Saidi Races at NCAA National Championship

JOPLIN, Mo. – The NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championship was held on Saturday morning from the Tom Rutledge Cross Country Course. Leena Saidi, representing the Nova Southeastern Women’s Cross Country team, placed 102nd with a time of 21:39.0.

Prior to the NCAA National Championship race, Saidi set a Nova Southeastern Women’s Cross Country program record at the NCAA South Region Championship, finishing that race in 20:48.20. Saidi also was recognized as an All-Sunshine State Conference First-Team honoree.

Coach's Corner
Head Coach Jonathan Carter – Leena Saidi ran a very competitive first mile of her race, where she was within the top-25. She ran into some trouble going into the second mile and had to adjust her pacing, setting her up for a better finish. This was definitely an experience she can build on going into track season. For her to be able to compete with the best NCAA Division II student-athletes in the country and finish just outside the top-100 is an accomplishment.

The NCAA National Championship meet concludes the Nova Southeastern Cross Country season. The Sharks, under the direction of Head Coach Jonathan Carter, will return to competition in the spring of 2024 for the upcoming Track season. To stay up-to-date on Sharks Cross Country/Track & Field, be sure to follow on Instagram and X at NSU_WCTF.

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Saidi, Toal, Jakubiak Named to All-SSC First Team

MELBOURNE, Fla. –  The Sunshine State Conference released its 2023 All-SSC Women’s Cross Country selections on Tuesday afternoon. Leena Saidi, Eden Toal, and Ally Jakubiak were recognized by the SSC, earning All Sunshine State Conference First-Team honors after their performances at the SSC Cross Country Championships.

League coaches voted for Runner, Freshman, and Coach of the Year awards, while runners who finish Top-14 at the 2023 SSC Women’s Cross Country Championship earn All-SSC status. Florida Southern College hosted this year’s championship at Holloway Park on October 21st.

Saidi makes her first appearance on the All-SSC first team after her second place finish at the conference meet. Her time of 21:40.0 was not only a personal best but also the fastest time ran by a Shark this year.

Toal earns her second All-SSC honor after placing on the All-SSC second team last year. The junior finished fifth with a personal best 22:10.9, an improvement from her eighth place finish the year prior.

Jakubiak rounded out the top-10 finishers for NSU, running 22:11.4 and earning a sixth place finish en route to her first All-SSC honor.

To stay up-to-date on Sharks Cross Country, be sure to follow on Instagram and Twitter at NSU_XCTF. 

2023 Women’s Cross Country All-SSC Teams 

SSC Finish First Team School Yr. Hometown
1 Aspen Gordon*^^*† Tampa Sr. Morton, Illinois
2 Leena Saidi Nova Southeastern Jr. Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania
3 Emma Skinner† Tampa So. Morton, Illinois
4 Emma Hanstveit Palm Beach Atlantic Fr. Osterøy, Norway
5 Eden Toal^ Nova Southeastern Jr. St. Charles, Missouri
6 Ally Jakubiak Nova Southeastern So. Cumberland, Rhode Island
7 Olivia Harp Tampa Gr. Novi, Michigan
SSC Finish Second Team School Yr. Hometown
8 Emily Kriney Tampa So. Perkasie, Pennsylvania
9 Sadie Nordmeyer Palm Beach Atlantic Jr. Djibouti City, Djibouti
10 Taylor Roth Embry-Riddle Fr. Minster, Ohio
11 Ellie Fluman^^ Florida Southern Jr. St. Augustine, Florida
12 Abby Valley Embry-Riddle Jr. Princeton, Massachusetts
13 Jessica Hernandez Tampa So. Milton, Georgia
14 Ella Malone Palm Beach Atlantic Fr. Barrington, New Hampshire

* = # of Previous All-SSC First Team Honors
^ = # of Previous All-SSC Second-Team Honors
† = Previous Freshman of the Year Honors

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Soja Completes Season at NCAA Championship

SEATTLE, WA. – After an impressive season, Kamila Soja’s season concludes at the NCAA Championship, the sophomore ran her second-fastest time of the year despite losing her shoe 10 minutes into the race. 

Head Coach Bryan Hagopian had this to say about Soja’s performance, “She ran great, at about the 2k mark she lost her shoe but she kept going without it. The conditions were not ideal considering that it was under 40 degrees and being from Florida, we aren’t accustomed to that type of weather but she really stepped up to the plate. We ended the season in an amazing way, although we did not accomplish all the goals we set out, this was a great learning experience for her. Overall, I’m proud of her performance and how she persevered through the adversity, we will build on this going into next season”. 

HOW IT HAPPENED (Women’s 6k) 

  • Soja finished 115th in a field of over 250 athletes, running a time of 22:12.4, her second fastest time this year. To add to being a national qualifier, the sophomore finished her season with a handful of individual accolades, including, All-SSC first-team honors, a member of the All-Championship team, and breaking the NSU school record in the 6k.  

