All for the Gators: Duo of freshman runners reflect on their first-semester experience.

Adjusting to being a college student is a difficult transition for most freshmen across the country, but adapting to becoming a collegiate student-athlete provides an entirely different challenge in itself. Alongside acclimating to a new environment, these athletes face consuming schedules and high levels of competition all while working to balance coursework. 

For Florida Gators runners Javi Vento (@javi_vento) and Julia Lavrador(@julia_lavrador), the new experience has been a challenge, but a welcome one. 

Putting the “student” in “student-athlete.”

“When I first came to UF, I kind of forgot I was in college, but that reality, unfortunately, settled in after my first exam.”, said Julia Lavrador, a freshman runner on the women’s cross-country team. A Satellite Beach native, Lavrador says she’s been surprised by the difference in workload. “there’s much less lecture but much more homework/studying. Creating a routine for myself really helped with that.”  The time in between morning runs and afternoon lifts are typically devoted to school work. 

Javi Vento, a freshman runner on the men’s team says that time management is the key. Vento is a Miami local, having raced for a demanding Belen Jesuit squad in high school.

“I find it to be a good balance…With great time management, there is plenty of downtime.”

Finding success on the course

Outside of the classroom, the pair of freshman runners have also encountered a significant transition in running. “The athletic transition took some time but having a high-level training group made it easier,” said Vento.

Although these moments of struggle can lead to insecurity and other issues for the athletes, both runners have expressed an appreciation for the increased drive.

“Honestly, the increase in competition has been great for me, since it’s driving me to
become a better athlete. Having people that I have to hang on to during hard workouts,
that are in better shape than I am,  forces me to try my best every day.” – Julia Lavrador.

The hard work looks to be paying off with both Lavrador and Vento running some of their best times and making strides as developing runners in the program. Javi got off to a particularly good start winning the UCF invitational and eventually getting a slot to represent the Gators at the SEC Cross Country Championships.

The fall semester seems to have been a massive learning experience for both runners, but there is no time to waste. After a brief break following the cross country season, the duo is gearing up for Gators track in the spring. “I’m excited to get strong and put everything I have in the weight room and on the track,” said Julia. The energy levels are high and the team is looking to build up for a strong spring season. 


As always, follow @mannyandrs on Twitter for more Gators and Gainesville sports.


About Manny Rodriguez-Lapido

Check Also

Gator Football Update

Since their loss in the Gasparilla Bowl, there has been plenty of news regarding the …