Category Archives: Bronco Women’s Cross Country
NMMI Sports Press
For Bronco Sandra Szpott, running is not just an athletic activity.
It’s in her genes.
Szpott’s mother ran cross country, her father and grandfather track; and her grandmother the 5K. The Polish native — she hails from Wyrzysk, a small town in northwestern Poland that also lays claim to rocket pioneer Werner von Braun — began running as a 10-year old and quickly began winning local races. (Although if you ask her, she says she only won a few bronze medals. NMMI coach Jan Olesinski is quick to point out those are Polish national medals she’s talking about.)
This year, the 20-year-old freshman brought some of the highest athletic honors ever achieved by a cadet to NMMI: she finished third at the NJCAA cross-country national meet, getting to stand on a stage with athletes from Australia (Iowa Central) and Kenya (Monroe College.)
She was typically unassuming after the victory, noting simply that she was “excited” and “in shock.” But just because she downplays her results doesn’t mean she doesn’t have grander plans.
This summer, she said, she hopes to win the Polish U23 national championship and qualify for the European championships, which Poland will host. If she does make it to the European meet, she might miss a week of two at the start of school — the meet is in mid August — but, Olesinski said, they’ll manage.
“If she qualifies we’ll wait a week or two for her to come back. If she was a new cadet, it’d be tough, but she’ll be a sophomore.”
And when she comes back to NMMI as a sophomore, “Hopefully, coach will have a team and we’ll compete as a team,” she said, with a goal of winning not only an individual gold medal but a team medal as well.
Szpott seems to be always training. Catch her on campus and she’s in running attire, making her way from place to place by foot.
“I practice almost every single day, and even in the off-season I train,” she said.
Asked how far and how long she runs, she said its six to seven miles every day, for two hours.
“She basically runs to Walmart and back every day,” Olesinski said.
Szpott likes training in Roswell, the elevation and temperatures in particular.
“It’s a good environment to prepare for nationals. This is a big, big sports camp for me,” she said.
But when she first got here, she was — like many of the foreign students who attend NMMI — a bit of a fish out of water.
Teammate Katarzyna Rosikon, also from Poland, made the initial contact after Olesinski had picked Szpott as a possible runner for NMMI.
“I sent Sandra a message that the coach is looking for girls. We were really interested in her because she had really good results in Poland,” she said. “I started talking to her and explained how everything was as NMMI after one year. I told her what she had to be prepared for. How everything’s going, like uniforms and the military discipline. She had to be ready for that.”
And, Szpott said, she was. Sort of.
“My first impression was really good; what the school looks like and everything,” she said, “But I was really surprised about the uniforms and everything. RAT week was really hard for me.”
Add in the fact her English was not strong — her interviews are done with Olesinski and Rosikon translating — and she was training and competing while she was learning the NMMI ropes, it could have been hard.
“The first two, three months were tough for her. Everything was new,” Olesinski said.
But she not only got through it, she took third place out of the over 300 runners who qualified and competed for the NJCAA National Championships. And, Rosikon said, Szpott is getting more used to the NMMI, and U.S., way of life.
“She’s getting more confident,” Rosikon said. “It’s all about confidence. I know from my experience. When I came here, it was the same. When you first come here, you don’t want to speak too much. It’s better to listen, listen, listen and get used to the language, then slowly, slowly adapt and start to talk. I see that now. She’s getting better. More confident. And with this confidence, she’ll talk more.”
And, as a sophomore next season, hopefully bring in more Polish runners — she’s been in touch with several as Rosikon did with her — she can be the leader of a team that will look to touch even greater heights.
NMMI Sports Press
EL DORADO, Kans. — The course at the Prairie Trails golf course was uphill at the start and uphill at the finish, but that didn’t faze Bronco runner Sandra Szpott, who finished third at the national cross country meet in Kansas Saturday.
Szpott not only came home with a bronze medal, but she did it by running more than a minute faster than she had all year, finishing in 17:45.97.
“And this is a 5K course because it’s nationals,” said coach Jan Olesinski. “So it’s a certified course. And it’s not easy. It’s up and down. The finish is up. She ran an awesome race.”
“I feel very good,” Szpott said after the finish. “I am very excited and I am in shock because it was a very, very hard course. But I am happy.”
To add to the excitement, the Bronco freshman beat both El Paso Community College runners who finished ahead of her at the regional meet a week ago.
“I’m very glad because they are very good runners,” Szpott said. “I didn’t think I could do it because they beat me in previous races.”
“She beat the two girls from El Paso three weeks ago during a meet, and she lost last week,” Olesinski said. “But I thought she just needed a little more rest. So after last week we got more rest. Had more fun. Had easy practices and it paid off.”
That it did.
The day was perfect for a cross country meet, cool but not cold and the course wound up and down on grassy fairways at the golf course. And Szpott wasn’t the only NMMI runner who had a good day. Although the places weren’t as good as last year, the times were better.
“We were closer together,” said sophomore Katarzyna Rosikon, who finished 34th. “You can see the times are really close. I was shocked. When my coach told me at the finish line I got 19:07, I was like, ‘What!?’ and I felt really good on the course.”
Last year, Rosikon finished 25th with a slower time of 19:27.
“That’s why I’m really, really, really, really, really excited,” she said. “I’m really happy.”
Valeriia Uvarova was 93rd in 20:13.02 and Amy Farfan Aguilar was 137th in 20:47.66. That’s out of a field of 314 runners from all across the country.
