CROSS COUNTRY

UT Looking to Repeat as SSC Cross Country Champions

ORLANDO, Fla. - The 2012 Sunshine State Conference Cross Country Championship will be held on Saturday, Oct. 20, at the UCF Cross Country Complex in Orlando, Fla. Rollins College is serving as host for this year's event.

Florida Southern, Florida Tech, Nova Southeastern, Rollins, Saint Leo, and Tampa will each field a men's and women's team for the championship. Also this year, Lynn will field a women's team for the first time in 11 years.

The championship will kick off with the men's 8K race at 7:30 a.m. The women's 6K event will follow at 8:15 a.m.

Tampa will once again enter the weekend as the favorite to claim the SSC women's cross country title. The Spartans have won the last five championships and nine of the last 10 league crowns. The squad has been nationally ranked all season and currently sits at No. 13 in the most recent U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) top 25 poll.

UT has placed in the top five of all six of its races this fall. The Spartans started the season with three straight team wins at the UT Early Bird Classic, USF Invitational, and Florida Southern's Jim Ryun Invitational. They have also logged a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing.

Nova Southeastern and Florida Tech will look to dethrone the Spartans, with each squad appearing in the latest USTFCCCA South Region rankings. NSU was slated second behind UT, while Florida Tech appeared in the ninth slot. The Sharks have registered three top 10 finishes this fall. They placed third at the Florida Gulf Coast Invitational, seventh at the USF Invitational, and eighth at the Florida State Invitational.

Coming off its first men's cross country title in school history, Tampa will have to stave off five SSC men's squads that were ranked in the USTFCCCA regional rankings.

The Spartans' victory a year ago snapped a streak of 14 consecutive SSC men's cross country titles for Florida Southern. UT was sixth in last week's regional polls behind No. 2 Florida Tech. Nova Southeastern appeared at No. 7, followed by Florida Southern at No. 8, and Saint Leo at No. 10.

Tampa has logged four top-five finishes in five events. The Spartans were the team champions at FSC's Jim Ryun Invitational.

In four races, Florida Tech has tallied three top-five performances. The Panthers were runner-up at the UT Early Bird Classic and the Saint Leo Invitational. Should Tech claim the men's title, it would be the program's first since 1991. The Panthers had also won the league crown in 1990.

Admission to the SSC Cross Country Championship is free. The UCF Cross Country Complex is located adjacent to the softball field, which sits near parking lot E4 off Orion Boulevard on the University of Central Florida campus. A campus map is available at this link.

Rollins has created a host site at RollinsSports.com, which will feature results and photos following Saturday morning's action.

Following the completion of both races on Saturday, fans are invited to attend the awards ceremony. In addition to the team championship trophies, the All-Tournament Team, which will consist of the top 10 finishers in each race, will be recognized. Each top finisher will also receive an individual award.

Visit sunshinestateconference.com for the latest news and info on Sunshine State Conference Athletics.

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