Cross Country Starts Season Strong at FAU Invitational

by Alex Clough

ORLANDO – In its first race as a member of the Big 12, the UCF cross country squad under first-year distance coach Bryan Harmon placed second at the FAU Invitational with 53 points. Racing in the 5k alongside 17 other programs, the Knights saw big performances from veterans Mariana Rodriguez and Lillian Holtery, along with freshman Isabella Richardson.

We had a great race today at FAU, I thought the team was very tough and showed some great signs to open the season. The twins [Riley and Paige Jaszczak] were great, they didn’t get passed all race and the front three also put in great performances. We have a lot to build on but overall I’ve very pleased with the toughness of the squad tonight.

Bryan Harmon

Following the short trip to the South County Regional Park in Boga Raton, Florida, the Knights got their 2023 campaign underway with three top-ten finishes. In her last collegiate cross-country season, Rodriguez led the way for the Black and Gold, running 18:23.55. The time is her second best as a member of UCF following her transfer from Houston in 2020.


After a standout first season with the Knights, Richardson ran an 18:25.33 to claim eighth place. After breaking the UCF freshman 5k record with her 17:12.40 performance at the North Alabama Showcase on Sept. 16, 2022, the New Zealand native’s time bests her previous opening mark of 18:28.90.


Rounding out the three-knight punch was Holtery who ran an 18:28.90 to place in ninth. The junior ran her second-best career performance with UCF, trailing only her 18:11.2 time at the North Alabama Showcase. Three other Knights landed among the top 20, including Ali Del Re (18:43.96), Riley Jaszczak (18:54.80), and Paige Jaszczak (18:54.88).


Abby Clements was the lone freshman who made their UCF debut tonight, as she ran a 19:14.70 to claim 26th. After missing the 2023 Track and Field season, Charlotte Crook returned to the course with a time of 19:41.01 and a 35th-place finish.


For the full results, click here.


After the lone in-state meet of the regular season, the Knights will depart Florida for the Louisville Classic in Kentucky on Saturday, September 30.