The Southern Miss cross country team had its first test of the season at the Commodore Classic in Nashville, Tennessee, on Saturday, Sept. 15.
The Golden Eagles, ranked No. 10 in the South Region, saw stiff competition. Some notable teams in attendance were Ohio State, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Lipscomb, Xavier (Ohio), Clemson and Louisville. Middle Tennessee and UAB were Conference USA teams that were also in attendance.
Junior Sandra Szpott led the way for Southern Miss in her debut with the team, finishing in 12th place with a time of 17:49.
“I’m really pleased with today’s effort,” Head Coach Aaron Kindt said. “The team ran really hard as a group and were a strong pack led by Sandra Szpott. She ran a very strong first race as a Golden Eagle despite having a long track season and with not a whole lot as far as training for this season.”
Behind her was sophomore Kate Mattox, who also made her first appearance of the season. Mattox finished in 26th place with a time of 18:20.
“Kate Mattox also ran a good race coming off an abbreviated summer and not a lot of training after a long track season; she ran a gutsy race,” Kindt said.
Rounding out the top five for the team was junior Monika Gebarzewska who finished 33rd with a time of 18:28. Freshman Lina May ran 18:39 and junior Emma Kate Holdbrooks ran 18:43 to finish 49th and 53rd, respectively.
“Lina May our No. 4 ran a heck of a race in the conditions we had today,” Kindt said. “To be top-50 in a field like this in a big college invitational is really impressive, and I’m really excited about her future. Monika Gebarzewska is coming into her own, it’s huge for us for her to place 33rd as you can see her confidence and belief in herself growing.”
Other Southern Miss results of note include junior Regen McGee, who finished 65th while running a time of 18:55 and junior Theresa Harto, who placed 78th running a time of 19:25 to close out the top seven.
Southern Miss scored 173 points to finish eighth out of 19 teams. Southern Miss placed ahead of Louisville and also beat Middle Tennessee (10th) and UAB (16th). Ohio State won the meet with 105 overall points.
Southern Miss will return to action on Sept. 28 as they traveled to South Bend, Indiana, to compete in the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational.