Since 2011, the Florida cross country team has started the season by sweeping the Western Carolina Invitational. This season, however, the team opted for the Covered Bridge Open hosted by Appalachian State instead.
Not only was the venue different, but the results were as well.
While the men’s team continued the trend of opening the season with a victory, the same couldn’t be said for the women.
Leading the way for the men were redshirt seniors Eddie Garcia and Jimmy Clark, who returned to action after sitting out last season to preserve an extra year of eligibility. While their performances earned them fourth and fifth place, coach Paul Spangler believes that they’ll get better as the season wears on.
“You don’t wanna come in (to the season) too sharp, because once you’re sharp, there’s a tendency to fall off the cliff,” he said. “As we progress into October, they’ll start to sharpen up.”
Clark and Garcia were expected to do well, but one name that wasn’t brought up was sixth place finisher Charles Chambers, whose time was only 6.18 seconds off of Clark.
”It thought it was a great race for him. I was very very pleased,” Spangler said. “I wasn’t surprised, really, to see him as our third runner but I was very pleased to see him so close to Eddie and Jimmy.”
As for the women, FSU was able to topple them despite UF placing four runners in the top-10.
Leading the way was the trio of Maria Larsen, Taylor Tubbs and Becky Greene, who finished in second, fifth, and sixth respectively.
One name that was notably absent from the top-tier of the team was sophomore Lauren Brasure, who placed ninth on the team and 39th overall.
“She’s not where she needs to be right now,” Spangler said of Brasure, while also noting her importance to the team. “Certainly she’s got some work to do if we’re gonna be successful.”
While second place has to be disappointing for the women’s team after winning the past four opening meets in a row, there’s still plenty of time for them to get “sharp” before meets start to count towards titles.
Both teams will have two weeks of training time before the next meet — the Mountain Dew Invitational in Gainesville on Sept. 19.
Follow Ethan Bauer on Twitter @ebaueri
Jimmy Clark races during the 2013 Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships at the Mark Bostick Golf Course