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Friday September 2, 2011Florida Cross Country Squads Post Season-Opening Wins at Western Carolina Invitational

Cullowhee, N.C.

A sweep of the 2011 Western Carolina Invitational kicked off the cross country season right for both Gator squads Friday evening in North Carolina. Florida’s No. 26 men and No. 22 women topped their respective fields in the five-team invitational that took the women on a two-mile run and the men on a 5K race through the mountains in Cullowhee. Two newcomers claimed individual titles for the Orange and Blue as freshman Jimmy Clark (St. Johns, Fla.) clocked a 15:39.11 to cross the finish line first in the men’s race, while junior transfer Florence N’Getich (Eldama Ravine, Kenya) ran an 11:02.7 two-mile race to pace the women. Florida dominated the top five spots on both the men’s and women’s side, while the women placed eight finishers in the top 10.


“Tonight’s meet was a really good start to the season for us,” assistant track and field and 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.”


Both the men and women posted the lowest possible 15-point team score for both victories, achievable with their one-through-five sweeps, while host Western Carolina, UNC-Asheville, North Greenville and Warren Wilson College placed second, third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the team race on both the men’s and women’s sides.


After Clark’s victory, sophomores Tyler Davidson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) and Matt Mizereck (Tallahassee, Fla.) took second and third in the men’s 5K showdown with close times of 15:40.71 and 15:40.84, respectively, while senior Josh Izewski (Doylestown, Pa.) (15:42.30) and junior Derek Wehunt (Odessa, Fla.) (15:42.97) rounded out the top five finishers. A quartet of freshmen in Eduardo Garcia (Jacksonville, Fla.), J.L. Hines (Orlando, Fla.), Phil Duncan (Orlando, Fla.) and Alex Izewski (Doylestown, Pa.) recorded top-20 times in the 47-man field to cap off Florida’s men’s competitors at the WCU Invite with Garcia in 11th (16:13.49), Hines in 14th (16:19.95), Duncan in 16th (16:44.67) and Izewski in 18th (16:49.61)  in their inaugural race donning the Orange and Blue.


“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. 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.”


Behind N’Getich’s leadership as the women’s winner, UF senior Genevieve LaCaze (Daisy Hill, Australia) turned in a second-place 11:10.29 race and junior Callie Cooper (St. Augustine, Fla.) finished third in 11:33.03. Freshman Grace VanDeGrift (Durant, Fla.) completed her first collegiate race in fourth place (11:34.12), just ahead of sophomore Sarah Davis (Jacksonville, Fla.) in fifth (11:35.58).


The women’s domination continued after Western Carolina’s Morgan Turner put a halt to UF’s consecutive scoring with a sixth-place showing for the Catamounts, but sophomores Stephanie Strasser (Fernandina Beach, Fla.), Shelby Hayes (Winter Park, Fla.) and junior Mandy Perkins (Ormond Beach, Fla.) picked it up to claim the seventh (11:38.78), eighth (11:41.01) and ninth (11:45.18) – place spots, respectively, for a total of eight top-10 Gators.


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.”


In their first collegiate races, freshmen Tenley Godfrey (Chattanooga, Tenn.) (11th; 11:50.14), Macy Huskey (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) (21st; 12:50.49) and Olivia Walton (Altoona, Pa.) (27th; 13:28.86) rallied for the Orange and Blue to conclude a successful season-opening run in North Carolina for the Gator cross country program.


Next up, the Gators will head to Tampa, Fla., for the South Florida Invitational Sept. 9 before returning home to Gainesville for competition at the 2011 Mountain Dew Invitational, held at UF’s Mark Bostick Golf Course. For all the latest of Florida cross country, visit or follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneXCntry and @GZTrackField.


Men’s 5K Race Team Finishes

1. FLORIDA, 15

2. Western Carolina, 45

3. UNC-Asheville, 80

4. North Greenville, 115

5. Warren Wilson, 145


Florida Men’s Finishers

1. Jimmy Clark, 15:39.11

2. Tyler Davidson, 15:40.71

3. Matt Mizereck, 15:40.84

4. Josh Izewski, 15:42.30

5. Derek Wehunt, 15:42.97

11. Eduardo Garcia, 16:13.49

14. J.L. Hines, 16:19.95

16. Phil Duncan, 16:44.67

18. Alex Izewski, 16:49.61


Men’s 5K Winner

1. Jimmy Clark, Florida, 15:39.11


Women’s Two-Mile Team Finishes

1. FLORIDA, 15

2. Western Carolina, 54

3. UNC-Asheville, 71

4. North Greenville, 127

5. Warren Wilson, 130


Florida Women’s Finishers

1. Florence N’Getich, 11:02.70

2. Genevieve LaCaze, 11:10.29

3. Callie Cooper, 11:33.03

4. Grace VanDeGrift, 11:34.12

5. Sarah Davis, 11:35.58

7. Stephanie Strasser, 11:38.78

8. Shelby Hayes, 11:41.01

9. Mandy Perkins, 11:45.18

11. Tenley Godfrey, 11:50.14

21. Macy Huskey, 15:50.49

27. Olivia Walton, 13:28.86


Women’s Two-Mile Race Winner

1. Florence N’Getich, Florida, 11:02.70



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