Cross Country Teams to Race at Paul Short Invitational Friday

Sept. 27, 2007

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - After a two-week hiatus from competition, the UCF cross country teams travel Bethlehem, Pa. to compete in the Paul Short Invitational on Friday afternoon.

The Knights have performed well in their two previous meets, finishing no lower than fifth in the team standings as several runners have posted personal-best times. During this weekend's meet in Pennsylvania, they will be looking to further close the gap between the top and bottom of the scoring line-up.

Racing against a field of 42 teams, the UCF men kick off the event with a 1 p.m. start. Senior Paul Nielsen (Oviedo HS) has been the squad's No. 1 runner thus far this season, clocking in a season-best 26:18.70 at Florida's Mountain Dew Invitational on Sept. 7. Consistently following Nielsen in the next three spots have been junior Daniel Conn (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic HS) and seniors Paul Fitzpatrick (Ocala, Fla./Vanguard HS) and Matt Clements (Oviedo HS). Conn recorded a personal best of 26:25.67 in the 8K at Gainesville, Fla., and then went 26:26.65 at the Vanderbilt Classic the next weekend. At the same race, Fitzpatrick went a season best of 26:30.23 and Clements ran a career best of 26:45.17.

The Knights will look to sophomore transfer Richie Bonilla (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay HS) and freshmen Baker Burchfield (Tampa, Fla./Wharton HS) and Miles Harris (Newberry, Fla./Oak Hill HS) to step up and close the gap between the No.4 and No.5 runners.

The UCF women will face a field of 47 schools when the starter's gun sounds at 1:40 p.m. Senior co-captain Karen Kozub (Alden, N.Y./Alden HS) led the Knights at the recent Vanderbilt Commodore Classic on Sept. 15 as she placed seventh at 18:29.53, erasing 30 seconds from her previous personal-best in the 5K. After finishing at the top of the line-up at the Mountain Dew Invitational with a personal-record time of 18:34.37, junior Jamie Rzepecki (East Aurora, N.Y./East Aurora HS) came in second for the team the following weekend.

Meanwhile, senior Elizabeth Miller (Orlando, Fla./Timber Creek HS) and sophomore Jenny Clausen (Jackson, N.J./Jackson Memorial HS) have also scored at both previous meets in either the fourth or fifth positions. Miller posted a career-best time of 19:26.96 earlier this year, while Clausen logged an 18:31.20 last season.

Also running for the Knights is sophomore Shannon Kelly (Tampa, Fla./Sickles HS) with a personal-best time of 18:36 in the 5K. Junior Shantile Blackburn (Brooklyn, N.Y/Bishop Laughlin HS) returns to the line-up after missing the Vanderbilt Commodore Classic.

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