Cross Country Primed for Inaugural Big 12 Championship

by Alex Clough

ORLANDO – A year of firsts has made for a promising inaugural season as a member of the Big 12. With multiple personal records and breakouts to build upon, the UCF women’s cross country team is set for the Big 12 Championship Saturday afternoon in Ames, Iowa. Twelve programs, including the four newcomers, will each look to top reigning champion Oklahoma State, as it’s on the verge of a third consecutive title. The women's race will begin at noon ET following the conclusion of the men's at 11 a.m. ET.

The 2023 Championship will be streamed on ESPN+, with live results available here.

For first-year distance coach Bryan Harmon, who arrived at UCF from Stetson where he served as head coach for the cross-country program, Saturday will serve as an opportunity to get the Big 12 familiar with the Knights. The Black and Gold enter the race in good form following a strong performance at the Arturo Barrios Invitational.

Eight Knights set personal records in the 6k, with Isabella Richardson and Mariana Rodriguez leading the pack with two top-10 all-time performances. The New Zealand native’s time of 20:57.2 marked the eighth-best in program history as Richardson finished among the top 75 in each race this season.

Mariana Rodriguez, embarking on her final cross-country season, has been a leader for a young Knights squad, and her performances on the course have served as a testament. In College Station, Texas, her time of 21:00.9 was the 10th-best all-time a sign of the growth that has propelled the squad down the stretch.

Penelope Sosa and Lillian Holtery have shown their consistency thus far, as both continue to prove their versatility on the course and the track. Holtery was among the eight Knights who set new personal records at the Arturo Barrios Invitational with her time of 21:21.3 as she crossed the finish line third for UCF.

Since 2018, Charlotte Crook has been the representation of what it means to compete for the Knights. Following a shortened 2022 campaign due to injury, the England native has fully integrated herself back into a young squad, adding the experience that has been crucial in the team’s first season in the Big 12. Her record in the 6k was also set in Texas, with her time of 21:38.3 marking the fourth best on the season for UCF.

Twins, Paige and Riley Jaszczak have advanced in their sophomore season. Their three performances this season have been separated by just six minutes and 46 seconds combined. At the FAU Invitational, Paige finished in 18:54.9, while Riley trailed just behind with a time of 18:54.8.

The entry list is as follows: Isabella Richardson, Mariana Rodriguez, Lillian Holtery, Charlotte Crook, Penelope Sosa, Ali Del Re, Paige Jaszczak, Riley Jaszczak, Abby Clements, and Brenna Mullaney.

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