Florida’s 2010 cross country season begins Saturday with the 22nd Mountain Dew Invitational at the Mark Bostick Golf Course. Both Florida teams will be seeking their sixth straight titles in the event. The women’s 5K race is at 8 a.m. and the men’s 8K starts at 8:30. High school races begin at 9:05 a.m.
“We are really looking forward to having our first meet,” cross country coach Todd Morgan said. “Training has been going really well and we’re looking forward to getting the competition going.”
The Gators will host 19 other Florida colleges and universities for the collegiate races, while over 50 boys and girls high school teams are slated to compete in the varsity and junior varsity high school races.
At last year’s Mountain Dew Invitational, both Gator teams placed six runners in the top 10, as the women tallied 18 points and the men recorded 20 points to take both collegiate overall titles.
Florida’s Charlotte Browning (Chichester, England) took the women’s 5K in 17:25.08, the third-best time ever run at the Gator Invitational. She returns for her senior campaign. Redshirt junior Rebecca Lowe (Vaucluse, Australia), who led the Gator women’s team to a seventh-place finish at the 2009 NCAA Championships Nov. 23 at Terre Haute, Ind., also returns along with junior Genevieve LaCaze (Daisy Hill, Australia), senior Ali Crabb (St. Petersburg), sophomore Sydney Devore (Lakeland), redshirt senior Alison Babb (Gainesville) and redshirt senior Callie Cooper (St. Augustine). Florida has four quality freshmen in Sarah Davis (Jacksonville), Shelby Hayes (Winter Park), Stephanie Strasser (Fernandina Beach) and Cory McGee (Pass Christian, Miss.).
On the men’s side, senior Anthony Morales (Palm Coast) turned in Florida’s highest finish, a second-place showing and then personal best time (24:24) in the 8K men’s race last year. He returns as does fellow senior James Uthmeier (Destin), juniors Michael Anderson (Williston) and Josh Izewski (Doyleston, Pa.), sophomores Derek Wehunt (Odessa) and Daniel Manco (Miami). Tyler Davidson (Cocoa Beach), Matt Mizereck (Tallahassee), Erick Montoya (Estero), Tim O’Loughlin (Westerly, R.I.), Eric Ochoa (Jacksonville) and Mark Parrish (Tampa) are the top freshmen.
Florida’s women open the 2010 cross country season picked by the SEC Coaches to defend their league title, while the women’s squad also checked in at No. 8 on the 2010 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division I Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Gator women are the second-ranked team in the South Region.
On the men’s side, the Gators were tabbed the No. 3 team in the South Region by the USTFCCCA and received 10 votes for the national poll, but were held out of the top-30. Florida was picked to finish third in the SEC by vote of the league’s head coaches Aug. 25.
BRING CANNED GOODS: Florida’s Mountain Dew/Gator Invitational Saturday will additionally be one of the school’s targeted events for the “SEC Together We CAN Food Drive.” Spectators can bring their canned goods to the meet to help fight hunger in Gainesville. In conjunction with the other 11 SEC institutions, Florida’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will be collecting canned goods and other non-perishable food items at Gator events from Sept. 17-26. Last year, the “SEC Together We CAN Drive” raised over 42,500 pounds of food and donations throughout the league. Donations in Gainesville will benefit the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank.
MOUNTAIN DEW INVITATIONAL
At Mark Bostick Golf Course, Gainesville, Fla.
8 a.m.: Intercollegiate/College Open Women’s 5K
8:30: Intercollegiate/College Open Men’s 8K
9:05: Varsity High School Girls 5K
9:30: College Awards Ceremony
9:35: Varsity High School Boys 5K
10:05: Junior Varsity High School Girls 5K
10:35: Junior Varsity High School Boys 5K
MOUNTAIN DEW INVITATIONAL
Last 5 years (team champion; individual champion)
2005: Florida; Henok Lechebo (Florida) 23:53.81
2006: Florida; Jeremy Criscione (Florida) 24:22.48
2007: Florida; Enoch Nadler (Florida) 24:48.73
2008: Florida; Jeremy Criscione (Florida) 24:38.75
2009: Florida; Evans Kirwa (Embry-Riddle) 24:21.10
2005: Florida; Allison Mascas (Tampa) 17:16.62
2006: Florida; Lindsay Sundell (Florida) 17:36.54
2007: Florida; Friend Juhl (unattached) 17:36.99
2008: Florida; Genevieve LaCaze (Florida) 17:34.79
2009: Florida; Charlotte Browning (Florida) 17:25.08
GATOR INVITATIONAL/MOUNTAIN DEW INVITATIONAL
All-time top times
1. Allison Mascas (Tampa) 17:16.62 (2005)
2. Becki Wells (Florida) 17:23.50 (1995)
3. Charlotte Browning (Florida) 17:25.08 (2009)
4. Jill Steffens (Georgia) 17:25.39 (2004)
5. Melanie Schultz (Miami) 17:25.92 (2005)
1. Henok Lechebo (Florida) 23:53.81 (2005)
2. Zepherinus Joseph (North Florida) 24:06.66 (2002)
3. Steven Hassen (Florida) 24:11.87 (2005)
4. Evans Kirwa (Embry-Riddle) 24:21.10 (2009)
5. Jeremy Criscione (Florida) 24:21.69 (2005)