Measuring success

The USF cross country team travels to South Bend, Ind., this weekend looking to determine how it matches up to the top programs in the nation.

The team will run against a field of more than 70 men and women’s teams, including 19 of the top 30 teams. The annual meet is among the biggest of the season, and is an easy way for teams to measure their abilities compared to the country’s best.

“We’re pretty excited going up there this weekend because it will give us a chance to gauge how we stand compared to some of the country’s top teams,” coach Greg Thiel said. “The women are running as well as anyone in the country right now, and I think they will do real well. Hopefully, we can make some more people take notice this weekend.”

The women’s team finished third last week at the Bulldog Stampede Invitational at Georgia. USF’s Christa Benton, Bente General and Jessica Hellender took the top three individual spots.

The men’s team, however, does not have the established record the women do. The team did not qualify for the team standings at the Bulldog Stampede Invitational, and only Sean Burris, who finished 10th, placed in the top 10 for USF.

“It’s a pretty big meet this weekend, with a lot of good schools,” Burris said. “We all need to run well this weekend. The team performance is a lot more important than our individual performances. “But we as a team are definitely not there yet. We are a young, up-and-coming team.”

Burris said he thinks being a young team could be a benefit.

“Because we are so young, we have everything to prove and nothing to lose this weekend,” he said. “No matter what happens we have the next couple of years to improve and create a reputation for ourselves.”