SUNRISE, Fla. - In 2010, the Saint Leo women's cross country team earned its first-ever All-Tournament showing at the Sunshine State Conference Championships. In 2011, the women made one more giant leap in the race for conference glory as Tereza Novotna clinched first-place in the 2011 SSC Championships with a 6K time of 21:44.60, Saturday morning from Markham Park.
Novotna, a two-time SSC Runner of the Week in 2011, snapped the program record for a 6K time as she finished four seconds ahead of the next closest competitor in the 52-person field.
It's the best finish for any Lions' competitor at the SSC Championships. The win also marks the first time a Lion has claimed medalist honors at any event.
The team finished the run in fourth-place, accumulating 97 points. The total was only three points shy of fourth-place Florida Tech.
On the performance, Coach Melissa Miller-Mangen stated, "Tereza ran a very smart race. It could have been any of the top finisher, but she (Tereza) settled, was mentally tough and responded well to surges."
However, it was a solid team effort which saw the Lions nearly crack the top-three.
Jillian Browne impressed as she finished just 30 seconds outside a top-10 finish, closing her race at 24:03.84.
Outside of Novotna, Amanda Leon was the highest-finishing freshman for the Lions as she clocked with a time 24:57.98. Holly Blackburn finished just outside the top half of the field as she closed with a time of 26:05.29.
Overall, Tampa won its fifth straight Sunshine State Conference Women's Cross Country Championship.
The Spartans tallied 29 points to claim their eighth conference title in nine years. Host Nova Southeastern registered 69 points to finish second. Florida Tech placed third with 94 points. Florida Southern (105) and Rollins (114) rounded out the standings.
Tampa's Jess Butler was second with a mark of 21:48.06. Florida Tech's Nicole Clarke placed third in a time of 21:56.60. UT rounded out the top-five with Heather Nicolosi (22:08.69) and Kaia Hampton (22:50.17) finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
The Lions will now begin preparations for the final meet of the 2011 season as they will compete in the NCAA South Region 8K race on Saturday, November 5. Stay current with SaintLeoLions.com for news, updates, and information on the cross country team.