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Eckerd's Fagen runs to SSC title

Kim Fagen broke away from the pack after 100 yards and then set a course record in helping the Tritons win the school's first-ever Sunshine State Conference women's cross-country title Saturday on the Eckerd campus. Fagen pushed herself throughout the 5K race (3.1 miles), finishing with in personal best 17 minutes, 43 seconds, 2:06 ahead of second-place finisher Diane Ellsworth of Eckerd (19:49). Fagen shattered the old Eckerd course record of 18:24 set last year by former University of Tampa runner Maureen Fusco.

Gunnar Svendsen, a sophomore at the University of Tampa, won the men's 10K race in 34:41 _ his first individual win of the season. Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) won the men's title with 48 points, edging out second-place Eckerd (50) and third-place Tampa (54).

The Eckered women placed five runners in the top 10 to gain all-conference status including Fagen, Ellsworth, third-place Amy Brown, eight-place Nicole McCutchan, and ninth-place Suzy Fernandes.

But Fagen was in a class of her own.

"I was thinking if I could get 18:10, I would be happy," said the junior, a former standout at Gibbs High. "I just felt strong all the way through."

"She went after the course record," said Eckerd women's coach Peter Eagleson. "There was no other strategy. Just win the race and go for the record."

Svendsen, a resident of St. Petersburg, slept in late and did not arrive at the course until 25 minutes before the start of the men's race. That didn't seem to bother him.

"I just wanted to stay with the front of the pack," he said. "We took off pretty quickly and I was surprised with my time at the first mile (5:15). I thought we would be slower than that."

Svendsen broke away from teammate and second-place finisher Dave Shilkitus at the four-mile mark.