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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Jeremy Criscione saved his best effort for his last cross country race as a Gator.

The senior, who had already made his mark on UF's program by setting numerous records and garnering plenty of accolades, became the school's seventh cross country All-American on Monday afternoon by finishing 20th overall in the men's 10K race at the NCAA Championship.

"He's been such a key guy for the program over his four years, and to see him so successful in his last meet in the uniform with such a phenomenal run, it was exciting for me to watch," UF coach Todd Morgan said.

Criscione, running as an individual participant for the second straight year because UF's team failed to qualify, dramatically improved on his 99th-place finish in 2007 with a time of 29:55.9, about 48 seconds faster than his previous best 10K time of 30:43.64.

"I couldn't have asked for anything more, other than maybe to finish a few places ahead," Criscione said. "My goal was to be an All-American. Coach Morgan told me earlier in the week about the change to All-Americans being only the top 40 runners, and I was a little bummed by that.

"But then I was like, 'You know what? I was planning on trying to get higher than that anyway.'"

Oregon's Galen Rupp edged out Liberty's Samuel Chelanga to win the men's individual title, and Rupp led the Ducks to their second straight national championship.

The Gators women's team also competed in Terre Haute, Ind., finishing 17th out of 31 teams with 454 points in its 6K race.

Washington won the women's national title with 79 points, and Texas Tech's Sally Kipyego won her third straight individual championship.

Freshman Genevieve LaCaze once again led the way for UF, finishing in 75th with a time of 21:00.3. She was followed closely by sophomore Charlotte Browning, who clocked in at 21:03.4, good for 82nd place. The other scorers for the Gators were senior Jacy Kruzel (122nd, 21:21.1) and sophomores Ali Crabb (147th, 21:34.2) and Kaitlin Shiver (154th, 21:37.3).

"Even though the times were a lot faster than last year, the positions weren't," Browning said, referring to the team's 11th-place finish last year. "It kind of reflects just how competitive the NCAA was this year."

Browning said she and her teammates were somewhat upset with their final position, but they were encouraged by the improvement the team had made, especially after finishing second in both the Southeastern Conference and the South Region.

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"We had a really good season," she said. "The fact that we were slightly disappointed today, I think that's reflected how good of a season that we've had."

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