UCF20231028Women_1656 (1)UCF20231028Women_1656 (1)

Cross Country Travels to Gainesville for NCAA South Regional Championships

by Alex Clough

ORLANDO – Following a promising inaugural Big 12 Championship, the Knights now set their sights on qualification for the NCAA Championship. The UCF women’s cross country team is primed for the NCAA South Regional Championships, hosted by the University of Florida in Gainesville, Friday morning. Thirty programs, including the likes of in-state opponents Florida State, Miami, and the Gators, will each look to top reigning champion Alabama. The women's 6k race will begin at 8:30 a.m.

The 2023 championship will be streamed on YouTube, with live results available here.

The Knights finished in 11th place at the conference championship in Ames, Iowa, just two weeks ago. The newcomers impressed among a difficult field with multiple top-25 ranked programs including eventual champion BYU, Oklahoma State, and the hosts, Iowa State. UCF topped Oklahoma, Houston, and Baylor with 262 points in the frigid conditions at the Iowa State Cross Country Course.

Isabella Richardson and Mariana Rodriguez led the way with two performances to build on ahead of regionals. Richardson rounded out the top 50 with a strong race, crossing the finish line with a time of 21:25.8. The New Zealand native notched the eight-best 6k performance in program history in the regular-season finale at the Arturo Barrios Invitational with a time of 20:57.2, a personal record for the sophomore.

In each race this season, where you see Richardson, you’ll surely see Rodriguez as the Texas native is having an outstanding final season in Black and Gold. She was just a few strides behind Richardson in Ames, placing 51st with a time of 21:27.8 after running a top 10 all-time performance of her own at Texas A&M, clocking a time of 21:00.9. 

Among other Knights who will be competing Friday morning, Penelope Sosa, Lillian Holtery, and Charlotte Crook will each add to a strong lineup. Each finished in the top 100 at the Big 12 Championships. Crook, embarking on her final collegiate season, has been a leader for a young team, and her performances this season have led by example. She was one of eight Knights who set personal records at the Arturro Barrio Invitational with a time of 21:38.3.

Ali Del Re and Abby Clements, who has had an outstanding freshman campaign, will round out the seven-athlete squad who will be at the starting line in Gainesville.

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