Ready to Run

Nov. 13, 2013

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By Jennifer Clark

ORLANDO, Fla. ( – After a program-best finish at the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship, UCF cross country continues its postseason run at the NCAA South Region Championship this Friday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

“Just do your best, and if the girls go out and make nationals then they’re going to be happy,” said assistant coach Johnny Gray. “It’s just a matter of doing your best, which they should because I’m backing them off now. We’re looking to run fast now. Now it’s time to peak and get great times. We’ve been doing it off tired legs, so let’s see what we can do on fresher legs.”

The meet, which is hosted by University of Alabama, will take place on Nov. 15 at Harry Pritchett Running Park. The women’s race will begin at 11:15 a.m.

The regional is a 6K race, an event that the Knights conquered earlier this month at The American Championship, where sophomore Anne-Marie Blaney won individuals to help push UCF to a fourth place finish.

The race will consist of 225 athletes from 35 teams in the southern region, including programs like Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt and American rivals Memphis and USF. 

“The NCAAs is just what fans look at,” said Gray on UCF making nationals. “Of course, that’s the team’s goal also, but before you can go out and worry about making the NCAAs, you have to do your best. If you do your best, then you’ll get in where you fit in. You’ll fall where you may, and that may be NCAAs. That’s what you hope for. When I competed, I didn’t’ compete to say I’m going to go make the Olympic team. I competed to do my best, and my best got me on the team.”

The Knights will be led by Blaney, who set new personal and school records at the American Championship with her time of 20:19.45.

“Anne has a great shot at making nationals,” Gray said of Blaney. “She took 24th at conference last year and won this year, so whatever last year was, we’re blocking that out. Her chances are great this year. Heather (Classe) improved tremendously. She has a great shot. They’ve both improved, and they both have a great shot at making nationals. If we could put two girls in nationals, that would be great.”

Blaney will be accompanied by a trio of sophomores with Heather Classe, Jocelin Adona and Alyssa Hamel. Junior Amelia Williams be competing as well. Senior Erica Winston will round out the UCF lineup.

“A lot of kids are excited about what they’re reading about the cross country team,” Gray remarked. “They see the kids are getting better. They see everyone talking about the program. They’re happy with the change, and what they’re seeing from the change. Like what we did at conference, everybody from the fifth girl up set personal records. And, that’s what sports is about, personal records. If you can compete against yourself and prevail, then you may find yourself competing against the world and prevailing. We have to take care of self first. If we do that, then we will get better.”

For more information on the NCAA South Region Championship, including schedule, course map, and results visit the championship central page at visit