Sandra Szpott is going to take a two-week break from running.
Garden City Community College’s sophomore long distance star has earned it.
In Saturday’s NJCAA cross country championships in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Szpott made program history, becoming the first Buster ever to place second in the NJCAA event. Szpott traversed the 5-kilometer course at the Lakeside Golf Course in 17 minutes, 43.9 seconds, just behind medalist Adva Cohen of Iowa Central’s 17:24.4.
“I knew there were five really good girls (in the race), and when I finished, I was really shocked I was second,” Szpott said Monday, the first day of her well-deserved break from running.
Don’t worry too much, though, she said she’d still be weight training.
“I was really shocked, but happy,” she said.
The best part of it was that Szpott edged Colby’s Winnie Kibet, who had beat Szpott twice during the 2017 season, including at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course in the regional meet. But Buffalo Dunes’ hills are what did in Szpott in that race, she admitted, and the course Saturday was a bit more flat.
“The golf course was really good for me,” she said. “I did beat the girl from Colby, so I was happy. She beat me two times, and I never beat her — I beat her in the national finals.”
The placing also meant Szpott was a first-team All-American, alongside the four other top-five finishers. That’s back-to-back All-American honors for the sophomore who finished third at the NJCAA Championships a season before while with New Mexico Military Institute.
Szpott’s finish led the Buster women to a 27th-place finish with 747 points. Iowa Central won the team championship with 52 points.
Hannah Roemer finished in 127th for the Busters in 20:30.7, and Lordes Covarrubias was 197th in 21:41.4. Rounding out their top-five scores were Zoe Engler (23:26.8) in 271st and Ann-Marie Jones (24:14.3) in 282nd of the 311-runner field.
The Buster men took 39th as a team, led by Jesse Bebb’s 166th-place finish in 27:58.5. Oscar Guzman was 199th in 28:27.9, Edgar Avalos was 243rd (29:06.6) Alejandro Aguilar (29:30.9) 258th and Alex Narrette (30:16.7) 280th to round out the Busters’ five counting scores.
The Iowa Central men combined with the women to sweep the team titles with 65 points.