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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The UF women's cross country team received an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships while the men's team did not. Neither met expectations at the NCAA South Region Championship Saturday.

Both teams finished third, just one spot shy of an automatic bid to the national championship.

The men fell to No. 17 Alabama and Florida State, while the women finished behind No. 3 Florida State and No. 29 Georgia.

Junior Jeremy Criscione, who did receive an automatic bid as an individual to the national championships, finished seventh overall and led the Gators with a career-best 10k time of 30:43.64.

"I didn't have the finish I wanted to, as strong as I wanted to, but I was still able to move up a little bit," Criscione said.

However, his teammates weren't able to follow the same path.

"You can't expect everybody to have a great race every time, and it's not like they didn't try," Criscione said. "I know everybody gave it their best."

Senior Enoch Nadler, usually one of the Gators' most dependable runners, struggled throughout the race and finished 31st overall to round out the top five.

"It was the last thing he wanted," UF coach Jeff Pigg said. "He's put so much effort into it, and unfortunately it didn't happen quite the way he wanted."

The men and women had similar starts to their races, running as a pack at the front and keeping pace with the other top teams.

For the women, senior Lindsay Sundell took the reins and finished 10th overall en route to leading the team with a 6k time of 21:00.78. Her performance marks the second time this season she has finished first at home.

"I kind of just started having fun," Sundell said.

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Despite the team finishing just shy of the No. 2 spot, Sundell was happy with the effort.

"It's a little disappointing, but I think we did pretty well," she said. "We definitely come through when it counts, so I think we're alright now."

Pigg, however, showed frustration, knowing how close his runners came to capping the finish they wanted.

"I'm disappointed," he said "But I'm not a senior. It isn't my last meet."

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