Lakewood Ranch High School senior Natalie Novak is going to “run with the bulls” in Tampa starting in the fall 2013. Head Coach Dena Reif of the University of South Florida has offered Novak a scholarship to join their cross-country & track teams. During her four year running career with the Lady Mustangs, Natalie’s elite times of 18:48 in the 5K and 2:16 in the 800 meter have made her a highly sought after athlete by other Florida Universities and others schools as far away as DePaul University in Chicago.
Natalie was the lead off leg for the Mustang’s 4 x 800 meter relay team in 2012, which posted a winning time of 9:14 at the FHSAA 3A State Championships and set a new school record. Their relay team also included: Devin McDermott (freshman running at the University of Florida), Olivia Ortiz (Committed to University of Alabama) and Kristin Zarrella (Committed to University of Southern Mississippi). Novak was selected by the Florida Athletic Coaches Association (FACA) to participate in the Florida Senior All Star Cross Country Championships at Florida State University where she finished in the top 20.
It is clear Lakewood Ranch has developed a power house running program under the direction of their coaches; Bryan Thomas, Mark Napier and Kristina Bratton who have consistently placed their NCAA Division 1 recruited athletes into the SEC, Conference USA and now Novak headed to The Big East. The Mustangs girls cross country team has finished 2nd, 2nd, 3rd & 5th place at the FHSAA 3A championships in the last four years.
“I am so excited about the opportunity, privilege and responsibility to be a student and runner at USF,” said Novak who continued; … It is only through tremendous caring, work and support of my teachers, coaches, team, family and my faith that this honor has been made possible.”
Natalie will be joining her older sister Theresa at USF, who is currently a sophomore and 4.0 student in USF's Nationally ranked College of Education.