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Friday, May 24, 2024
<p>Mac Reynolds races during the 2014 Mountain Dew Invitational on UF's Mark Bostick Golf Course.</p>

Mac Reynolds races during the 2014 Mountain Dew Invitational on UF's Mark Bostick Golf Course.

The last time a Florida cross country team travelled to the Paul Short Run at Lehigh University was in 2014.

Only the women went. Senior Taylor Tubbs was only a sophomore runner at the time and competed on a Gators team that was largely composed of underclassmen talent.

The story heading into the 2016 Paul Short Run on Saturday hasn’t changed much for the Gators' runners since their last appearance at the meet.

Both the men and women’s teams are very young. For the men, 18 out of the 20 runners on the team are freshmen, sophomores or redshirt sophomores, and nobody on the team has made the trip to Pennsylvania. And for the women, 15 out of the 18 athletes are underclassmen, with only Tubbs, senior Amber Johnson and redshirt junior Becky Greene having competed at Lehigh University before.

“We’ve got to go out there with our ‘A-game’ and be ready to go come this Saturday,” coach Paul Spangler said.

And the Gators’ “A-game” has been good so far this season.

The senior tandem of Carlos Miranda and Mac Reynolds will lead the men's team into Saturday’s meet. They have each placed together in the top five in the first two meets of the season. They are followed by a flurry of underclassmen talent in sophomores Jack Beitter, Jack Guyton, Magnus Pettersen and freshman Colin Schaefer, who have all posted top-10 finishes this season.

The Gator women have also shown a lot of promise from their young runners. Sophomores Elisabeth Bergh, Lauren Perry and Noora Wallenius have finished in the top 10 along with freshmen Hannah Brookover and Jessica Pascoe.

Yet for many of the young Florida athletes, the Paul Short Run will be an especially tough test.

This weekend’s meet features some of the most talented teams in the nation and is sure to be the Gators’ most challenging meet of the year so far. Spangler calls this meet the start of “the meat and potatoes” of the teams’ schedules.

The men will be opposite top-25 competition in No. 8 Georgetown, No. 16 Iona and No. 25 Columbia.

The Gator women will experience a similar challenge, facing No. 19 Georgetown and No. 22 Pennsylvania.

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“It’s a high level competition coming up,” said Spangler. “The last two (meets) have been good preparation for that.”

Contact Mark Stine at and follow him on Twitter @mstinejr.

Mac Reynolds races during the 2014 Mountain Dew Invitational on UF's Mark Bostick Golf Course.

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