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<p>UF's Taylor Tubs races during the 2015 Mountain Dew Invitational on Sept. 19, 2015, at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.</p>

UF's Taylor Tubs races during the 2015 Mountain Dew Invitational on Sept. 19, 2015, at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.

The Florida men’s and women’s cross country teams dominated the season’s first meet, finishing first on both sides at the Covered Bridge Open.

But that doesn’t mean coach Paul Spangler isn’t expecting improvement out of his players as the season marches on.

“Yeah it was a good start. Happy with the result,” Spangler said. “But we’ve gotta get better because we know that everybody else is, too.”

While training and practice can help a team prepare for challenges ahead, a new runner can add an entirely new dynamic to an already strong squad.

Enter Jessica Pascoe.

The freshman from Australia is a highly coveted runner who couldn’t make the trip to the Covered Bridge Open. Instead, she will see action for the first time at the Mountain Dew Invitational in Gainesville on Sept. 24.

“She just got back in the country a week ago, and so she missed a little bit of class and we didn’t want to take her out of anymore, so she didn’t go on the trip,” Spangler said. “She’ll race at Mountain Dew, and I think she makes us a lot better.”

Pascoe has a promising resume internationally, finishing 20th in the 2014 Under-18 Division Australian Cross Country Championships and winning the 2016 Australian Junior Cross Country Championships in August.

Spangler is expecting improvement from another pair of fresh faces in freshmen Hannah Brookover and Maggie Parrish, who finished eighth and 19th, respectively, in the season’s first meet.

“I think for a freshman coming in, especially for their first race, can be a little bit intimidating and I thought they handled it great,” Spangler said.

Brookover’s finish was the highest among the freshmen on the women’s team, and Parrish placed second in that same group.

Although relatively new runners gather a lot of excitement in the beginning of the year, it is up to the veterans to carry the team in crucial times.

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Seniors Taylor Tubbs, Carlos Miranda and Mac Reynolds, who all had top-five finishes at the Covered Bridge, must continue to perform well in order for Florida to have a shot at the NCAA Championships later this year.

“Get to the nationals,” Tubbs said. “That’ll be the number one goal.”

Contact Skyler Lebron at slebron@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @SkylerLebron.

UF's Taylor Tubs races during the 2015 Mountain Dew Invitational on Sept. 19, 2015, at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.

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