By Amanda Baxter
The University of Tampa women’s cross country team won their 16th Sunshine State Conference (SSC) Title on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
UT now has more SSC titles than any other women’s cross country team in the conference. This marks the third consecutive year that the Spartans have won the title.
Tampa finished with three women placing in the top 10 spots and seven finishing in the top 20. Senior Zoe Jarvis took home 3rd place as she led the Spartans with a time of 23:10.93. The team finished with a score of 41, which was 29 points ahead of any other group.
Head Coach Jarrett Slaven is glad to see the team’s hard work pay off.
“I am very proud of these athletes, and the conference title was a great feeling for all of us,” said coach Slaven.
In a typical year, the team would advance to run at regionals and nationals, with about seven races leading up to the conference meet. Due to COVID-19, this season looked different for the Spartans. They only competed in three meets, including the 6k(3.72 miles) conference championships meet.
Besides the ongoing impact of coronavirus, the team also faced other obstacles as they competed for the title.
“The weather was not conducive to a good cross country meet,” said Slaven. It was very hot and humid, but the team pulled together, and the result was a win.”
One way the team stayed competitive this season was by having a practice meet amongst themselves.
“On one occasion, we divided the team into red jerseys and black jerseys and had our own competition,” said Sentner. “The girls are very competitive, and when they come together, it makes for a wonderful team.
Freshman Anna Sentner placed 8th in her first championship meet.
“Joining a program like Tampa’s that has a tradition of earning SSC XC Championship Titles made it even more meaningful to win one with my team because I am contributing to our team’s success along with those before me,” said freshman Anna Sentner.
As a new runner for the Spartans, Sentner relied heavily on her teammates’ motivation to help lead to her success.
“At the conference meet, I was fortunate enough to be able to run next to my captain, Sydney Rhodes, who finished one place ahead of me. When one of us sensed the other was tiring, we were able to keep each other from falling back,” said Sentner.
Senior captain Sydney Rhodes prevailed to place 7th overall, contributing to the Spartans’ win.
Sophomore, Aspen Gordon who placed 11th overall, is motivated by her teammates and her coach.
“They all keep me going and remind me I have more to work for than just personal goals; I have goals with them as a team as well.“ said Gordon.
Gordon was on track to becoming an All-American last year as a freshman. However, she got injured just after running in the conference meet and ran with hurt foot through regionals and nationals.
Due to COVID-19, Gordon is given an extra year of eligibility that she will use to run at UT for three more years and has high expectations for herself and the team.
“I want to look back on my time competing here and know I ran to the best of my ability with the help of my coaches and teammates,” said Gordon.