The University of Florida’s men’s and women’s cross country teams took first place in the Western Carolina Invitational in Cullowhee, N.C, on Friday dominating the competition. Both teams held down the top five spots in each race and the women’s team had nine finishers in the top 11.
“Tonight’s meet was a really good start to the season for us,” assistant cross country coach Todd Morgan said. “We had some athletes that really want to be contributors use this summer to train hard. They came back in shape, which is a tremendous help and will give us some more depth – and we saw that tonight. We really appreciate Western Carolina for putting on this meet. It was a great event and we got a lot out of it. We started off on the right foot for a good year.”
The Gators ran against four other teams – Western Carolina University, University of North Carolina Asheville, North Greenville University, and Warren Wilson College.
Florida’s No. 22 women’s team ran its two mile run with a total time of 56:55.72 and an average time of 11:23.15. The No. 26 men’s team ran its 5k race with a total time of 1:18:25.93 and an average time of 15:41.19. Both teams had the lowest possible score, 15, which is attainable through one-through-five place sweeps.
For the women’s team, junior Florence N’Getich took first place with a time of 11:02.70. She was followed by senior Genevieve LaCaze, junior Callie Cooper, freshman Grace VanDeGrift, and sophomore Sarah Davis. Morgan said although the women had great success, there is still some work to be done.
“In the women’s race I saw some good things, and also some things we want to improve on as well. We had a really big week of training, so overall we are happy at this point. The women have had good focus and we’re happy with where they are at right now as a team. Florence was a big addition for us and she’s been able to come in and fit in right away.”
The men’s competition was controlled by underclassmen. Freshman Jimmy Clark took first place with a time of 15:39.11. He was followed by sophomore Tyler Davidson, sophomore Matt Mizereck, senior Josh Izewski and junior Dereck Wehunt.
“What I saw with the men’s team is what we talked about through the past two weeks of training – they’ve become a good group, they really support each other, they’ve been working hard and focusing towards their goals at the end of the season. We saw that start tonight.” Morgan said, “Jimmy is a tremendous athlete and a great competitor. He started his collegiate career off on the right foot. He’s going to do great things and we’re really happy for him.”
The next meet for the Gators is the South Florida Invitational in Tampa on Friday.
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.