Monday August 27, 2012Coach Spangler Previews 2012 XC Season With Media Monday
University of Florida assistant track and cross country coach Paul Spangler met with the media Monday as a part of UF’s All-Sports Media Day.
Spangler assessed both the men’s and women’s cross country squads through the summer and early fall training periods leading up to UF’s season-opening race August 31 at the Western Carolina Invitational in Cullowhee, N.C. Both Gator teams checked in at No. 3 in the South Region Preseason Rankings, released by the USTFCCCA Monday, while the national poll will be unveiled by the organization Tuesday.
The Orange and Blue will open 2012 in Cullowhee for the second-consecutive year before the Gators host the 24th Annual Mountain Dew Invitational at UF’s Mark Bostick Golf Course Sept. 15.
Last season, the Florida men’s team captured second at the SEC Championship - its best finish since 2007 - en route to a second-place, automatic-qualifying team finish at the NCAA South Region Championships to earn the team’s first automatic bid to NCAAs since 2006. The Gators finished 30th as a squad at NCAAs behind the effort of SEC Freshman of the Year Jimmy Clark (St. Johns, Fla.) and four other All-SEC honorees in Mark Parrish (Tampa, Fla.), Matt Mizereck (Tallahassee, Fla.), Eddie Garcia (Jacksonville, Fla.) and JL Hines (Orlando, Fla.). Parrish, Mizereck, Clark and Josh Izewski (Doylestown, Pa.) all turned in All-South Region performances in Tuscaloosa. Florida returns its entire scoring corps from SECs, the South Region Championships and 2011 NCAAs.
On the women’s side, the 2009 and 2010 SEC Champions raced to a third-place finish at SECs, while three individuals – Genevieve LaCaze, Florence Ngetich (Eldama Ravine, Kenya) and Cory McGee (Pass Christian, Miss.) – earned individual at-large bids to the NCAA Championships after a third-place team finish at the NCAA South Region Championship. Four women earned All-SEC honors in LaCaze, McGee, Ngetich and freshman Grace VanDeGrift (Durant, Fla.), while a total of five Gators were All-South Region picks – LaCaze, McGee, Ngetich, Stephanie Strasser (Fernandina Beach, Fla.) and Mandy Perkins (Ormond Beach, Fla.). The Gators will be without top NCAA finisher and 2012 Australian Olympian LaCaze, losing the track All-American to graduation, but will pick up highly touted recruits Julie Macedo (Wilmington, Del.) and Shelby Davidson (Melbourne, Fla.), along with 2011 latecomer and track athlete Agata Strausa (Riga, Latvia).
The women will race at 6 p.m. ET Friday in Cullowhee, while the men’s race will get under way at 6:25 p.m. ET. Visit www.GatorZone.com for a recap and results following the evening’s races or follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneXCntry & @GZTrackField.