LAKELAND, FL - The Moccasin women's cross country team will join 21 other teams this Saturday as Florida Southern joins forces with Central Florida's Polk County Sports Marketing to host the NCAA Division II South Region Cross Country Championship here at the Holloway Park and Nature Preserve. This is the second year in a row that the regional has been held in Lakeland.
The championships get underway with the men's 10K race at 7:30 a.m. followed by the women's 6K race at 8:45 a.m. Admission is free and the public is invited.
First-year head coach Stephanie Bylander will take her Moccasins into the meet looking to improve on last year's 11th place showing. The Moccasins last finished in the top five in 2009 and last qualified for nationals in 2006.
The top three teams from each regional will earn a berth to nationals along with 10 at-large teams. In addition, the top two individuals who are not part of a qualifying team will automatically advance to the championship finals while all individuals who finish in the top five at regionals not on a qualifying team will move on. There are also eight individual at-large bids.
Flemming and Cantor will be expected to lead the Moccasins into the regional as they have during the season. Flemming has been the top Florida Southern finisher in three of the last four races while Cantor has finished in the top two in each of the last three outings. Joining the duo will be freshman Sarah Zamot, juniors Hannah Nelson and Ysabella Guerra, along with seniors Jolene Vergauwen and Aleksa Guerra.
Flemming came in 54th last season with a 24:02.87 in the South Regional while Cantor is in her first season on the cross country team. This is the fourth regional event for Aleksa Guerra who came in 42nd in 2017 (23:48.1), 72nd in 2016 (25:08.7), and 52nd in 2015 (24:45.3).
Nelson will be representing FSC in her third regional coming in 37th in 2017 (23:39.3), and 47th in 2016 (24:29.9). Vergauwen is running in her fourth South Regional following an 82nd place finish last season (25:12.9), 59th in 2016 (2:43.8), and 44th in 2015 (24:30.9).
Comprising the regional field will be Lee (TN), the South Region's top-ranked team in the latest USTFCCCA poll released Nov. 6, #2 Tampa, #3 Embry-Riddle, #4 Alabama-Huntsville, #5 Saint Leo (defending regional champion), #6 Union (TN), #7 Florida Southern, #8 Montevallo, #9 West Florida, and #10 Lynn. Also competing will be Albany State, Benedict, Christian Brothers, Delta State, Florida Tech, Mississippi College, Nova Southeastern, Palm Beach Atlantic, Puerto Rico-Bayamon, Shorter, Spring Hill, and Valdosta State.