The Gators women’s cross country team finished first overall in its home meet on Saturday and had runners sweep the first three spots while the men’s team finished second.
For the women’s 5K race, senior Genevieve LaCaze was the first runner in with a time of 17:05.09. She was followed by junior Florence N’Getich and sophomore Cory McGee. This meet was LaCaze’s last home meet of her college career.
“I thought I came in with a bang and won, so I had to leave with a bang, but I mean, I just got such a support like I’ve never had before,” LaCaze said. “Having Florence come in was the biggest bonus we could have hoped for, and Cory as a freshman last year was just progressing the whole year and to come in now and have her in practice, I couldn’t be running any better without these girls.”
LaCaze said she enjoys running in Gainesville because of the atmosphere.
“I just love the heat as well,” she said. “So I got the warmth, I got the crowd, and I got the home ground we train on every single Monday morning. I pretty much got everything that puts together great ingredients for a good result. Having our home meet here at this time of year because it’s not too important that we don’t run our best, but we always seem to perform. I guess that matters a lot when we’re in front of our crowd.”
The home meet was third place finisher, Cory McGee’s, first meet of the season.
“I’m definitely excited with the result,” McGee said. “I think that it definitely went the way that I planned. Kind of going out and really seeing where I felt good and relaxing into the pace and getting with the people who I’m comfortable running with and who I run with every day really helped.”
University of Florida assistant track and field and cross country coach Todd Morgan is excited to see how LaCaze, N’Getich and McGee will perform in the upcoming meets.
“Those are three competitive, good athletes and they’ve been training well together,” Morgan said. “Not a surprise to see it, but it was a great start to the year. Those three are going to do big things. And we’ve got good depth on this team, and I think it will show a little more in the next few meets how solid we are depth wise, too.”
The men’s team was second overall behind Michigan and had three runners finish their 8K race in the top 10. Sophomore Matt Mizereck finished first for the Gators and second overall with a time of 24:38.50 with sophomore Mark Parrish in seventh and freshman Jimmy Clark in eighth.
“It was a tight battle,” Morgan said. “And those are two good teams that came down, and we’re grateful they came down and ran us… It was as good of an early season cross country meet as you’re going to see as far as three good schools going at it.”
Mizereck was really happy with his performance at the Mountain Dew Invitational. He said running at home was a lot more comfortable and that really helped.
“I felt like I did really good,” Mizereck said. “I came out conservative, just followed the group. Second lap where we needed to start pushing, I did that, took the lead a little bit – started pushing those hills. And I feel that really did a lot to some other competitors out here, so it helped me to get a little advantage over them. So, all and all I think I did really well compared to last year.”
Both cross country teams have three weeks before their next meet in Wisconsin. Mizereck and LaCaze said they will continue to work hard until they head west.
“Start getting those miles in, just really work our legs,” Mizereck said. “Just get ready to have the endurance and strength for Wisconsin because we’re going to need it there.”
“Just doing what we’re doing, it’s obviously working, so why stop now,” LaCaze said. “We all came in fit which is obviously a good start, but coach has just really put together some great sessions that allow us to really strengthen our weaknesses. And I think mine is speed at the moment.”
Morgan agreed that a lot of hard work will be put in over the next few weeks. The Gators will compete in the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational on Oct. 14.
“We’re going to get after it over the next couple weeks because training-wise,” he said. “Wisconsin is going to be a war so we’re excited to go in there and see how we stack up against some great teams.”
Gator Country reporter Darby Underwood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/darbyunderwood.