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Photo Courtesy of Andy Meng, Stageshot Photography

Saturday September 29, 2012Duncan, Hayes Lead Florida Cross Country Squads to Team Titles at Saint Leo Invitational Saturday

Saint Leo, Fla.

Photo Courtesy of Andy Meng, Stageshot Photography

Gator sophomore Phil Duncan (Orlando, Fla.) and Florida junior Shelby Hayes (Winter Park, Fla.) each turned in their first-ever event victories donning a Gator uniform, while both clocked collegiate-best times to lead the UF cross country squads to team victories Saturday morning at the Saint Leo Cross Country Fall Invitational .

 

Florida (17), Tampa (39) and host institution Saint Leo (97) led the way as the top three teams in the women’s standings, while UF (34), Florida Tech (40) and Tampa (59) rounded out the top three men’s team finalists at the Abbey Golf Course in Saint Leo.

 

“A big congrats to Phil Duncan on his first big college victory – a personal best on a difficult 8K course today,” Florida assistant track and cross country coach Paul Spangler said. “Phil did a great job mid-way through the race of catching the lead pack and passing them over the last half of the race. Our fifth scorer, John Mitchell, also did a great job –he passed about 10 guys in the last half of the race to secure the team victory for us. On the women’s side, Shelby Hayes did a great job as well today. We used a different strategy today, went out a more even pace, and her 5K mark was actually faster than her time at the Mountain Dew – also on a difficult course at St. Leo.”

 

Florida placed five runners in the top six on the women’s side for a 17-point victory following the squad’s first 6K of the 2012 season. Senior Mandy Perkins (Ormond Beach, Fla.) crossed second behind Hayes, while freshman Shelby Davidson (Melbourne, Fla.) and juniors Brittany Koziara (Orlando, Fla.) and Sarah Davis (Jacksonville, Fla.) crossed the finish line in third, fifth and sixth, respectively. Tampa’s Laura Yarrow rallied for a fourth-place overall finish to break up UF’s shot at a second-consecutive perfect score, achieved last at the Gators’ own Mountain Dew Invite Sept. 15.

 

Hayes cruised to her first college event victory with a career-best 6K mark (21:26.20), topping her previous best (23:21.94), established last season at the 2011 SEC Championship in Knoxville, Tenn. For Davidson and Koziara, Saturday’s race marked their first 6K races for the Orange and Blue.

 

On the men’s side, Duncan helped lead a charge that placed four Gators in the top 10, while all five scorers finished in the top 15 of the 45-runner men’s field to finish the competition first overall with 34 points. After clocking a then-collegiate best 26:01.86 in the 8K at Florida’s Mountain Dew Invitational Sept. 15, Duncan topped that with his 26:00.40 first-place individual win Saturday.

 

Redshirt freshman Harsha Torke (Viera, Fla.) scored second for the Orange and Blue in fourth place, while freshman Elliot Clemente (Miami, Fla.) turned in a sixth-place finish as the Gators’ third scorer. In addition to Duncan, Clemente improved upon his personal-best collegiate 8K mark, dropping from 27:04.93 at the Mountain Dew Invite to 26:57.80 at Saint Leo. Florida distance track runners Dan Wehunt (Odessa, Fla.) and John Mitchell (Valrico, Fla.) crossed in ninth and 14th overall, respectively, to score fourth and fifth for UF.

 

Both Wehunt and Mitchell suited up for their first cross country 8Ks since 2009, as Mitchell improved upon his 28:10.65 mark from the FSU Invitational in fall 2009 with Saturday’s 28:02.60.

 

The Gators will now take two weeks to prepare for the first big test of the season Oct. 13 at Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Ky. For all the latest on Florida Cross Country, follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneXCntry and @GZTrackField or visit the team’s official track and field and cross country Facebook page.

 

FLORIDA WOMEN’S 6K FINISHERS

1.     Shelby Hayes                       21:26.20 *

2.     Mandy Perkins                     21:45.54

3.     Shelby Davidson                 22:01.32 *

5.     Brittany Koziara                   22:40.12 *

6.     Sarah Davis                          22:41.65

*college-best mark

 

 

WOMEN’S TEAM SCORES

1.     Florida                                   17 points

2.     Tampa                                   39 points

3.     Saint Leo                               97 points

4.     Florida Tech                         102 points

5.     Florida Southern                  119 points

6.     Lynn                                       161 points

 

 

FLORIDA MEN’S 8K FINISHERS

1.     Phil Duncan                          26:00.40 *

4.     Harsha Torke                       26:30.80

6.    Elliot Clemente                     26:57.80 *            

9.    Dan Wehunt                          27:14.90

14. John Mitchell                         28:02.60 *

*college-best mark

 

 

MEN’S TEAM SCORES

1.     Florida                                   34 points

2.     Florida Tech                         40 points

3.     Tampa                                   59 points

4.     Saint Leo                               109 points

5.     Florida Southern                  115 points

 

 

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