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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Three Gators crossed the finish line of the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Oct. 14 with new personal records. Although the men's and women's teams finished in 32nd and 19th, respectively,  Florida’s runners clocked some of their best times collegiately.

And while inability to translate personal achievements to team success hindered the Gators from gaining national recognition, winning a Southeastern Conference Championship today on both the men’s and women’s side should get Gainesville on the map.

For the women to grab a third straight title, and the men to win their first since 1987, Florida will have to focus on a strong team finish rather than impressive individual results.

Sophomore Mark Parrish, who finished first among the Gators by achieving a new personal record in Wisconsin, says the team fell apart in the beginning of the race. Because the meet was so crowded and competitive, Florida was not able to stick to its strategy of running in a pack.

Morgan blames the “aggressive” training done in preparation, which wore down the runners before the large meet. After assessing the race, Morgan called his team “flat,” because although some runners had fantastic individual races, the team was not able to stick together resulting in a disappointing finish.

“Going into a really high profile meet a little flat, it can rattle your confidence,” Morgan said. “And that’s obviously what happened and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

The Gators remain confident even after a rattling performance in Wisconsin as they now compete in their conference championship in Knoxville, Tenn. A smaller field and a greater team focus by Florida gives its runners the belief they can bounce back.

“Next time we got to go out a little bit harder, be a little more aggressive at the beginning,” Parrish said. “Make sure we don’t get lost by the front pack.”

In the Wisconsin meet, 32 runners separated Parrish from the next Gator runner, sophomore Matt Mizereck. Mizereck was 70 runners ahead of his next teammate, showing the separation that killed the team’s hopes of finishing strong.

Morgan remains hopeful, differentiating the Wisconsin meet from the SEC race by calling it “a great meet where you can really link on and bring some teammates a little deeper into a race.”

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