MACON, Ga. – After finishing fourth last season, the FGCU men’s cross country team was predicted to repeat that same finish in 2013 by league coaches as the Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Poll was released Thursday.
ETSU took the first-place vote for the 2013 season, beating out Lipscomb by 20 points, 94-74. Fillip Jalovy, a two-time First Team All-Conference member from ETSU, has been named A-Sun Preseason Runner of the Year. Jalovy finished third in the 2012 A-Sun Championship. Lipscomb snatched the second-place spot in the poll after placing three runners on the All-Freshman Team last year.
FGCU is coming off arguably its best season to date, placing 20th at the NCAA South Regionals and finishing the year ranked as the third-best cross-country only school in the nation. The Eagles earned their first-ever ranking in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll, checking in at No. 14 in the Oct. 29 South Region release.
Seniors Argeo Cruz (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee HS) and Chris Rudloff (Ormond Beach, Fla./Mainland) lead the list of seven returning runners as both posted the top-two records all-time in the 8K last season. Cruz set a program-best time of 25:20.64 at the Greater Louisville Classic, breaking the previous mark by 17 seconds. Rudloff set the second-fastest time (25:28.98) in program history at the A-Sun Conference Championships. Rudloff was also named to the All-Conference Second Team with his time that day.
Sophomore Aaron Rojas (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) was named to the conference’s All-Freshman Team last year after finishing with a time of 26:17.7 at the A-Sun Championships.
The record-breaking performances for the team continued into the spring as 22 personal records over five meets helped set the Eagles up for the 2013 season. During the regular fall season, the squad won the five-team FGCU Invitational and posted four other top-four finishes throughout the year: second at the Walt Disney World Classic (Oct. 6) out of 23 other teams, third out of 11 at the Black and Gold Challenge at UCF (Oct. 12), fourth at the A-Sun Championships and the highest finish in team history (fifth) at the Mountain Dew Invitational, hosted by University of Florida (Sept. 15).
The Blue and Green commence the 2013 season at the Westminster Academy Invite in Lauderdale Lakes on Saturday, Aug. 31,at 5:30 p.m. After competing in the invite, the club goes on to run in five other meets, including the UF Mountain Dew Invitational, the UCF Black & Gold Invitational and the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn.
This year’s A-Sun Championships will be hosted by Lipscomb in Nashville, Tenn. on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 11 a.m.