Coming off their only home meet of the season, the Gators men’s and women’s cross country teams will take to Apalachee Regional Park today for the Florida State Invitational.
“We’ve been doing a pretty good job in practice, (they’ve been) a little closer together and I think that’ll show come race day,” assistant coach Chris Solinsky said. “I think we’ve made some really good steps in training (and) I’m looking forward to seeing what that produces in a race environment (where) you shoot a gun and get a little more adrenaline on the line than just working out.”
Both teams have almost two weeks of training behind them as well as top-five finishes overall from their last meet at the Mountain Dew Invitational. The women’s team was able to take first for the fourth consecutive year, while the men’s team finished in third. Three runners from each team placed in the top 25.
“I think we can expect some tighter packs” Solinsky said. “On the men’s side we’ve put together some good packs but I think we can get (a) little further up in the overall race, and on the women’s side I think we can get tighter packs. (I’m) looking to see some improvements down the line on both the men’s and women’s side.”
Redshirt junior Lauren Perry was one of two Florida runners to finish in the top 10 in the women’s 5K at the Mountain Dew Invitational. As she heads into her last run of the regular season with the Gators, Perry can find a certain drive from performing at a rival course.
“It’s definitely nice to not have to travel halfway across the country for a meet, it’s just a quick trip,” Perry said. “And then also the fact that it is FSU, some of our girls are very familiar with the course, having raced there during high school or even regionals last year. I’ve never raced the course but there is definitely a motivation factor given that it is FSU.”
The Gators home meet on Sept. 23 marked the first 8K of the season for the men’s team. It also was the first 8K ever for redshirt freshman Blake Lowery, who led UF to third place with the fastest time on the team.
“We’re not traveling far to this meet so it’s really just a business trip, a check up to see where we are and making sure we’re going in the right direction come post-season,” Lowery said.
The men’s 8K this morning will begin at 7:40 a.m. and the women’s 5K at 8:20 a.m. This will be the Gators last meet of the regular season before the SEC Championships on Oct. 27.
“Inherently, being a Gator you wanna take down the Seminoles, and for us that doesn’t change this season,” Solinsky said. “I think we just wanna keep building the momentum, we’ve taken some really good steps forward since Mountain Dew and I’m really looking forward to seeing that on display Friday.”
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Junior Jessica Pascoe (middle) and senior Caitlin McQuilkin-Bell (right) compete in the Mountain Dew Invitational on Saturday at the Mark Bostick Golf Course in 2017 alongside former-Gator Lauren Perry.