If it takes 21 days to make a habit, Florida’s cross country teams are trying to do two better with 19 days between the Gators’ last meet and their next one.
The women and men took first and second, respectively, at the Mountain Dew Invitational on Sept. 24, giving coach Todd Morgan and his runners a positive outlook going into their nearly three-week training schedule.
“I was definitely pleased with where we are starting our more competitive phase of racing,” Morgan said. “We are really looking forward to having this three-week block to train, focus and prepare to make a big push toward the end of the year.”
Florida’s push begins Oct. 14 at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, where both the men and women finished seventh last year.
Morgan said their finishes were due to injuries on the women’s side and lack of experience for the men. Both issues, Morgan believes, won’t be a cause for concern this time around.
Instead, the Gators will have to face the problem of an “astronomically better” field of teams than last year. Florida runners will combat this issue the only way they know how: train harder and longer than before.
Sophomore Matt Mizereck, second overall in this year’s home event, said after the race the Gators “have a lot more work to do.”
Florida is 11 days into its crucial preparation, and as the race approaches, the runners grow more anxious to prove themselves to the rest of the nation.
The men and women, both ranked in the top 30 in the country (No. 28 and No. 22, respectively), look at the rankings as motivation to push further.
“We have been given this opportunity early in the season to prove ourselves,” senior Genevieve LaCaze said of the team’s early ranking.
“So why not aim high and challenge for a higher spot?”
To Morgan, the only standings that matter to him are in November, when the season concludes. But Florida’s coach is willing to use the current rankings as a motivational tool during this extended training period.
He enjoys seeing his runners use it as a catalyst to run harder, calling them “competitive, hard-nosed men and women.”
However, they realize a higher ranking can only be earned through a strong finish at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational.
The Gators are eager to show the country that with 19 days of intense workouts behind the leadership of an award-winning coach, they can make success a matter of routine.
Runner Genevieve LaCaze said the Gators will seek to improve their national ranking at the adidas Invitational on Oct. 14.