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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
<p>Senior Agata Strausa (left) races at the Mountain Dew Invitational on Sept. 14 in Gainesville. </p>

Senior Agata Strausa (left) races at the Mountain Dew Invitational on Sept. 14 in Gainesville. 

With the Wisconsin adidas Invitational looming, Florida is looking to determine the top seven runners who will compete on Oct. 19 in Madison.

The first group to show what they’ve got is the men, who are running at the Florida Runners Invitational being held in Titusville today.

“We’re going to give our top guys a chance to rest and train through this weekend,” coach Paul Spangler said. “We have the big Wisconsin meet coming up. We’re going to take a small group of guys (to Titusville) and give them an opportunity to race a 5K, which is something we don’t normally get an opportunity to race.”

The meet will help Spangler determine who will round out his top seven. According to Spangler, Florida’s top four is effectively set with Jimmy Clark, Mark Parrish, Eddie Garcia and J.L. Hines. Carlos Miranda was UF’s fifth runner at this year’s Mountain Dew Invitational.

“Your top five guys make up your team score” Spangler said.” [Miranda] ran great.”

With the top four set, three spots are left for 10 runners.

“All we need is one guy to really step it up,” Spangler said. “That person to be our fifth we want to be as close to our fourth as possible.”

The depth of the men’s team is a luxury Spangler appreciates.

With many athletes competing at a high level, hoping to earn a spot at the heralded Wisconsin meet, motivation is not an issue.

“It’s definitely a plus,” Spangler said of the surplus of athletes. “You don’t want to have to count on one guy. You’d love to have four or five (athletes) on any given day and have one step up.”

While the men have plenty of talent, the women’s team is suffering from a lack of eligible runners.

Injuries and sickness have ravaged the squad, with Shelby Hayes and Stephanie Strasser out since the season opener at Western Carolina.

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“Whereas the men are healthy, the women are a little banged up and sick, so (this break) will give the women a chance to recover and be ready to race in a couple of weeks,” Spangler said.

The women’s auditions for Wisconsin will be held at the Disney Cross Country Classic in Orlando, one week before Wisconsin.

Spangler, along with the rest of the team, hopes to have both Strasser and Hayes back by then.

“Steph and Shelby: possibly,” Spangler said when asked if Strasser and Hayes will run at the Disney Classic. “We have a couple weeks to look at where they’re at physically. Both of them are sick and a little banged up.”

Fortunately for the women, they have another two weeks to recuperate.

For the time being, it’s the men’s turn. Today, Spangler hopes to solidify his fifth runner above all else.

“If one of those guys can get within 20 seconds of our fourth runner, we’ll be alright,” he said.

Follow Gordon Streisand on Twitter @GordonStreisand.

Senior Agata Strausa (left) races at the Mountain Dew Invitational on Sept. 14 in Gainesville. 

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