USF’s Bente General took fourth place Saturday at the NCAA South Regional cross country championships to earn a spot in the NCAA championships on Nov. 24.
General was one of three women to reach the top 20 for USF, but the Bulls managed just eighth in the 25-team women’s field, from which Tennessee emerged the victor.
“I’m just really proud of Bente and what she’s done,” USF assistant coach Rita Arndt said. “I don’t think a lot of people really appreciate what she’s done. She has gone from being a mid-distance runner on a school-record setting relay team, and obviously added long-distance running to her repertoire.
“And the beauty of being a distance runner is that she still has one more fall and two more spring seasons ahead of her to get even better here.”
Christa Benton and Jessica Hellender finished 12th and 19th, respectively, to give USF three All-Region runners. The team was hurt, however, when Sara Hall and Kristen Puolos took 92nd and 111th.
“We knew we weren’t going to qualify (for the NCAA championships) as a team, so we used this meet as an opportunity to measure ourselves against some excellent competition,” Arndt said. “And now we don’t have any excuses. We aren’t going to be the young team reverting to excuses next year. We will have more experience and more leadership and I will definitely expect more from them next season.
“Of course, I would have liked to see them do better. Christa Benton is a returning All-American, and I would have liked to see her qualify. But, for the most part, we were happy with our performance.”
The USF men, who took 11th out of 21 teams, were led by senior Adam Chumbley, who finished his collegiate career with a 20th-place finish. Georgia placed five runners in the top 15 to win the men’s title. Also reaching the top 25 for the Bulls was Sean Burris in 24th place.
“For Sean and Adam to both be named All-Region is fantastic,” Arndt said. “The men are in the same position the women are. They hopefully learned a lot from this meet, and can improve from here. Derek Lincoln, for example, is another mid-distance runner who converted and he went out and ran a (personal best), which is a great thing to do at the regionals.
“This meet gave both teams a lot to look forward to, and I am really excited about what we can do in the future, where we can go from here.”