To stay up-to-date on Sharks Cross Country, be sure to follow on Instagram and Twitter at NSU_XCTF. 

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Soja Heads to Seattle for NCAA Championship

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.- Kamila Soja will head to Seattle, Washington to represent Nova Southeastern’s women’s cross-country team at the NCAA Championship. The sophomore looks to pick up where she left off at the NCAA South Region championship. 

Soja is scheduled to race Friday, December 2nd, at 8:00 a.m.  

The Chicopee native has been stellar all season long, leading the Sharks to high team finishes and collecting several individual accolades along the way. Soja claimed second in the 6k at the NCAA South Region Championship with a time of 21.39.1, which was not only a significant personal best but an NSU school record as well. Leading up to the South Region championship, Soja also claimed All-SSC first team, and All-Championship honors at the SSC Championships, to go along with her third-place finish. Her impressive racing helped lead NSU to a 3rd place finish, the program’s highest finish at the SSC Championships since the 2012 season. The sophomore has four top-3 finishes in her races this season.  

For complete coverage of Friday’s action, visit the schedule page on the, or follow the Sharks on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_XCTF.  

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Yanes Named to SSC All-Conference Team

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Officials from the Sunshine State Conference office announced the women’s cross country All-Conference teams, as well as the conference award winners for the 2021 cross country season. Ivanova Yanes earned the second All-Conference honor of her NSU career, being selected to the First-Team.  

Yanes was named the Sunshine State Conference Freshman of the Year, in addition to her first selection on the All-Conference First-Team, during the spring cross country season in 2021, becoming the third NSU Shark to earn the honor. The freshman earned the First-Team nod following a sixth-place finish in the SSC Championship meet on 10/23. 

“I am so proud of Ivanova on being named as a First-Team All-Conference runner,” said Head Coach Bryan Hagopian. “It is amazing to watch her race and she keeps getting better each day. She excels both academically and athletically; we’re thrilled that she represents the Sharks.” 

Yanes won the first meet of the 2021 campaign, claiming a victory at Palm Beach Atlantic and leading the NSU women’s cross-country team to the win. Yanes also added a first-place finish in the Florida Runners meet on 10/1, completing the race in 18:55.  

Yanes looks to lead the Sharks at the NCAA South Region Championship Meet on Sat., 11/6 from Saint Leo, Fla.  

To stay up-to-date on Sharks Cross-Country, be sure to follow on Twitter and Instagram (@nsu_xctf) and Facebook (Nova Southeastern University Cross Country/Track & Field) 

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Sunshine State Conference Announces 2021 Women’s Cross Country Preseason Poll

MELBOURNE, Fla. – The Sunshine State Conference announced the 2021 women’s cross country coaches’ poll on Wednesday afternoon. Tampa was selected as the preseason favorite, as the Spartans have been picked to repeat as SSC winners for the fourth consecutive year.  

Nova Southeastern was voted for seventh in the preseason poll, collecting 15-points. The Sharks are led by Sunshine State Conference Freshman of the Year Ivanova Yanes and All-SSC runner, Maya Espinosa

Last season, the SSC Championship was moved from the Fall semester to February due to concerns over COVID-19. ERAU claimed the conference title at PBA’S Rinker Athletic Campus in West Palm Beach, earning the program’s third league championship in four years. Florida Southern finished second, while Tampa placed third.  

Florida Southern hosts the 2021 Sunshine State Conference Men’s & Women’s Cross-Country Championships on Sat., Oct. 23, at Halloway Park in Lakeland. Saint Leo University will host the regional championship in November and the National Championship at the Abbey Course. 

2021 SSC Women’s Cross Country Preseason Coaches’ Poll 

Rank School Total
1 Tampa 49 (7)
T2 Saint Leo 35 (1)
T2 Palm Beach Atlantic 35
4 Florida Southern 34
5 Embry-Riddle 32
6 Lynn 16
7 Nova Southeastern 15
8  Florida Tech 8

Full release, here

To stay up-to-date with all the latest on the Sharks Cross Country teams, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @NSU_XCTF, and Facebook at NSUXCTF. 

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NSU’s Ivanova Yanes Named SSC Cross Country Freshman of the Year

