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Friday August 31, 2012Cross Country 2012 Debut: Florida XC Squads Post Season-Opening Victories at Western Carolina Invite

Cullowhee, N.C.

A total of 10 Gator cross country athletes notched top-10 finishes to complete UF’s season-opening efforts at the Western Carolina Invitational Friday. Freshman Julie Macedo (Wilmington, Del.) and senior Josh Izewski (Doylestown, Pa.) led the Orange and Blue in Cullowhee, as both Gators were victorious in their respective events, helping Florida to both the women’s and men’s team victories.


“Overall, we saw a very solid effort on both the men’s and women’s sides this evening, especially within the top five,” Florida assistant track and field and cross country coach Paul Spangler said. “As a whole, both teams ran quite a bit faster this year than last year at this meet. We certainly still have work to do as the season gets going. We had a very productive track season and our athletes did a great job of training over the summer. We want to see them get better year after year and we certainly saw a big jump from this point last year to this year. With that said, we’ll keep working as the season progresses.”


For the second consecutive season, the first under Spangler, UF kicked off the fall campaign at the Catamount Athletic Complex on the WCU campus, the women with a two-mile run and the men with a 5K race. The women posted a low 17 points after five stellar performances, while the men checked in with 19 points after multiple career-best runs.


UNC-Asheville (59) and Charlotte (72) rounded out the top three team finishers on the women’s side, while meet host WCU (55) and Charlotte (86) checked in second and third behind the Gators, respectively, in the men’s competition.


A total of 10 Gator runners secured top-10 finishes, as Florida took the first four spots on the women’s side and one-through-three in men’s action. In her inaugural race donning the Orange and Blue, Macedo jumped out of the gates for her first collegiate victory, clocking a quick 11:14.4 two-mile run, while the women’s pack kept it tight with senior Callie Cooper (St. Augustine, Fla.) just four-tenths of a second behind in second (11:14.8). 


Junior Shelby Hayes (Winter Park, Fla.) crossed third (11:15.4) just a second behind Macedo, while classmates Stephanie Strasser (Fernandina  Beach, Fla.) (11:28.5) and Brittany Koziara (Orlando, Fla.) (11:44.3) scored fourth and fifth for the Gators, Strasser fourth overall and Koziara seventh in the field.


The Gator trio of Cooper, Hayes and Strasser demonstrated significant fitness and speed from the same meet a year ago, clocking best times by nearly 15 seconds each in Friday’s event.


“I felt we had pretty good effort for the women, even though we held out three of our top runners. Regardless, we had a very productive day and our top five ran very well. One person that really sticks out is Brittany Koziara, who ran her first race in nearly three years today. I’m really proud of her; she’s battled injury, stuck with it and we really started to see some improvements at the end of track season. She then put together a great summer of training and she’s started to get back to where she’s capable of running.”


“The end of the women’s race was close and a complete group effort – the top three drew straws for the order of finish. Stephanie Strasser was right there with them down the stretch and I was proud of how Steph and Brittany rallied to round out our scoring.”


On the men’s side, the veteran Izewski rallied the troops for the Gators, notching his first win of the season and leading the way as UF’s top three scorers turned in a spread just under five seconds. Izewski crossed in 15:14.1, while 2011 SEC Freshman of the Year Jimmy Clark (St. Johns, Fla.) was on his heels in 15:14.7, with junior Mark Parrish (Tampa, Fla.) four seconds behind Clark in 15:18.7.


Izewski and Clark, along with sophomores JL Hines (Orlando, Fla.) (15:31.8), Eddie Garcia (Jacksonville, Fla.) (15:49.5) and Phil Duncan (Orlando, Fla.) (16:01.9), all established collegiate-best 5K marks while improving their runs from a year ago by nearly half a minute as Hines and Garcia scored five and eight points for UF, respectively.


“On the men’s side, our top five scorers did a great job. We averaged about 30 seconds faster per guy than last year. The biggest improvement in our lineup was the fourth scorer, which really closed the gap in the pack for us. It was also good to see our veteran fifth-year senior Josh get the win tonight and start off his final season with a victory.”


Duncan crossed 16th overall, while redshirt freshman Harsha Torke (Viera, Fla.) and junior Matt Mizereck (Tallahassee, Fla.) rounded out UF’s competitors in Cullowhee in 27th and 47th, respectively.


The Gators will return to Gainesville and enter a two-week training period before hosting the 2012 Mountain Dew Invitational at UF’s Mark Bostick Golf Course Sept. 15. Keep up with the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneXCntry / @GZTrackField and visit for all recaps and results.




1 Florida                                17

2 UNC-Asheville                  59

3 Charlotte                            72

4 Western Carolina             94

5 Winthrop                            113

6 Gardner-Webb                  151

7 North Greenville               218

8 Warren Wilson College   232



1 Florida                                19

2 Western Carolina             55

3 Charlotte                            86

4 UNC-Asheville                  96

5 Winthrop                            110

6 North Greenville               179

7 Gardner-Webb                  194

8 Warren Wilson College   243



1. Julie Macedo, 11:14.4*

2. Callie Cooper, 11:14.8*

3. Shelby Hayes, 11:15.4*

4. Stephanie Strasser, 11:28.5*

7. Brittany Koziara, 11:44.3*


*-denotes collegiate best mark



1. Josh Izewski, 15:14.1*

2. Jimmy Clark, 15:14.7*

3. Mark Parrish, 15:18.7

5. JL Hines, 15:31.8*

8. Eddie Garcia, 15:49.5*

16. Phil Duncan, 16:09.1*

27. Harsha Torke, 16:36.2*

47. Matt Mizereck, 17:13.8


*-denotes collegiate best mark



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