clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Everything You Need To Know About the 2023 UCF Cross Country Team

A new conference and a new coach await the cross country team

Noah Goldberg

The will be a different season for the UCF Knights’ Cross Country team for a variety of reasons.

There is the obvious one, a new conference. However, it also has a new coach and is not overwhelmingly made up of underclassmen runners as it has in the recent past.

So, here’s everything you need to know about the Knights for 2023.

How Cross Country Team Scoring Works

The top seven runners on a team are given points based on their finishing order in the race.

For Example:

1st Place: Runner A, UCF = 1 point

2nd Place: Runner B, Oklahoma State = 2 points

3rd Place: Runner C, Baylor= 3 points

The scores of the top seven runners from every team are added together and the lowest score wins. Essentially, the more runners finish in the front, the better.

Last Season

8th in the American Athletic Conference Championship

17th in NCAA South Regional

The 2022 season, the last with coach Bryan Jackson, was notable for the emergence of a pair of young runners who have already placed themselves in the program’s record books.

Isabella Richardson ran the program’s fastest 5K since 2016 while Penelope Sosa got an individual win at the FAU Invite.

While the Knights fell a few spots to 8th place in the AAC Championship, they also finished inside the Top 20 for a second consecutive season for the first time since the Anne-Marie Blaney days in 2013 and 2014.

This Season

For the first time in a couple of years, the underclassmen do not make up an overwhelming majority of the roster. Thus, the Knights will be returning plenty of experienced runners for their first season in the Big 12.

Who’s in Charge?

Bryan Harmon — 1st season at UCF

Bryan Harmon arrives at UCF from just up I-4 after serving as the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country head coach for Stetson since 2016.

Harmon helped the Hatters’ Women’s Cross Country team to NCAA Regional appearances in 2021 and 2022, including a 20th-place finish in 2022.

“I think anytime you look at an opportunity that looks too good to pass up, you shouldn’t pass it up,” Harmon said. “Getting an opportunity not only to come to a school who’s moving into the Big 12 and making that transition, obviously, that’s something that doesn’t just happen.”

Watch our preview interview with Coach Harmon below:

Runners to Watch

Isabella Richardson

Noah Goldberg

Last season, in just her second 5K on American soil, New Zealand native Isabella Richardson ran the 4th-fastest 5K time in program history (17:12.4), smashing the freshman record by over 30 seconds.

Penelope Sosa

Another freshman phenom from last season, Miami native Penelope Sosa ran the 12th-fastest 5K in program history on the same day Richardson set the new program freshman record. However, she followed that up with an individual first-place finish at the Florida Atlantic Invitational a couple of weeks later.

Mariana Rodriguez

Harmon said that Mariana Rodriguez was part of the team’s “front two” alongside Richardson.

Rodriguez has been with the Knights since the 2020-21 season after transferring in from Houston. She set new personal bests in both the 5K (18:14.9) and the 6K (22:26.9) last season.

Roster Breakdown

  • 6 Upperclassmen (1 Fifth-Year, 1 senior, 4 juniors)
  • 6 Sophomores
  • 4 Freshmen
  • 5 International Runners (England, Scotland, Germany and New Zealand)

2023 UCF Cross Country Roster

Name Year Hometown 2022 School 2022 Season Bests
Name Year Hometown 2022 School 2022 Season Bests
Andrea Ballestero So. Clearwater, Fla. UCF 5K: 18:28.0, 6K: 22:26.2
Abby Clements Fr. Pinellas Park, Fla. Osceola Fundamental HS 5K: 18:34.0
Charlotte Crook 5th Preston, England UCF 5K: 18:22.1
Alexandra Del Re Jr. Tequesta, Fla. UCF 5K: 18:12.0, 6K: 23:17.7
Karin Dobiasch Fr. Seefeld-Bayern, Germany N/A
Lillian Holtery Jr. Niceville, Fla. UCF 5K: 18:11.2, 6K: 21.23.2
Kendall Hughes So. Brandon, Fla. UCF 5K: 20:00.2
Paige Jaszczak So. Mims, Fla. UCF 5K: 18:40.4
Riley Jaszczak So. Mims, Fla. UCF 5K: 18:35.4, 6K: 22:44.2
Brenna Mullaney Jr. Severna Park, Md. UCF 5K: 18:33.6, 6K: 23:43.2
Issabella Richardson So. Auckland, New Zealand UCF 5K: 17:12.4, 6K: 21:56.6
Mariana Rodriguez Sr. San Antonio, Texas UCF 5K: 18:14.9, 6K: 22:26.0
Penelope Sosa So. Miami, Fla. UCF 5K: 17:46.1, 6K: 21:33.41
Abigail Stratton Fr. Colne, England Colne Park HS N/A
Hannah Taylor Fr. Aberdeen, Scotland Ellon Academy N/A
Camryn Williams Jr. Keystone Heights, Fla. UCF 5K: 18:34.2, 6K: 24:23.0

Schedule Breakdown

The Knights’ regular season has contracted to three meets this season, though both the FAU Invite and the Arturo Barrios Invitational return to the schedule from 2022. The team also will not need to leave the state for the NCAA South Regional, which is going to be held at the Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville.

2023 UCF Cross Country Schedule

Date Day Time Meet Location Host School 2022 Team Result Team Average Time (Distance)
Date Day Time Meet Location Host School 2022 Team Result Team Average Time (Distance)
Sep. 1 Friday 6:30 p.m. Florida Atlantic Invitational Boca Raton, FL FAU 1st 18:31 (5K)
Sep. 30 Saturday 10:15 a.m. Louisville Classic Louisville, KY Louisville N/A N/A
Oct. 13 Friday 10:15 a.m. Arturo Barrios Invitational College Station, TX Texas A&M 13th 22:17.44 (6K)
Oct. 28 Saturday 12:00 p.m. Big 12 Championship Ames, IA Iowa State N/A N/A
Nov. 10 Friday TBA NCAA South Regional Championship Gainesville, FL Florida 17th 22:07 (6K)
Nov. 18 Saturday TBA NCAA Cross Country Championship Charlottesville, VA Virginia N/A N/A

The Last Time...

UCF had 3 consecutive Top 20 finishes in NCAA South Regional: 2006-2008.

UCF finished Top 5 in Conference Championship Meet: 2020 (Delayed by COVID).

UCF finished Top 3 in Conference Championship Meet: 2002.