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Friday, September 29, 2023

The Gators left the warm, humid Florida weather and got the cold shoulder in Wisconsin by some of the top competition in the country on Friday. 

Winners of two races already this season, the No. 28 Gators’ men’s team limped home from Madison, Wisc., with a 32nd-place finish out of 39 teams. The No. 22 women also played victim to the stiff competition, finishing 19th in a field of 44 teams.

After a three-week stay from competition, and more than a month of training within the Sunshine State, the Gators were unable to capitalize on their extended layoff. The fundamentals necessary to be successful at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational were ignored in coach Todd Morgan’s view.

“We knew it was going to be a competitive race field, but we didn’t stick to some things we talked about,” Morgan said. “In a field as competitive as today's, any problems you have are magnified very quickly.”

The bitter Wisconsin air was unwelcoming to both UF teams. Temperatures in the 50s coupled with high winds created conditions unseen by the Gators this season. However, the weather was only a snowflake in the metaphorical flurry of problems Florida had Friday.

Despite inviting tougher competition in Gainesville this year for the Mountain Dew Invitational this year, Florida seemed lost amidst some of the nation’s best.

Morgan blamed his own coaching for not properly preparing his teams to perform well in the Gators’ largest regular season meet. 

“This is not the result we were looking for today," he said, "but we’re going to figure out what we didn’t go right and we’re going to correct it, starting right now. We have a good team, and, ultimately, I didn’t have them prepared to run today.”

Senior Genevieve LaCaze and sophomore Mark Parrish led the women and men respectively with 33rd and 47th-place finishes. No other Gators ended the day in the top 50 individually.

No. 24 Washington won the team title in the women’s 6k, while host Wisconsin cruised after its second-ranked men placed five runners in the top 20 of the 8k race.

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