 23rd place).

Cori Kill (22:33.85), Ashley McComas (23:11.43) and Jennifer Walczuk (23:28.49) finished 32nd, 62nd and 68th, respectively. The Bulls (102 points) defeated Florida State by a slim 11-point margin.

“It was actually pretty close, and when the race was finished we weren’t 100 percent sure that we had qualified,” Curtiss said.

“The girls ran hard … but several of them did not have their best races.”

The USF men’s team finished second at last year’s regional meet and also qualified for the NCAAs. Saturday, however, with a team of all underclassmen, the Bulls (335 points) placed 13th out of 17 teams.

Freshman Jim Vitale earned All-Region honors in the 10-kilometer men’s race, finishing 22nd with a time of 32:03.17.

“The men finished 13th, which I felt was actually pretty good for a team of freshmen and two sophomores,” Curtiss said. “Jim Vitale had an outstanding race. He ran the first mile-and-a-half of the race with the leaders, until he realized that was a little bit too quick for his maturity (level).”

Next in line for the Bulls was another freshman, Doug Brown, who placed 67th (33:30.81). Sophomore Adam Chumbley, the lone holdover from last year’s team, finished 71st with a time of 33:42.43. The other USF runners were freshmen Jack Galley (35:13.03, 103rd) and George Palmerola (35:59.13, 112th), and sophomore Tony Grech (36:06.01, 113th).

David Kimani (30:06.43) of Alabama won the men’s race for the second consecutive year and led the host Crimson Tide (55 points) to the team title. Tennessee (84 points) was the other men’s NCAA qualifier. Florida State, coached by former USF coach Bob Braman, also finished third in the men’s race, a single point adrift of Tennessee.

  • Contact Khari Williams at oraclekhari@yahoo.com