For the first time in five years, the University of Florida men’s cross country team will compete in the NCAA Championship meet as a team. The squad got an automatic bid after placing second in the NCAA South Regional competition on Saturday in Tuscaloosa. The NCAA will announce if the women’s team will be offered a bid on Nov. 13.
The men’s cross country team was second behind Florida State in the10K race. Sophomore Mark Parrish came in first for the Gators and fifth overall with a time of 31:05.2. He was followed by sophomore Matt Mizereck in ninth, freshman Jimmy Clark in tenth, and senior Josh Izewski in 13th.
“We’re really proud of the guys and the way they came out and competed today,” assistant track and field and cross country coach Todd Morgan said. “This is a young group; a lot of them were racing a 10K for the first time and they really raced tough. Mark (Parrish), Matt (Mizereck), Jimmy (Clark) and Josh (Izewski) grouped up and really stayed focused throughout the race. It was huge day for Eduardo Garcia – he’s come in and worked really hard and it was good to see him come in fifth to close out the scoring for us. All of our guys really believed in the plan that myself and Coach Holloway put in place for them, went out there and executed.”
The women’s team was third behind Florida State and Vanderbilt in the 6K race. Genevieve LaCaze was the first Gator to finish for the fourth consecutive meet. The senior came in fourth overall with a time of 20:41.2. She was followed by sophomore Cory McGee in sixth and junior Florence N’Getich in ninth.
“On the women’s side, we came in trying to swing for a home run,” Morgan said. “We knew Vandy and FSU are two really good teams. Gen (LaCaze), Cory (McGee) and Florence (N’Getich) all went in looking to start us off as well as possible in the scoring. They were really aggressive and went for it; I’m really proud of those women. Steph (Strasser) has been a really solid player for us and that showed today. Mandy (Perkins) had a big break through today and had her best cross country meet ever. We really needed Mandy to step up for us because Callie (Cooper) was knocked down at the start of the race. She got up, didn’t quit and worked her way back into the mix; that’s sports and I’m proud of the way she handled herself.”
The teams will have a week to train before travelling to Terre Haute, Ind. for the NCAA Championship meet on Monday, Nov. 21.
Gator Country reporter Darby Underwood can be reached at email@example.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/darbyunderwood.