TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The No. 9 Florida women’s cross country team finished second in women’s 6K race at the Pre-NCAA Invitational Saturday afternoon hosted by Indiana StateR
Running in their first 6K race of the season, the Gators finished second to No. 1 Washington, which tallied 59 points to Florida’s 89. The second-place finish was Florida’s highest ever in the meet, which is a preview for the NCAA Championships next month. Florida’s previous best finish was fifth. The Gators finished ahead of two teams ranked ahead of them – No. 5 Princeton (third) and No. 8 Minnesota (eighth).
The men’s team finished 15th in the 31-team field in the 8K race.
“That was a phenomenal run by the women,” head cross country coach Todd Morgan said. “They worked well together and proved it down the stretch. We didn’t get out to the early start that we wanted, but they stayed patient and worked through the crowd. By the end, our front five were running strong.”
For the first time in program history, Florida’s women had two Top-10 finishes at the most competitive regular-season meet. Senior Stacey Johnson of England was eighth overall with a 20:50.3 effort, the seventh best time in Florida history. Redshirt sophomore Rebecca Lowe of Australia finished right behind Johnson, with a time of 20:51.1 (ninth best in Florida history).
All five Florida runners finished in the Top 30 pack. Junior Charlotte Browning of England was 18th with a time of 21:07.8. Sophomore Genevieve LaCaze of Australia was 24th in 21:15.8 and senior Julie Northrup of Vero Beach was 30th with a personal-best time of 21:21.3.
“Stacey is a tremendous runner and competitor,” Morgan added. “Rebecca is improving run by run and gaining so much momentum. Charlotte and Genevieve had great runs again, as they have proved to be consistent forces for us. Julie had a great, breakthrough performance; finishing 30th overall in such a high-quality meet shows all her hard work.”
Florida’s SEC rivals Georgia and Alabama finished 19th and 23rd in the team standings, while Florida was the best South Region team as Jacksonville finished 33rd and Georgia Tech was 36th.
In the men’s 8K race, No. 7 Oregon finished with 79 points, while No. 3 Alabama placed second (114) and No. 2 Northern Arizona came in third (115). The Florida men were 15th with 402.
“The men had a good run,” Morgan continued. “It was a step in the right direction again. I saw fight in them; they were aggressive from the gun. They worked together throughout the race.”
Junior Anthony Morales of Palm Coast led the Florida finishers with a 57th-place effort of 24:45.2 Senior Aaron Kindt of Orlando was 67th in 24:50.7 and sophomore Josh Izeswski of Doylestown, Pa., was 74th with a personal-best time of 24:53.7. Senior Justin Taylor of St. Augustine (101, 25:11.6) and junior James Uthmeier of Destin (103rd, 25:13.6) completed the Florida scoring.
“Anthony is really developing as a strong runner,” Morgan said. “He put in another strong performance. Josh had a breakout performance. The great things he has been practicing showed through in the meet.”
Florida’s teams have the weekend off and return a week from Saturday, Oct. 31, for the SEC Championships in Oxford, Miss.
At Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Ind.
WOMEN’S 6K RACE
Team scores: 1. (1) Washington 59; 2. (9) Florida 89; 3. (5) Princeton 126; 4. (15) Syracuse 191; 5. (18) Illinois 206; 6. (8) Minnesota 214; 7. (21) New Mexico 260; 8. North Carolina 314; 9. (30) Notre Dame 323; 10. (17) Arizona State 325.
Individual winner: Angela Bizzarri (Illinois) 20:27.8.
Florida runners: 8. Stacey Johnson 20:50.3 (personal best); 9. Rebecca Lowe 20:51.1 (personal best); 18. Charlotte Browning 21:07.8; 24. Genevieve LaCaze 21:15.8; 30. Julie Northrup 21:21.3 (personal best); 124. Kaitlin Shiver 22:24.6; 149. Laura Garrow 22:40.0.
MEN’S 8K RACE
Team scores: 1. (7) Oregon 79; 2. (3) Alabama 114; 3. (2) Northern Arizona 115; 4. (9) William & Mary 128; 5. (14) Washington 183; 6. Auburn 263; 7. Washington State 274; 8. (27) Tulsa 281; 9. (21) North Carolina State 294; 10. (29) Cal Poly 303; 15. Florida 402.
Individual winner: Luke Puskedra (Oregon) 23:40.2.
Florida runners: 57. Anthony Morales 24:45.2; 67. Aaron Kindt 24:50.7; 74. Josh Izewski 24:53.7 (personal best); 101. Justin Taylor 25:11.6; 103. James Uthmeier 25:13.6; 122. Derek Wehunt 25:29.4; 147. Matt Hensley 25:47.8.