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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
<p>Freshman runner Carlos Miranda (above) earned&nbsp;his first collegiate victory on Friday at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational&nbsp;in the 5K with a time of 15:17.60.&nbsp;</p>

Freshman runner Carlos Miranda (above) earned his first collegiate victory on Friday at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in the 5K with a time of 15:17.60. 

The picture is starting to come into focus.

Last Friday, Florida’s men competed in their final event leading up to the Wisconsin adidas Invitational.

Prior to Friday’s FLRunners.com Invitational in Titusville, coach Paul Spangler said this meet was essentially an audition designed to solidify the Gators’ top seven runners for Wisconsin.

Freshman Carlos Miranda earned one of those spots.

Miranda tallied his first collegiate victory on Friday in the 5K with a time of 15:17.60.

At UF’s previous meet, the Mountain Dew Invitational, Miranda drew praise from Spangler after running a personal best at the Mark Bostick Golf Course, which is known as one of the more difficult courses in the NCAA due to its uneven terrain.

“Last year, everybody’s PRs came out of pre-nationals in Louisville,” Spangler said. “That course is flat. Our course is pretty tough, so if you ran a lifetime PR out here, that’s pretty dang good.”

JRedshirt freshmen Elliot Clemente and Mac Reynolds and sophomore Harsha Torke, who finished in second, third, and fourth, respectively, joined Miranda in the top five.

“It was a solid race for the men, with Carlos winning,” Spangler said. “It was a great victory for him, as he also won here last year in high school. Carlos, Mac, Elliot and Harsha worked together most of the race. Carlos did an excellent job holding of a challenge from the runner-up in the final 400m of the race this evening.”

After redshirting his first year, Clemente is excited to be back in the fold. He placed second Friday and has a chance to make the top seven in Wisconsin.

“Not being able to run last year was definitely a downer,” Clemente said. “Coming in my freshman year, I wasn’t able to be part of the top seven or travel with the squad. This year, now that I’m part of it, it’s definitely a lot of fun.”

Moving forward, Spangler has the task of determining who exactly will fill out the top seven.

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Spangler had said earlier last week that the men’s top four was set. Mark Parrish, Jimmy Clark, J.L. Hines and Eddie Garcia comprise the group.

In two weeks, the women will compete in the Disney Cross Country Classic in Orlando with the hopes of solidifying their top seven for Wisconsin, too.

While the men’s squad is healthy and deep, the women’s squad has been compromised early this season by injuries and sickness.

They’ve been without top runners Shelby Hayes and Stephanie Strasser since the first meet of the season, not to mention Cory McGee, who redshirted last year and is set to return this season at Wisconsin.

When asked if all three were going to run at the Wisconsin Invitational, Spangler said he “certainly hopes so.”

“Thats the plan,” he said.

The men are enjoying their strong start to the season all the while. Having been more than 25 years since the men have won a title, this year’s squad hopes to buck the trend.

“This year, compared to last year, we’re a lot more focused in practices,” Clemente said. “We take the easy runs seriously. We don’t mess around. I feel like we’re a lot more unified as a team.”

Follow Gordon Streisand on Twitter @GordonStreisand.

Freshman runner Carlos Miranda (above) earned his first collegiate victory on Friday at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in the 5K with a time of 15:17.60. 

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