UF's men's and women's cross country teams opened their 2018 campaigns with a bang on Friday, bringing home impressive finishes at the UNF Invitational in Jacksonville.
The women managed to come away with the opening-meet victory due to a clean sweep of the top four. Junior Jessica Pascoe (9:36.1) took first place, while redshirt junior Elisabeth Bergh (10:04.5) finished as the runner-up.
Seniors Caitlin McQuilkin-Bell (10:09.5) and Morgan Hull (10:11.4) rounded out the top four, while freshman Imogen Barrett (10:38.9) snagged a seventh-place finish.
The women's performance left assistant coach Chris Solinsky highly encouraged after the race.
"I thought the women did a really good job of establishing position early, working together mid race and competing hard all the way through," Solinsky said in a press release. "We are light years ahead of where we were last year and that's a reflection of a lot of hard work. We still have a lot of areas to work on, but this was a great first race."
As for the men, they had a strong meet in their own right, placing in second place behind the host of the event, North Florida.
Five Gators finished in the top 15. Redshirt freshman Nick Deal registered the best time for the men, placing fifth (15:35.5) in his first collegiate race. His teammate, redshirt sophomore Colin Schaefer was the only other Gator for the men's team to place in the top 10, securing a ninth-place finish (15:44.3).
Redshirt junior Jack Guyton (15:49.3), redshirt sophomore Jessie Millson (15:53.0) and redshirt junior Jack Rogers (15:57.3) completed UF's top-15 finishers, ending the race in 11th, 12th and 13th, respectively. Rogers set a personal best in the 5k.
"The men did a good job of getting off the line and reacting to the race," Coach Solinsky said. "We left three of our top seven home to put in some more work, so we only get stronger. We are in a good spot moving forward."
The Florida cross country team now has two weeks off to prepare for the Mountain Dew Invitational, which will take place in Gainesville at Mark Bostick Golf Course.
The meet is scheduled for Sept. 22 at 8 a.m.
You can follow Evan Lepak on Twitter @evanmplepakkk or contact him at email@example.com.
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.