The Florida Southern women's cross country team will be looking to continue its strong season at the 2018 SSC Meet this Saturday at 87:45 a.m. on the campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL.
"The women are excited to race again on the tough Embry Riddle course in Daytona Beach," said first-year Moccasin head coach Stephanie Bylander.
The most familiar foe for the Moccasins in this year's field will be the ERAU Eagles, who are competing in just their second SSC championship and winning the title last season. The two schools have competed in the same meets on three occasions this season with Embry-Riddle finishing ahead of Florida Southern in the last two meetings after the Moccasins topped the Eagles at ERAU's own meet on Sept. 25. The SSC championships will be held on the same course, but will be extended to a 6K course from the previous 5K.
Tampa received votes in the latest USTFCCCA national poll and is ranked second in the South Region followed by Embry-Riddle (4th), Florida Southern (5th), Saint Leo (7th) and Lynn (10th).
"The final team scores will likely be close among the top 3-4 teams," says Bylander, "so it's going to come down to who can maintain throughout the second half of the race and also over the extra distance."
Florida Southern has finished in the top five in each meet this season, posting wins at the Holloway Park Preseason Festival and Embry-Riddle ASICS Classic; placing second at the Disney Classic; taking third at the USC-Beaufort Sand Shark Invitational, and coming in fifth at the Queens City Invitational.
The SSC has had a different champion in each of the last three seasons with Tampa (which has won a league-best 13 titles) winning in 2015, Saint Leo in 2016, and Embry-Riddle in 2018. There will be a new individual winner this season as Saint Leo's Colett Rampf won the last four titles. Florida Southern, which is second in the SSC with seven championships, last won an SSC crown in 2006 with FSC Hall of Famer Jael Koech taking the last individual championships that same season. The Moccasins have also finished as SSC runners-up 10 times.
"We're looking forward to finally competing against Tampa for the first time this season and having another re-match with Embry Riddle," says Bylander.
The strength of this year's team has been its balance. Four different Moccasins have led the team in the first four meets with only sophomore Hannah Flemming repeating as the first Moccasin runner, topping the team in the third and fifth races. Freshman Sarah Zamot came in second overall at the Holloway Park Preseason Festival on Sept 1; fellow freshman Alayna Goll took fourth overall at the Embry-Riddle ASICS Classic on Sept. 15; Flemming placed 23rd at the Queens City Invitational on Sept. 28 with a personal-best 18:19; sophomore Addison Cantor came in fourth at the Disney Classic on Oct. 6 with a personal-best time of 18:20.24; and Flemming turned in an eighth-place showing at the USC-Beaufort Sand Shark Classic on Oct. 20.
Zamot's best effort was an 18:59.2 at the USC-Beaufort Sand Shark Classic while Goll's best time of 18:37 came at the Queens City Invitational. Ysabella Guerra has been on the Moccasins top five runners in each meet and posted a personal-best mark of 19:03 at the Queens City meet.
"Ultimately, this is another step in the process toward the NCAA South Region Championships in a couple weeks (Nov. 17 at Lakeland's Holloway Park)," says Bylander. "We'll look hard at what we need to do after this meet to continue to prepare the team to run their best race at regionals.
The Embry-Riddle Cross Country Course will be the site of the SSC Championship meet with Rollins College serving as the host institution. Final results will be posted following the race.