BRANDON, Fla. – In what was one of the most exciting finishes at the NCAA South Region meet, Saint Leo University's Tereza Novotna, the current Sunshine State Conference Runner and Freshman of the Year, edged Tampa's Jessica Butler by tenths of a second to claim the runner-up position. Novotna's finish earned her a spot in the NCAA National Meet on November 19 in Spokane, Wash.
Taking on the Dover Park course for the second time this season, the Lions' talented freshman tamed the 6K course with a time of 22:11. The second-place showing is the highest finish of any Saint Leo runner at the NCAA's, and also marks the first time in program history the team will send a runner to compete in the NCAA National Championships.
"I know I wanted to stay in the lead group if I wanted a chance at Nationals," said Novotna. "The thought of crossing the tape got me through this race."
It's the fourth time this season the Opocno, Czech Republic native earned a top-five finish.
Also posting a solid showing was junior Jillian Browne. Browne tabulated a closing time of 24:15, two seconds behind Nova Southeastern's Brittaney Smash. Moments later, the freshmen pair of Holly Blackburn and Amanda Leon secured times of 25:55 and 26.07.
Overall, Tampa claimed the title as they finished with a score of 28 points. The Spartans also added an individual medalist as Heather Nicolosi took the field by 28 seconds. Saint Leo was 12th as a team.
Novotna will now travel to Spokane, Wash. where she will compete in the 2011 NCAA National run, which is set for Saturday, November 19, in Spokane, Wash. Stay current with SaintLeoLions.com for news, updates, and information on the men's and women's cross country teams.