by Sydney Rhodes
The University of Tampa women’s cross country team took the Sunshine State Conference (SSC) Cross Country Championship trophy home on Saturday, Oct. 26. The Spartans beat Saint Leo University with an 11 point difference, 34-35, as they raced eight other teams within the SSC in Boca Raton, Florida.
With four Spartans placing in the top 10 individuals of the race, the women recorded their second consecutive SSC win and the 15th conference title in Tampa women’s cross country history.
Junior, Zoe Jarvis claimed the Conference Champion individual title, recording a time of 22:18.2 in the 6,000-meter.
“Individually, winning Conference was kind of a shock,” said Jarvis. “I couldn’t believe that I had won and it was an amazing experience. Scoring four of our runner in the top 10 was also great.”
Freshman, Aspen Gordon followed Jarvis to place second individually with a time of 22:28.9.
“Going into Conference, we all wanted to go in prepared for the competition, but also knew we were capable and ready to race well,” said Gordon. “We were all excited about winning and want to carry that same mindset for Regionals.”
Juniors, Sydney Rhodes and Monika Brill, crossed the line in sixth and ninth place, logging times of 23:03.2 and 23:30.2. Senior, Madison Mimnaugh, was the fifth Spartan to score for the team, placing 16th in a time of 23:55.2.
“I wouldn’t change anything [about this race],” said Brill. “I’m happy and proud of us because we have been doing so well as a team and this race was a nice reassurance that we are ready for Regionals.”
Previously this Fall, Tampa won the Valdosta State Invitational, placed first in the Division II section of the Mt. Dew Invitational as well as the Florida State Invitational, and finished the Division II Capital Cross Country (Pre-National) Invitational in an admirable 13th place.
“I’ve really enjoyed being able to travel and race with my team against many different DI and DII teams from all over the country,” said Gordon. “Some of the most exciting parts of the season, personally and I think for all of us, was placing well at Pre-Nationals and obviously winning Conference since we’re in post-season and races are getting more serious.”
Up next, the women will run the NCAA Division II South Regional in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday, Nov. 9. The race will determine if the Spartans will compete at the NCAA Division II National Championships in Sacramento, California on Saturday, Nov. 23. In order to do so, the women must place within the top three teams at Regionals.
“In order to prepare for Regionals, we are working on getting to know [which competitors] we have to stick with from other teams,” said Brill. “We have to ensure that we have more runners ahead of other teams’ top five girls, for scoring purposes.”
Nineteen teams will compete at Regionals. Some of Tampa’s biggest competitors will include: Lee University, Union University, University of Alabama Huntsville, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Saint Leo University, and Florida Southern College.
“I’m excited to see how far all of our hard work this season can get us,” said Gordon. “Everyone just needs to keep encouraging the team, stay healthy, and keep a good mindset.”
Sydney Rhodes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org