By COURTNEY HART
Lars Benner is not only a senior at UT studying molecular biology with a 4.0 GPA, he is also an important runner on the cross country team.
Benner has had a successful season so far with some key highlights this season include placing fifth at the FSU Invitational and ninth at the USF Invitational, where there were over one hundred runners competing.
In the USF Invite, Benner’s ninth place finish helped secure a fifth place finish for UT.
Benner did not get involved in running until his freshmen year of high school. His father interested him in the sport during the off-season of basketball.
“I was mainly a basketball player in high school,” Benner said. “But I needed something to do during the off-season and my dad ran cross country, so he was the main one that encouraged me to go through with it.”
Benner enjoys running cross country because of the friends that he has made through the process and the health benefits.
Although Benner believes rituals to be superstitious, he usually does a set of drills to warm up before meets that his coach taught him.
When it comes to racing, Benner stated that he does not get fatigued because of the good training plans that his coach gives him, as well as the support that he receives from his teammates.
“The camaraderie built between teammates who try to push themselves and each other to peak physiological performance for a common goal is something special to be a part of,” Benner said.
Benner’s teammates have played a huge part in his collegiate cross country career and he appreciates them pushing him during each practice and race.
“My teammates are critical to my success because they push me to maximize my potential in races and practices,” Benner said. “Especially my teammates Cory Munsch, Joe Maus, Joe Weber, and Mitch Arnold.”
For training for the 8K races, which is typical distance in cross country, Benner and his teammates will either do easier runs on Davis Island, exercises on the track, or will partake in longer runs at nearby parks and trails on the weekends.
Benner decided to attend UT because it was the perfect fit for what he wanted to get out of his college education.
“I picked UT because of the great academics, specifically for the opportunity to undergo scientific research,” Benner said. “As well as the solid cross country and track program that they have at this school.”
After graduating in the spring, Benner hopes to take some time off to do research assistance and then attend graduate school to study cancer genetics.
With the final season being completed, the men’s cross country team competed in the 2016 Sunshine State Conference (SSC) this past Saturday, October 22nd, in Melbourne, Fla. where Benner placed 12th with a time of 25:48.
Regionals will be the next step for the men’s cross country team, which will take place on Saturday, Nov. 5 at St. Leo University.
Courtney Hart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org