“We all did really well,” Rosikon said. “Sandra, our hero, she got third place in the nation. It’s like crazy. She’s just a freshman in college and she’s a great runner. Valeriia and Amy did a really good job. We were really prepared for this race. We worked hard all season. We came here prepared and we did great. I bet coach is pretty proud of us.”
“Everybody ran good times. Everybody tried their best,” Olesinski said.
And while Rosikon, Uvarova and Aguilar will graduate, Szpott will be back next year, this time looking for gold.
“Next year will be better,” she said.
“I hope she stays for one more year,” Olesinski said. “(Colt runner) Sierra (Walker) is coming and maybe we’ll get some more girls. Who knows?”
Individuals — 3, Sandra Szpott, 17:45.97; 34, Katarzyna Rosikon, 19:07.16; 93, Valeriia Uvarova, 20:13.02; 137, Amy Farfan Aguilar, 20:47.66
NMMI Sports Press
HOBBS — Sandra Szpott didn’t come home with a title, but she did finish third at the Region V cross country championships in Hobbs Saturday, with two other Bronco runners finishing in the top 20.
Coach Jan Olesinski wasn’t disappointed the Bronco didn’t get the crown.
“There were two very good girls from Kenya ahead of her and they ran well,” he said. “Sandra had her best race today, she did her best so it’s not bad leading into nationals.”
The runners who beat her were both from El Paso Community College, which won the team title with an impressive 25 points. Shalet Mitei took first while Rose Jebet, finished second.
Szpott crossed the line in 18:54.8, her best time of the season.
Katarzyna Rosikon finished 11th and Valeria Uvarova 17th, each with good times.
“They all improved their times from the last time they ran over there, so it was great,” Olesinski said.
The year’s final meet for the Broncos is the NJCAA National Championships in El Dorado, Kans., Nov. 12.
NMMI results at the Region V meet
Individuals — 3, Sandra Szpott, 18:54.8; 11, Katarzyna Rosikon, :20:16.0; 17, Valeriia Uvarova, :21:09.03
NMMI Sports Press
HOBBS — Sandra Szpott brought home another first-place cross country finish for the Broncos Friday, despite — or maybe because of — running against athletes from the No. 2 and No. 11 ranked teams in the country.
“Sandra had a great race,” said coach Jan Olesinski. “She had to compete a little bit, because of two girls from El Paso and South Plains, they kind of pushed each other.”
Running a 5K on the Rockwind Community Links at the University of the Southwest Invitational — across the street from where she won a title at the NMJC Invite — Szpott finished in 18:58, three seconds faster than her time two weeks ago.
Katarzyna Rosikon finished ninth, with teammate Valeriia Uvarova just behind in 11th — 12 seconds faster than her last race — while Amy Farfan Aguilar came in 16th.
With only four Broncos running, NMMI couldn’t compete as a team, but Olesinski was pleased with both the course and his team.
Next up for the Broncos is the Region V Championships in Odessa, Texas, Oct. 29.
University of the Southwest Invitational results
Bronco individuals: 1, Sandra Szpott, 18:58; 9, Katarzyna Rosikon, 20:32; 11, Valeriia Uvarova, 20:51; 16, Amy Farfan Aguilar, 21:42
NMMI Sports Press
HOBBS — Bronco cross country runner Sandra Szpott led NMMI to a team second-place finish Friday at the New Mexico Junior College Invitational at Harry McAdams State Park. It was the highest team finish for the Lady Broncos in a number of years.
Besides the freshman’s winning run, returners Katarzyna Rosikon and Amy Farfan Aguilar finished in the top 10, with Valeriia Uvarova iust behind in 12th.
“I thought they ran really good,” said coach Jan Olesinski. “Sandra won, so it’s amazing. I believe it’s the first time we had any college girl win a race.”
And Szpott was pleased with her run.
“I feel very good. I ran well, in my opinion,” she said. “The course was good. It didn’t have a lot of hills and was very runnable.”
Szpott stayed with two South Plains runners for about half the race, then pulled ahead and never again trailed. Rosikon took fifth, pulling away from a University of the Southwest runner just before the finish, while Aguilar was just behind a Mustang.
Rosikon’s time was 30 seconds better than last year at the same race, and Aguilar was running for the first time as a Bronco without an injury.
Uvarova gave it an extra push at the line, edging an SP Texan, while Francisca Nyarko and Becsave Pacheco, dual-sport athletes who also play tennis for the Broncos, finished in 34th and 35th, with Nyarko passing Pacheco at the finish. Mikayla Lopez took ill along the way and couldn’t finish.
“I think the four girls did an outstanding job,” Olesinski said of his full-time runners. The three tennis players have been busy with fall tourneys, so haven’t had time to practice much, but with that fall season winding down, Olesinski is hoping they’ll move up in the finishes,
“I believe from now on they will be more focused in the weeks before nationals,” he said.
The Broncos will be back in Hobbs Oct. 14 for the University of the Southwest Invitational, hoping to improve on Friday’s times.
NMMI results from the NMJC Invitational
Team — 1, South Plains, 29; 2, NMMI, 39; 3, Lubbock Christian, 63; Sul Ross State, 85
Invididual — 1, Sandra Szpott, 19:01.00; 5, Katarzyna Rosikon, 20:10.00; 9, Amy Farfan Aguilar, 21:10.00; 12, Valeriia Uvarova, 21:39.00; 34, Francisca Nyarko, 26:46.00; 35, Becsave Pacheco, 26:47.00; 36, Mikayla Lopez, DNF