University of North Florida’s cross country and track and field Head Coach Mark VanAlstyne has released the men’s and women’s cross country schedule for the 2009 season. Even though UNF has participated in its Conference Championships in previous seasons, this will be the first time they will be able to compete in the NCAA Championships. The Ospreys will run in six total events this fall. Four of the events will be held in Florida and one event will be held in North Dakota, before wrapping up with the Atlantic Sun Championships on Oct. 31in DeLand, Fla..“All of us have been waiting and planning for the opportunity to compete for a [NCAA] Championship for a long time and this season will be our first taste at that,” said VanAlstyne. “Each one of our scheduled events was constructed to prepare and ready us for the south region championships in Tuscaloosa.” Opening the season up at the Jacksonville Short Course Duals on Sept. 4., the squad will be split, as the top seven men and women Ospreys will fly north to Grand Forks, N.D., for the University of North Dakota and South Dakota State University event, on Sept. 5.UNF, being a full fledged Division I member is caught in the middle between UND and SDSU, when it comes to transitioning to Division I. UND’s reclassification will be completed at the end of the 2011-12 season and SDSU completed its first season as a Division I member last season. “We look forward to running against North Dakota and South Dakota State being in between these schools it will be interesting to see where we measure,” said VanAlstyne. UNF will then proceed to Gainesville, Fla., for the Florida Mountain Dew Invitational on Sept. 18. Last season when UNF made the trip to Gainesville, the women finished seventh and the men finished second out of 13 teams. On Oct.10, the Ospreys are slated to run in the Seminole Invite in Tallahassee, Fla., which they competed in last season. Rising senior Hilary Adams (Dallas, Pa./Dallas HS) led the way for UNF finishing 10th out of the 111 runners. As for the men, the Ospreys soared as a team finishing third at the Seminole Invite. UNF finished two different runners in the top 14: rising sophomore Johnathan Esteban (Jacksonville, Fla./Lincoln Park Academy) finished ninth and rising junior Will Pearce (Jacksonville, Fla./Bolles HS) finished 14th.After its trip to Tallahassee, UNF will travel to DeLand, Fla. on Oct. 16 to compete in the Sodexho Stetson Hatter Invite, which will also be the site of the Halloween day, Oct. 31, A-Sun Championship.In 2008, the men finished fourth out of 11 at the Atlantic Sun Championships (122 points). The men’s team will return nine runners this season including Pearce, who notched a solid performance at the A-Sun Championship clocking a 25:49.79 in the 8,000 meter run to finish 19th. UNF will also have five newcomers joining the men’s squad.As for the women, they finished sixth out of 11 at the A-Sun Championship. The women lost four senior runners from last year but will add five freshmen and stand-out track and field runner Laura Ragland (Jacksonville, Fla., Bartram Trail HS), who as a freshman ran the 800 meter, 1500m and 3000m events.
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