JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With three weeks of preparation under their belts, Jacksonville University's cross country teams are ready to hit the trail, beginning with Saturday's season-opener at the UNF XC Challenge.
Several fellow Atlantic Sun competitors will be participating, including Florida Gulf Coast, Stetson, and host UNF. The Dolphins will also be facing in-state rivals Bethune Cookman and UCF, as well as out-of-state runners from LIU-Brooklyn.
The men's race begins at 7:30 a.m., while the women follow at 7:50 a.m.
"The UNF meet will help us solidify our expectations for the season," said Head Coach Ronald Grigg, Jr. "For the first time in over a decade the teams returned to campus early and it allowed us three weeks of preparation. The shorter race distance combined with the formidable opposition will give us a reliable measuring stick of our fitness."
A variety of experienced runners will guide the Dolphins, including seniors Kyle Crews, Jr. and Jeremy McDermet, and sophomore Brett Gerhardt on the men's side and junior Kyla Siemens, senior Katy Solis, and sophomore Nora McUmber on the women's side.
Last season at the UNF Invitational, McDermet paced the Dolphins with a 28:45.69 finish in the 8K race, while Crews followed behind in 32:25.06. The women's side finished with three runners in the top-ten last year, as Siemens paced the Dolphins in the 5K in 18:36.64 for third place, while Solis finished fourth in 18:45.74. McUmber followed in seventh with a time of 18:52.24.
The women, recently ranked 14th in the USTFCCCA South Region Preseason Poll, were selected to finish third and the men were selected eighth in the 2016 Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll.
The Dolphins will next compete at the UF Mountain Dew Invitational in Gainesville on September 24.