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Cross Country Headline

Photo by: Cheryl Treworgy, PrettySporty.com

Saturday November 17, 2012Gators Wrap Up 2012 Cross Country Season at NCAAs in Louisville; Women Check In 23rd Overall

Louisville, Ky.

Photo by: Cheryl Treworgy, PrettySporty.com

UF’s cross country squads were off to the races Saturday in Louisville at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park for the 2012 National Championship, where the women’s team turned in a 23rd-place overall finish, its second-best performance since 2009 in its last six trips to nationals.

 

Senior Florence Ngetich (Eldama Ravine, Kenya) led the way for the Florida on the women’s side, crossing 54th overall in the field and scoring first for the Orange and Blue with 40 points. On the men’s side, UF junior Mark Parrish (Tampa, Fla.) and sophomore Jimmy Clark (St. Johns, Fla.) competed as individuals for the Gators, Parrish finishing 174th and Clark 196th in the field of 245 men’s athletes.

 

“We had a solid race on the women’s side,” Florida assistant track and cross country coach Paul Spangler said. “I thought all of the women really did a nice job. Agata (Strausa) did a much better job than she did at regionals and Shelby (Hayes) did a great job compared to Pre-Nationals on the same course. I was certainly proud of them and the men. I’m really proud of the job the women have done this year from winning the SEC Championship to making it to nationals as a team, which were certainly two of our goals coming into this season.”

 

Oregon claimed the women’s team title Saturday with 114 points, while favorite Oklahoma State won the men’s national championship with a 72-point finish at the earliest-ever NCAA Cross Country Championships after the new date formula for NCAAs was instituted this season.

 

With individual NCAA bids for Clark and Parrish, the men’s program had representation at nationals for the third straight season, last qualifying as a team in 2011 after sending an individual in 2010. Florida’s team bid on the women’s side had UF competing at NCAAS for the sixth time in the last seven seasons as a team – last in 2010. Florida’s women placed the highest in history at NCAAs in 2009 (seventh) for the squad’s first-ever top-10 finish, while the men were sixth in 1990 for the men’s program’s best NCAA finish.

 

Behind Ngetich’s lead in UF women’s action, junior Agata Strausa (Riga, Latvia), senior Callie Cooper (St. Augustine, Fla.) and juniors Shelby Hayes (Winter Park, Fla.) and Steph Strasser (Fernandina Beach, Fla.) rounded out Florida’s top-five scoring corps on the afternoon in Louisville, scoring 74th, 95th, 139th and 170th, respectively, in the women’s team race.

 

“It was amazing being here. I really like this course and had a great race on this course at Pre-Nationals,” Strasser remarked. “The weather was great and everyone felt good going into the race. We did our team bonding last night and our team meeting. Today, everyone gave a solid effort. It’s at the point in the season where we’re all just really tired, but that’s how you should feel, it’s not supposed to be easy. In big races like this, it doesn’t always going according to planned – you can plan all you want, but when you’re in the race you just have to go. I think we all handled it well and ran really solid races. We wanted top 10, that was our ultimate goal, but anything can happen and anyone can have an off or on day. Beating Vandy and Georgia from the SEC was really good. We all had to finish as strong as we could today. In my personal race, I wanted to finish in the top 150, and I was top 170. We did our very best and pushed as hard as we could and gave it our all, leaving it all out there at the finish. Our team placing 23rd is our second-best NCAA finish other than our amazing seventh-place finish in 2009.”

 

Senior Mandy Perkins (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and first-year Gator Shelby Davidson (Melbourne, Fla.) wrapped up UF’s competitors on the ladies side as the duo crossed finish 195th and 204th in the team scoring race.

 

 “Looking ahead, we need to help the women’s team to be in a position to contend for SEC Championships both indoors and outdoors on the track and score some points in the distance races,” Spangler added. “With the bulk of our crew coming back and adding the All-American Cory McGee back in, we’ll have higher goals for next year and work hard during the off season to come in and have a better performance next year.”

 

Parrish and Clark, making their second straight nationals appearances after running with the men’s squad at 2011 nationals in Terre Haute, Ind., raced tough and battled with an ultra-competitive men’s field aiming for top-40 All-America status. Parrish clocked a 31:22.0 in the NCAA 10K, while Clark turned in a 31:37.2 to finish 174th and 196th.

 

“Today’s race was a pretty tough race,” Parrish reflected. “You have one of those every once in a while, but you have to go through and finish it. I put in a good effort, so I can’t be super disappointed. It’s not what I wanted, but I’ll use that as motivation going forward into track season. I’m excited for that – it’s something different that I haven’t done in a couple of years, so that will be exciting. It was a tough day, for whatever reason, and you have to roll with those sometimes because they happen. It was a great trip up here. We had a really good time. We went to the Ohio River and did a run yesterday – that was really nice. The course was great today. It was nice and quick – even though I may not have been my quickest – but it was fast and a great day to go for a run.”

 

The University of Florida cross country squad will now focus its efforts on the 2013 indoor and outdoor track and field seasons. The Gators will first be in action for the 2013 indoor season Jan. 12 at the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener in Birmingham, Ala.

 

Stay tuned to www.GatorZone.com/crosscountry and follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneXCntry and @GZTrackField for a complete 2012 cross country season recap and information and updates as the 2013 indoor track season approaches.

