CROSS COUNTRY

Charles Toledo: Uncut

Senior Captain Recollects on Cross-Country Career and Future Running Plans

Cross country runner Charles Toledo is a product of hard work and dedication to the sport. In his four years at the University of Tampa, he has transformed into a school record holder and one of the top runners in the Sunshine State Conference.

The senior captain has many great memories from his successful UT career, but none is more significant than the 2011 SSC Championship, when Tampa won its first conference title. Toledo paced the Spartans as its number one runner.

“It was one of the best days of my life,” explained Toledo on winning conference. Toledo also helped lead UT to a second place finish at NCAA Regional’s in 2011, qualifying the team for a trip to NCAA Nationals.

The success of last season is driving the entire team and especially Toledo. The history major strongly wants to return to Nationals. His personal goal is a top 15 finish in the South Region, but he stresses the emphasis on every member of the team running well in order to find success. 

As for the individual success for Toledo over his Spartan career, he simply attributes it to “buying into the program.” Toledo says you need to believe in what you’re working towards, a recipe that led to huge improvements his sophomore season. He also gives thanks to the UT coaching staff.

“Coach Dror (Vaknin) has been the catalyst for my success in college,” explained Toledo. Additionally, he appreciates the aid of Coach Jarrett Slaven, whom Toledo calls a mentor and someone he looks up to.

On top of Toledo’s daily running routine, he is also a member of The University of Tampa’s ROTC program. Toledo explained he always wanted to be in the military and serve his country. Through the ROTC program he will owe four years of active military duty upon graduating.

These two large commitments are sometimes difficult to juggle. Over the summer, Toledo had to attend a Leadership Development Assessment Course. This required ROTC training set him back a bit in terms of summer running, but the senior seems to be finding his stride again lately.

This hard work and dealing with the difficult task of balancing a schedule does not go unnoticed by his Spartan teammates.

“Charles is a dedicated runner and one of the hardest working individuals on the team,” said fellow captain Lewis Price. “He has great goals ahead in the future and it was a pleasure running with him these past four years,” he added.

Price and Toledo are just two elements of the outstanding senior class that should provide valuable experience over the final weeks of the season. Toledo has run with Price, Tory Webb, Mike Leone and Jake Bailey all four years.

“It’s been a great ride with these guys,” Toledo said of his fellow seniors. “They’re my brothers.”

Regarding life after UT, Toledo wants to continue running competitively and focus on the 5k and 10k distances. His ultimate goal is to break 14:30 in the 5k and 30:30 in the 10k. He vows to work towards these goals, “for as long as it takes.”

Later in his career, Toledo can see himself getting into marathons. As for right now though, the focus is on the remainder of this exciting cross-country finale.

The Spartans will race in the NCAA South Regional’s on November 3rd in Huntsville, Ala. A top three finish will advance the men’s team to NCAA Nationals, taking place on November  17th in Joplin, Missouri.

Written by Mike Leone

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