By: Shane Petagna
UT’s Women’s Cross Country team has gotten off to a hot start to their season. On Friday, Sept. 3, the Spartans traveled north across state lines into southern Georgia to compete against nine other teams in the 5k race at the annual Valdosta State Border Clash.
The team that was voted as the best in the SSC coaches preseason poll lived up to expectations, finishing second as a team with some stellar individual performances.
Senior Zoe Jarvis finished the race first overall with a time of 18:54.3, adding another accomplishment to her illustrious resume. Jarvis, a native of Tampa, notched her fifth first place overall finish of her collegiate career, and it was the second time she placed first at the Valdosta State Border Clash, doing so previously in 2018.
Jarvis, who was also the 2019 Sunshine State Conference Runner of the Year, crossed the finish line 15 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
“I was not feeling my best at Valdosta,” said Jarvis. “But I was able to push through and have a great race.” S
he was not the only one to think she had a great race. After her performance, Jarvis was named SSC Runner of the Week by the league office on Monday, Sept. 6. Jarvis has now won the award a total of six times in her career.
Other notable finishes by the Spartans include sophomore Anna Sentner’s time of 19:11.4, which netted her a third place finish overall. Along with Jarvis and Sentner, five other Spartans finished in the top twenty for the race. Senior Sydney Rhodes, sophomore Aspen Gordon, and senior Monika Brill finished ninth, tenth, and 11th, respectively. Rhodes finished with a time of 19:26.9, Gordon finished with a time of 19:30.6, and Brill finished with a time of 19:37.2.
Two Spartan freshmen put forth an impressive performance in their first-ever collegiate race. Tabitha Suggs, another Tampa native- like Zoe Jarvis, finished 15th overall with a time of 20:08.6. Laura McGregor, hailing from Farmington, Minnesota, placed 17th overall with her time of 20:09.6, rounding out the top 7 runners whose times counted towards the scoring in the team standings.
The Spartans look to build off the success of their first meet of the Fall 2021 season, as they travel to Gainesville for the Mountain Dew Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 11. Competition for the Spartans in the month of September will round out the following week on Friday, Sept. 17 in Tallahassee for the FSU Cross Country Open.
“We are very good this year,” said Jarvis. “We are in a great position as a team and I am confident we can win the conference.”
There’s still a bit of time until the SSC Championships in late October, but it’s hard to argue against the senior leader’s prediction after the Spartans’ showing last weekend. The Spartans are not afraid of the expectations put on them by others or by themselves and look forward to rising to the occasion at each meet.