 

 

TOP 10 WOMEN’S TEAM FINISHERS

1.     Oregon, 114

2.     Providence, 183

3.     Stanford, 198

4.     Florida State, 202

5.     Michigan, 247

6.     Arizona, 263

7.     Duke, 300

8.     Connecticut, 304

9.     Washington, 334

10.   New Mexico, 341

23.  FLORIDA, 518

 

WOMEN’S 6K INDIVIDUAL NATIONAL CHAMPION

1.     Betsy Saina, Iowa State: 19:27.9

 

FLORIDA WOMEN’S 6K FINISHERS

54. Florence Ngetich (scored 40th), 20:24.6

101. Agata Strausa (scored 74th), 20:48.6

127. Callie Cooper (scored 95th), 20:59.0

176. Shelby Hayes (scored 139th), 21:20.9

208. Steph Strasser (scored 170th), 21:33.8

233. Mandy Perkins (scored 195th), 21:51.4

242. Shelby Davidson (scored 204), 22:05.1

 

 

 

TOP 10 MEN’S TEAM FINISHERS

1.     Oklahoma State, 72

2.     Wisconsin, 135

3.     Colorado, 158

4.     Northern Arizona, 191

5.     Florida State, 238

6.     BYU, 245

7.     Tulsa, 247

8.     Oklahoma, 262

9.     Texas 291

10.   Arkansas, 327

 

MEN’S 10K INDIVIDUAL NATIONAL CHAMPION

1.     Kennedy Kithuka, Texas Tech: 28:31.3

 

FLORIDA MEN’S 10K FINISHERS

174. Mark Parrish, 31:22.0

196. Jimmy Clark, 31:37.2

 

 

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA COACH AND RUNNER QUOTES

Florida Assistant Track and Field & Cross Country Coach Paul Spangler

On the team’s effort and finish at 2012 NCAAs:

“We had a solid race on the women’s side; I thought all of the women really did a nice job. Agata (Strausa) did a much better job than she did at regionals and Shelby (Hayes) did a great job compared to Pre-Nationals on the same course. I was certainly proud of them and the men. I’m really proud of the job they’ve done this year from winning the SEC Championship to making it to nationals as a team, which were certainly two of our goals coming into this season.”

 

On looking ahead to the 2013 Florida track season and beyond:

“Looking ahead, we need to help the women’s team to be in a position to contend for SEC Championships both indoors and outdoors on the track and score some points in the distance races. With the bulk of our crew coming back and adding the All-American Cory McGee back in, we’ll have higher goals for next year and work hard during the off season to come in and have a better performance next year.”

 

 

Junior Stephanie Strasser

On wrapping up the cross season at NCAAs:

“It was amazing being here. I really like this course and had a great race on this course at Pre-Nationals. The weather was great and everyone felt good going into the race. We did our team bonding last night and our team meeting. Today, everyone gave a solid effort. It’s at the point in the season where we’re all just really tired, but that’s how you should feel, it’s not supposed to be easy. In big races like this, it doesn’t always going according to the plan – you can plan all you want, but when you’re in the race you just have to go. I think we all handled it well and ran really solid races. We wanted top 10, that was our ultimate goal, but anything can happen and anyone can have an off or on day. Beating Vandy and Georgia from the SEC was really good. We all had to finish as strong as we could today. In my personal race, I wanted to finish in the top 150, and I was top 170. We did our very best and pushed as hard as we could and gave it our all, leaving it all out there at the finish. Our team placing 23rd is our second-best NCAA finish other than our amazing seventh-place finish in 2009.”

 

On looking forward to the 2013 indoor and outdoor track season:

“Right now, we’re just setting ourselves up for a great track season. Everyone is so fit, and more importantly healthy. We have the least amount of injuries as a group than we’ve had with any other group. We have the next two weeks off to train on our own, rest and relax and we’re going to come back with this great base from cross country. We have a great cross country team, but we’re also known for our great track team.”

 

 

Senior Callie Cooper

On her final cross country race as a Gator and looking forward to track:

“We really wanted to go out today with a bang. Everything felt really good heading into this race, but then my first step across the start line, I felt something pull in my hamstring. I’ve never felt that before in my life, it felt like a bad cramp the whole race. I don’t think it affected me as far as my ability to race – it was my last race – but it kind of distracted me and I wasn’t able to grind through the race as much as I wanted to. We all had a solid day and I ran faster on this course than I did here at Pre-Nationals, so that’s an improvement. I definitely think we all wish we could have done a little bit better and we might be just a little disappointed. This year in general, we all did a great job of coming together as a team and this was the culminating point. It’s bittersweet being my last cross country race, but I’m still really looking forward to track. Everyone is going to be in a really good place come January and track season.”

 

 

Junior Mark Parrish

On Saturday’s NCAA race for him:

“Today’s race was a pretty tough race. You have one of those every once in a while, but you have to go through and finish it. I put in a good effort, so I can’t be super disappointed. It’s not what I wanted, but I’ll use that as motivation going forward into track season. I’m excited for that – it’s something different that I haven’t done in a couple of years, so that will be exciting. It was a tough day, for whatever reason, and you have to roll with those sometimes because they happen.”

 

On being in Louisville and the trip to NCAAs:

“It was a great trip up here. We had a really good time. We went to the Ohio River and did a run yesterday – that was really nice. The course was great today. It was nice and quick – even though I may not have been my quickest – but it was fast and a great day to go for a run.”

 

 

 

 

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