LAKELAND – The men’s and women’s cross country teams look to bring home Sunshine State Conference Championships to Florida Southern this weekend as they compete in the 2012 SSC Championships held at the UCF Cross Country Complex in Orlando.
The men’s team has won 15 of the last 17 championships. Last season’s conference runner-up finish was the first time in 15 years that the Moccasin cross country squad did not take home a conference title after winning 14 straight between 1997-2010.
This season, the Mocs have been paced by juniors Chris Yanichko (Grove City, Ohio) and David Tomchinsky (Englewood, Fla.). Yanichko and Tomchinsky have been a consistent one-two punch for the Mocs, having led FSC to season opening win at the Tampa Early Bird Invitational with second and third place individual finishes respectively.
Newcomer Jose Perez (Haines City, Fla.) has given the Mocs a boost as the third runner on the team all season long with a top-time of 27:03, coming at the Mountain Dew Invitational in Gainesville, for the freshman. Junior Chris Trebilcock (Alachua, Fla.) has run consistently in the fourth spot for the Mocs this season with a top-time of 27:26 at the 8k course in Gainesville.
The SSC once again has proven a tough conference to run in as half the region ranking spots are filled with SSC schools. The Mocs started the season as early favorites in the South Region as well as the SSC after starting the season second in the preseason United States Track and Field Cross County Coaches Association Poll. The majority of the season saw the Mocs rooted behind Alabama-Huntsville in the No. 2 spot, but by week four the Mocs fell out of the top-five and into the eighth spot in the region.
A strong finish at the SSC Championship would give the Mocs momentum going into the South Region championship in Huntsville, Ala. on Nov. 3. The only region championship for FSC came in 2007.
The women’s team has been led all season by senior Emily LaBarbera (Cape Coral, Fla.). Her top finish and time came at the Saint Leo Invitational where she finished 13th overall and clocked a 6k time of 23:50.
Sophomores Jessica Krystek (Ringoes, N.J.) and Alex Geiger (Huntington Valley, Pa.) have ran the second and third spots for the women most of the season with best times coming at the Saint Leo Invitational, as well.
The Mocs are seeking their eighth conference title with the last one being won in 2006.
Both teams are led by head coach Rebecca Marsh and assistant coach Ben Martucci.