The Florida Southern men's cross country will head to The Abbey Golf Course on State Road 52 in Saint Leo this Saturday at 9:45 a.m. with a goal of capturing a third consecutive NCAA Division II South Regional Championship.
Florida Southern has won the South Regional Championship in each of Ben Martucci's first two seasons as head coach. The Moccasins won the 2013 South Regional at the Dover Trails with 65 team points and the 2014 championship in Huntsville, Ala. with 74 team points. The Moccasins also won the 2007 regional championship. Overall, this is Florida Southern's 22nd regional appearance and the team has finished in the top three in 10 of the last 11 seasons.
A total of 16 teams will be competing in the South Regional Championship with the top three teams and a minimum of three individuals not from one of the top three teams earning automatic advancement to the NCAA Division II Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 21, in Joplin, Mo.
Martucci, who ran four seasons for the Moccasins from 2007-10, will take seven runners to Saint Leo for the regional 10K race, which will be the first 10K of the season for the team as all previous meets have been 8K.
Dean McGregor, the Sunshine State Conference Freshman of the Year, was the Moccasins top finisher at the UF Mountain Dew Invitational (25:57.58) and the FSU Invitational (26:09.2). He was fourth overall at the Moccasin Invitational (27:16.3) and 16th at the SSC Championships with a 26:16.1 time.
Senior Jose Perez, a USTFCCCA All-South honoree in 2013, won the Moccasin Invitational with a time of 26:47.3 and finished second to McGregor at the UF and FSU races with times of 26:09.11 and 26:16.2 respectively. At the SSC meet, he was the third Moccasin to finish, posting a 26:22.9 time. Perez has competed in the NCAA South Regional in each of his three previous seasons, including a 13th place finish in 2013.
Junior Anthony Pollizzi, a graduate of Duke University who is working on a Business degree at FSC, finished seventh at the SSC Championship with a personal best time of 25:59.0, the second fastest 8K time posted by a Moccasin this season, just 1.02 second behind McGregor's time at the UF Invitational.
Senior Kyle Butler, who was named to the USTFCCCA All-South Region team a season ago, recorded his second best time at the UF Mountain Dew Invitational with a 26:12.09 time and his fourth fastest time at the FSU meet with a 26:40.2 race. Butler was 22nd at last year's regional with a 33:46.08 time in the 10K meet in Huntsville, Ala.
Senior Zach Hall has run two 8K races this season, posting the third fastest time of his career with a 26:49.9 time at the SSC Championship where he finished 24th overall. He competed in the 2012 and 2014 NCAA regional meets.
Junior Cody Van Natter has participated in three 8K runs this season, recording a personal best time of 26:46.7 at the SSC Championship where he placed 22nd overall. He was a member of the Moccasins' 2014 regional championship team.
The seventh Moccasin runner will be a race-time decision by Martucci between sophomore John Bryant or freshman Everett Wagner. Bryant ran in two 8K races for the Moccasins this season, finishing 26th at the SSC meet and just missing a personal best by .08 seconds at the UF Mountain Dew Invitational. Wagner ran in all four of the Mocs' 8K races this season posting his best time at the SSC championship where he ran 26:46.7 to finish 38th.
Joining Florida Southern in the regional will be the following teams: Alabama-Huntsville; Benedict; Christian Brothers; Florida Tech; Lee; North Alabama; Nova Southeastern; Saint Leo; Shorter; Tampa; Union; Valdosta State; West Alabama; West Florida; and West Georgia.
In the final regular season United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association South Regional Poll on Oct. 27, SSC Champion, Saint Leo was the top ranked team followed by Lee, Nova Southeastern, Alabama-Huntsville, West Alabama, Florida Southern, Tampa, West Florida, Florida Tech, and Shorter.