UCF Races at 2006 C-USA Cross Country Championships Saturday

Oct. 27, 2006

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF cross country teams look to improve upon their inaugural season efforts when the Golden Knights travel to Greenville, N.C. for the 2006 Conference USA Championships on Saturday.

After a successful fall that saw them ranked as high as 10th in the U.S. Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association South Region poll, the Golden Knight men are focused on bettering their fourth place finish of a year ago. They made significant strides toward that goal with a first place showing at the Disney Classic and second place finishes at the Mountain Dew Invitational and the Furman Invitational.

Junior Dustin Hicks (Oviedo HS) has run No. 1 all season after making his season debut with a time of 25:16.39, an effort that ranks second all-time at UCF in the 8K. Senior Brent White (Boynton Beach, Fla./Santaluces HS) has followed behind Hicks in the No. 2 spot and posted a season-best of 25:44.86.

Although they have switched positions in the scoring lineup, senior Ryan White and juniors Paul Nielsen and Paul Fitzgerald have not dropped out of the team's top five all season. White has run No. 3 for UCF in two meets this fall, posting a season-best of 25:52.98 after finishing in the top 20 at the 2005 conference championship. Fitzpatrick, who has finished no lower than fourth in the Golden Knights lineup, recorded a season-best of 26:06.30, while Nielsen has landed in the No. 5 spot in most meets and posted a personal record of 26:16.55.

Also racing for the men are junior Matt Clements, sophomore Daniel Conn and freshman John Horst.

Building upon a strong third place showing at the Furman Invitational two weeks ago, the UCF women hope to improve upon their ninth place finish of 2005. Youth has been the key for the Golden Knights all season as freshman Jenny Clausen (Jackson, N.J./Jackson Memorial HS) led the pack through four varsity meets. A C-USA Athlete of the Week selection earlier this month, she recorded a time of 18:31.20, which ranks her sixth in the program's record book.

A middle distance specialist when she arrived at UCF, sophomore Shantile Blackburn (Brooklyn, N.Y./Bishop Laughlin HS) has made a major impact in cross country, moving into the team's No. 2 spot. She turned in a personal best of 18:51.32 at the Mountain Dew Invitational. Her classmate Jamie Rzepecki, who recorded a season-best of 19:12.08, has run at No. 3 most of the fall.

A trio of juniors will also be at the start on Saturday. Team captain Karen Kozub (Alden, N.Y./Alden HS) has contributed points in three of the four meets she has raced, posting a season-best time of 19:22.10. Elizabeth Miller (Orlando, Fla./Timber Creek HS) has been among the team's top five all season, while Allison Palmer (Oviedo HS) finished in the No. 2 spot for UCF at the Great American Classic.

Senior Christina Jones (Coral Springs HS) and freshman Eric Weitz (Morganville, N.J./Marlboro HS) round out the lineup.

Hosted by East Carolina, the meet takes place at Overton Lake Kristi. The women's race begins at 10:30 a.m. followed by the men's event at 11:30 a.m. The first 15 men and women to cross the finish line at the conference championships will be named to the C-USA All-Conference first (5), second (5) and third (5) teams.

No. 4 ranked UTEP is the favorite to defend their men's title, while Rice is the reigning women's champion and boasts the highest regional ranking.

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