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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

If you thought your transition to college was difficult, think of what it has been like for UF freshman cross country runner Genevieve LaCaze.

LaCaze moved to Gainesville from Queensland, Australia, so her adjustment has involved much more than just getting used to life as a student athlete. And she hasn't just had to acclimate herself to the big campus and massive number of students.

She's had to adjust to life in America itself.

"It's been interesting," LaCaze said. "I wouldn't say hard and I wouldn't say difficult and I wouldn't say scary. I would say interesting because everything here is just very different."

LaCaze added that everything really is bigger in America, including the size of her team. She was the only girl on her team back home.

"It's making me enjoy it and appreciate it more," she said. "At home, maybe I was getting a bit bored with it because it was just for me. When you're out there now, there are five or six other girls depending on how you run as well."

Despite that assumed pressure, LaCaze said she was not nervous at all before the Mountain Dew Invitational on Sept. 20, the team's season-opening race. She finished first with a time of 17:34.79, the fifth-fastest time ever run in a 5K race on the UF Golf Course.

LaCaze felt she ran so well in the first race because, as a freshman, not much was expected of her. She said she will face a bit more pressure in Friday's Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind. That's what happens when you finish in first place.

"I'm not putting any pressure on her," coach Todd Morgan said. "She already wants to succeed enough as it is. With freshmen, I try to keep it where they can enjoy this time of not being leaned on too much."

LaCaze said her teammates are constantly encouraging her, and they have been very helpful in easing her transition in every way.

Senior Sara Petrick said she can remember how hard the transition was when she was a freshman, so she has tried to motivate LaCaze while training and to help her feel at home at UF.

"We normally work out together and cheer each other on," Petrick said. "Also, I'll ask her if she wants to go to the grocery store or simple things just to help her adjust."

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