No excuses this time

Bente General took 126th at the NCAA cross country championships in what USF assistant coach Rita Arndt reluctantly called a learning experience.

“You hate to use the fact that this was Bente’s first time at nationals as an excuse,” Arndt said. “But the reality is, everyone faces first-time jitters. I expected her to do a little better, but coming up here by herself, when she is used to having her team around at the front of the pack, was very different for her.

“All-American status is a pretty lofty goal, but I thought, and I still think, that it is a realistic one. This meet will be a learning experience for her. And next year, or even in the spring, she will be better because of it.”

General did not achieve All-American status, which is given to the meet’s top 25 American-born finishers and foreign-born runners who finish in the top 25 overall.

The meet, held in Cedar Falls, Iowa, was run in cold weather, which General said affected her performance.

Cold weather will often harden the ground, making the course more difficult for runners. The climate change is especially hard on runners from warm-weather states such as Florida.

General, who is also a distance runner on the USF track team, was the lone USF representative at the meet.

Arndt said track will remain a primary focus for General, who has a head start on spring competition.

“The beauty of what Bente has done is that cross country is only half her arsenal,” said Arndt, who is also the distance and mid-distance coach for USF’s track team. “She will be ready to go when the track season starts, and I expect great things from her.

“This is really her first season training for cross country, and she has already come so far.”