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Officials from the Sunshine State Conference office announced on Wednesday the women’s cross country All-Conference teams, as well as the conference award winners for the 2021 spring cross country season. The Sharks’ Ivanova Yanes was awarded women’s Freshman of the Year, while NSU had two runners appear on the All-SSC teams.
Voted on by league coaches, Yanes becomes the third NSU runner to earn the Freshman of the Year Award, but is the first Shark to do so since 2015 – previously Anabel Knoll (2015) and Alexandria Palm (2010). Hailing from Hollywood, Fla. and Avant Garde Academy, Yanes first finished fourth at the SSC Championships on February 27 in West Palm Beach, running a 23:19.59 in the 6k to produce the highest finish for an NSU performer since Knoll earned third in 2015.
For her efforts, Yanes earns a spot on the All-SSC First Team, while rookie classmate Maya Espinosa was named to the second team after finishing 13th at the conference meet with a time of 24:45.27.
“We are really excited to see her win this award,” head coach Bryan Hagopian said. “We are really proud and she’s leading the Sharks in the right direction. When I went out and saw her run in high school, I was really impressed, but she has only gotten better. It’s a big award for her and the program.”
Moving on to the track season, Yanes is already proving to be a leader on the track for the Sharks as well, having won gold in both the 1500m and 5000m in two meets to date.
Coaches selected Paige Patterson of Saint Leo as SSC Runner of the Year following her win at the SSC Championship. Tampa’s Jarrett Slaven is honored as SSC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year.
To stay up with all the latest with the Sharks track and field and cross country teams, follow us on Twitter @NSU_XCTF, on Instagram @NSU_XCTF and on Facebook /NSUXCTF.

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Palm Named to SSC Cross Country All-Decade First Team

MELBOURNE, Fla. – As voted upon by league administrators and head coaches, former Nova Southeastern University cross country and track star Alexandria Palm has been officially named as a first-team member of the Sunshine State Conference Women’s Cross Country All-Decade Team on Monday, January 25.
Originally out of Winnebago, Illinois, Palm was one of the most prolific women’s distance runners in NSU’s history and held a firm command in the conference during the early part of the decade. She was not only on the Sunshine State Conference All-Championship Team each year, but also an All-SSC First Team honoree each year of her career at NSU (2010-13) – earning SSC Runner of the Year in 2013. In addition, Palm collected USTFCCCA (US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association) All-Region honors following all four seasons under head coach Bryan Hagopian.
“I graduated seven years ago and still fondly cherish all my memories, and am so grateful for my experiences at Nova Southeastern University,” Palm said. “Some of the best times of my life could not be possible without NSU, Coach Hagopian, and the support of the athletic department. However, I would not have become that accomplished athlete and student without the drive and support of my wonderful parents.”
Through her 24 career races, she collected six top-five finishes and seven top-10 finishes against an always-tough Florida-based field every time on the course. Palm finished her career with both the 5k (18:26.28) and 6k (21:50.00) NSU school records. Her medical training from NSU has helped make a difference in this past year’s adversity, recently taking over a trauma flight nurse position in northern California.
Kicking off her career with immediate accolades, Palm was named the 2010 SSC Freshman of the Year after finishing third as a rookie in 2010 at the SSC Championships and breaking both the 5k and 6k records at NSU. She was sixth in 2011 at the league meet as a sophomore, but captured the SSC Individual Championship her final two years – winning in both 2012 and 2013 – closing out with an NSU then-record 21:50.00 in the 6k.
Palm twice led NSU to the NCAA Division II National Championships. She placed third individually at the NCAA South Regional in 2012, leading NSU to a third-place team finish. In her final season, she finished as runner-up at the South Regional, again helping the Sharks to third place in the region. Her efforts also helped the Sharks to four consecutive SSC Runner-Up team finishes.
“She was one of the most gifted athletes I’ve ever coached,” Hagopian said.
“She had an unbelievable drive – hurt, sick, whatever, nothing was going to stop her from racing. A two-time conference champ in cross country and was a three-time captain. I’m proud of all of her accomplishments as well as what she has become as a medical professional. I can’t completely put into words how awesome I feel for her to receive this honor.”
Voters named 14 student-athletes from six programs as All-Decade honorees. Runner of the Decade honors went to Saint Leo University’s Colett Rampf, while the University of Tampa’s Jarrett Slaven earned Coach of the Decade. All-Decade voting took place among the league’s administrators and cross country coaches.
The 2010-19 SSC All-Decade awards include seven SSC Runner of the Year winners and three former Freshman of the Year honorees. Additionally, four women were recognized as All-SSC First Team four times, and seven were named First Team All-SSC three times.
SSC Women’s Cross Country from 2010 to 2019
Over the last 10 years, three SSC programs have hoisted the SSC meet trophy, led by Tampa with seven wins. Saint Leo won the conference title twice (2014 & 2016), and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University brought home one championship (2017). UT took home six consecutive regional championships (2010-14), while Saint Leo (2017) and Embry-Riddle (2018) both hang one banner. Four schools reached the NCAA finals site a total of 16 times over the past decade. Tampa made the finals seven times, including six straight from 2010 to 2015, followed by Saint Leo with five appearances. Nova Southeastern University and Embry-Riddle have represented the conference twice.
For a complete list of the SSC Women’s Cross Country All-Decade Teams, click here.
To stay up with all the latest with Sharks cross country and track and field, follow us on Twitter @NSU_XCTF, on Instagram @NSU_XCTF and on Facebook /NSUXCTF.

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