Cross country aiming to impress

The USF cross country coaching staff has some extra work ahead of them when they travel to Gainesville Saturday for the Florida Invite at the University of Florida.

With most of the in-state schools attending the meet, including Florida, Florida State and Miami, and with a major high school cross country meet running concurrently with the collegiate competition, coaches hope to use this meet to help recruit the top in-state cross-country runners.

And with the potential runners in the area to impress, USF coach Greg Thiel has tweaked his roster in order to help the Bulls repeat as champions after last season’s first-place finish.

“It’s just like this weekend when Miami plays Florida (in college football),” Thiel said. “It’s important (for recruiting purposes) to have a good performance. We (also) want to do well because there is a lot of in-state schools.”

Thiel said he will run junior Bente General this weekend in order to give the Bulls three experienced runners in the field. General originally wasn’t scheduled to compete.

The Bulls also return the top two runners from last season’s competition, when the meet was called the Florida Intercollegiate, in Christa Benton and Jessica Hellender.

Benton won last year’s meet, which was the second win of her career, and Hellender finished a close second, the highest finish of her career.

The men’s team didn’t fare as well in last season’s competition, finishing in sixth place. However, sophomore Sean Burris, who finished 24th last year, is coming off his first collegiate victory, while the team had good performances by senior Adam Chumbley, sophomore Derek Lincoln and freshman Coe Fedorenko.