USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - Future cross country teams have a lot to live up to after the Bulls left a super-sized imprint on the program this season.
The USF women's team posted its best-ever finish at the Big East Championships (eighth place) and ran to the highest program mark at the NCAA South Regional (11th place) since an eighth place finish in 2003. USF also had an All-Region selection (Allie Prendergast) and won two meets to start the year.
"Definitely I'll remember it forever in my coaching history books just because of the group they are," coach Dena Reif said.
The USF men fared pretty well, too, despite being without top runner Phillip Wise because of an injury. The Bulls tied their top program mark of 12th place at the Big East Championships and collected four finishes in the top 10 at meets.
"It's exciting to go through a year and finish well all the way through," Reif said.
Reif certainly won't forget the USF women's team that graduates six seniors. Prendergast, Yasmin Smith and Devin Spoerle all ran in the top five through the entire season, while Christine Johnston, Shaniel Chambers and Rachel Etiene provided strong support.
"A great finish to the four years they've been here," Reif said. "I think their senior year, they have all wanted to come together and do well."
Prendergast led the way from start to finish and ended her college cross country career by finishing in 18th place at the NCAA South Regional.
"She wasn't anybody I had to worry about getting in there and competing with the best," Reif said. "She knew that she could do that and she got out there and tried every time."
The USF men got a pleasant surprise when sophomore Connor Bauer led them in each meet this season. Bauer set a personal record at the Big East Championships by running the 8K course in Louisville, Ky., in 25:45.
"Connor has done an amazing job," Reif said. "He really came in ready for that challenge to be our No. 1 this year. He took the challenge and ran with it every time."
The future might be very bright for a young men's team that now features Bauer and could have Wise back if he gets into graduate school. Wise, a senior, was USF's No. 1 runner in each of his previous seasons with the program.
"It was definitely a challenge with the group being a lot younger and not having his leadership because he is such a leader," Reif said. "I think having him back next year would be a great impact."