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Saturday October 13, 2012Florida Cross Country Impresses with Top-10 Finishes at Pre-Nationals Saturday

Louisville, Ky.

Florida emerged from the 2012 Pre-Nationals cross country meet with top-10 team finishes on both sides, as the women checked in ninth overall in the field of 38 teams, while the men were 10th of 40 men’s seeded teams. Four Gator men’s runners cruised to career-best 8K marks, while the ladies registered five collegiate best 6K times after Saturday’s competition.


Pre-Nats, hosted by the University of Louisville at the E.P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer State Park, gave the Gators a preview of the 2012 NCAA Championship course, hosted this year by Louisville Sat., Nov. 17 – the earliest in Division I history and also the first time since World War II the meet will be on a Saturday instead of a Monday.


Under the veteran leadership of top-25 finishers junior Mark Parrish (Tampa, Fla.) and senior Florence Ngetich (Eldama Ravine, Kenya), Florida tallied 308 points for ninth place on the women’s side, while the men accumulated 369 points as the 10th-place men’s squad. FSU (72), Oregon (87) and Michigan (141) rounded out the top three women’s team finishers, while Colorado (72), BYU (127) and Oregon (152) were the top three men’s team finishers at Pre-Nationals.


Florida was off to the races, with a successful day against the ultra-competitive and USTFCCCA Top-30 saturated field. With both Gator teams knocking on the door, receiving votes in the top-30 national polls, the Orange and Blue finished ahead of William and Mary on the men’s side and Butler on the women’s side, and were right in the mix with a number of top-10 ranked squads represented in the field.


Parrish cruised to a career-best 23:43.2 8K and finished16th overall in the field to score first for the Orange and Blue, which turned in a pack spread of 52 seconds. Parrish shattered his previous best 24:23.69 from last year’s SEC Championship race. Sophomore JL Hines (Orlando, Fla.) checked in 47th (24:00.7) to improve his collegiate best, while classmate Jimmy Clark (St. Johns, Fla.) crossed third for UF in 96th with a personal-best 24:27.4.


“I was very pleased with the men today, we came in with goal of trying to average 24:20 for our top five and we averaged 24:15,” Florida assistant track and field and cross country coach Paul Spangler said. “Mark Parrish ran a great race and had a huge personal record. He finished with the top guys and he certainly proved himself as one of the top guys in that race at 16th. If you would have told me JL Hines was going to run 24-flat, I wouldn’t have believed you – we had a goal time for him to go about 24:25 and he went 24:00 with a phenomenal race and personal best as well.”


Sophomore Eddie Garcia (Jacksonville, Fla.) was just three spots behind Clark in 99th (24:28.8) to score fourth for the Gators and junior Matt Mizereck (Tallahassee, Fla.) wrapped up UF’s scoring corps in 111th (24:35.2), as Garcia ran for a best mark as well, while Mizereck was just seven seconds of a personal record.


“Jimmy Clark has been sick with the flu this week, but he really toughed it out with a best time for him as well, and Eddie Garcia had another huge PR, completely exceeding our expectations going into the meet,” Spangler said. “For Matt Mizereck, this was a big step forward for him. This isn’t where he wanted to be at the beginning of the year, but it was a huge step, he’s going to continue to get better and that showed today.”


Senior Josh Izewski (Doylestown, Pa.) rounded out Florida’s competitors in 129th overall, crossing in 24:40.7.


“We have some work to do on the men’s side going in to the SEC Championship and today was a positive step in being where we need to be to have some success in two weeks.”


Florida’s women worked as a pack, with all five scores crossing within a minute of each other, led by Ngetich in 24th with a time of 20:35.3. Junior Stephanie Strasser (Fernandina Beach, Fla.) and senior Callie Cooper (St. Augustine, Fla.) scored second and third for the Gators in 49th (21:00.8) and 61st (21:09.8) overall as UF’s top three all ran collegiate best times donning a Gator uniform.


“In a cross country race, a lot of times it’s very rare that you have all of your women run great on the same day – it’s a bit of a mixed bag where some run great, a couple are ok and a couple have an off day. We had that today,” Spangler assessed. “Florence ran a smart race, followed the race plan and was really patient for the first part of the race and moved up in the last couple of miles – she ran very, very well. Steph Strasser and Callie Cooper really stepped it up when a couple other girls had an off day, so I’m very happy with their performances.”


Junior newcomer Agata Strausa (Riga, Latvia), running her first cross country 6K, crossed 73rd (21:21.8) to score fourth for the Gators, while veteran senior Mandy Perkins (Ormond Beach, Fla.) turned in a 21:36.3 to round out UF’s top five.


Junior Shelby Hayes (Winter Park, Fla.) and freshman Julie Macedo (Wilmington, Del.) – running her first collegiate 6K – rounded out Florida’s competitors on the women’s side in 138th (21:51.7) and 197th (22:34.2) out of 265 female runners in the race field.


“Agata and Julie were both running their first 6Ks in competition, and both just had an off day. We know they are better than their performances today because we see it in practice, along with Shelby Hayes who didn’t have her best race either. I feel confident; we do have a couple of things to work on here and there tactically, but we have two weeks, these things are fixable and we’ll be ready for the SEC Championship,” Spangler added.


The Gators will now prep for the 2012 SEC Championship October 26, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn., hosted by Vanderbilt University. The women’s SEC race will kick off at 11 a.m., with the men to follow at noon. For all the latest on Florida track and field and cross country, follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneXCntry and @GZTrackField and on Facebook.




1.     Colorado, 72

2.     BYU, 127

3.     Oregon, 152

4.     FSU, 275

5.     Duke, 287

6.     Virginia Tech, 288

7.     Tulsa, 292

8.     Villanova, 338

9.     Georgetown, 351

10.   FLORIDA, 369



        16.      Mark Parrish, 23:43.2 *

        47.      JL Hines, 24:00.7 *

        96.      Jimmy Clark, 24:27.4 *

        99.      Eddie Garcia, 24:28.8 *

        111.    Matt Mizereck, 24:35.2

        129.    Josh Izewski, 24:40.7


        * denotes career-best mark




1.     FSU, 72

2.     Oregon, 87

3.     Michigan, 141

4.     Georgetown, 163

5.     Texas, 184

6.     William and Mary, 266

7.     Colorado, 273

7.     Villanova, 273

9.    FLORIDA, 308

10.  UC Davis, 320



        24.      Florence Ngetich, 20:35.3 *

        49.      Steph Strasser, 21:00.8 *

        61.      Callie Cooper, 21:09.8 *

        73.      Agata Strausa, 21:21.8 *

        101.    Mandy Perkins, 21:36.3

        138.    Shelby Hayes, 21:51.7

        197.    Julie Macedo, 22:34.2 *


        * denotes career-best mark




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