Cross Country finishes season at NCAA Regional

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Pictured: Sandra Szpott Photo by: Andrew Abadie

The Southern Miss cross country team finished in 11th place in the NCAA South Regional 6K race in Tallahassee, Florida.

The team set a school record with its lowest score in a regional with 248 points, which breaks the 333-point record set in 2016.

“We had a pretty good team day,” Head Coach Aaron Kindt said. “We were right there with a bunch of the teams ahead of us and we feel really good about today. We ran much better than we did at the Conference Meet.”

Junior Sandra Szpott led the team at the regional, as she earned the highest place in school history at 13th place while running a 20:59. Her finish breaks Stephanie Legerwood’s 15th place finish place set in 2012. Szpott’s top-25 finish had her named to the All-Region team.

“Sandra had a breakout day, falling just seconds short of being an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Championships,” Kindt said. “She had a huge day.”

Sophomore Kate Mattox followed Szpott, running a 21:24 and finishing in 33rd place.

“Kate also had a big day, she’s been battling and working her way through this season and I think she’s got a lot of confidence going into the winter and preparing for the indoor season,” Kindt said. “There’s a lot of racing left to do for her.”

Finishing in the top five for Southern Miss were junior Emma Kate Holdbrooks, senior Monika Gerbarzewska and junior Regen McGee. Holdbrooks finished in 59th place running 22:00,  Gerbarzewska ran 22:08 to finish in 66th place and McGee finished in 77th place while running a time of 22:28.

“Emma Kate had a solid day and a big year,” Kindt said. “For someone who was a fringe role player last year to being such a huge help on the team this year; she’s improved a lot. Monika and Regen closed it out for us and I’m proud of this team.” 

Freshman Lina May and junior Theresa Harto ran 22:40 and 23:30 to finish in 86th and 120th place, respectively.

Winning the meet was Florida State with 60 points and finishing as the runner-up was Florida with 64 points.  Finishing ahead of Southern Miss was Conference USA opponent Middle Tennessee in ninth place and Lispcomb in 10th place. Southern Miss placed better than Auburn in 12th place, Mississippi State in 13th place and also beat C-USA teams Florida International, University of Alabama-Birmingham and Florida Atlantic.

“They showed they could compete against some of the top teams nationally and this was a great way to end the cross country season and going into track,” Kindt said. “We’re in a great spot and I’m really excited about what we can accomplish.”

Southern Miss will start its indoor track season at the UAB Vulcan Invitational in Birmingham, Alabama on Jan. 11, 2019.