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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
<p dir="ltr">Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams took first place at their lone home meet of the season for the first time since 2016.</p>

Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams took first place at their lone home meet of the season for the first time since 2016.

After senior Jessica Pascoe crossed the finish line for the Gators and celebrated with fans, she began to wait for her teammates and the rest of the competitors at the finish line. She waited. She waited. And then she waited.

It was almost a full minute later when the next runner crossed the line.

Florida’s cross country team swept the Mountain Dew Invitational Saturday as both the men’s and women’s teams took first place at their lone home meet of the season for the first time since 2016.

For the women, it was more of the same. Coming off a win at the UNF Invitational on Aug. 30, expectations were high for Pascoe and the Gators.

The 2018 SEC Women’s Runner of the Year finished first in her season debut in the women’s 5K with a time of 16:54.74. In second was Florida junior Payton Capes-Davis with a time of 17:52.22.

Pascoe had control throughout the entire race and the result was never in doubt. The Australian-born runner has now placed in the top five in all four of her Mountain Dew Invitational appearances for the Gators, but she understands that it’s a team sport.

“I’m really happy with the team,” Pascoe said. “We had a lot of people step up and some will say it surprised people, but we’ve been seeing the work people have been putting in and it’s all coming out to show now.”

The women’s team was without redshirt senior Elisabeth Bergh and sophomore Imogen Barrett on Saturday. Bergh was out due to illness, and Barrett is still recovering from getting her wisdom teeth removed.

A significant loss considering the fact that Florida assistant coach Chris Solinsky referred to them as their “two and three” on the women’s team. Still, the women came away with the win as six Gators finished in the top 15 with an average team time of 18:03.27.

For the men, Solinsky’s initial reaction to the win was that it was a long time coming.

“About darn time,” Solinsky said.

The men’s team was coming off a disappointing loss at UNF and throughout the week Solinsky said that it would be a much better team on Saturday.

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Still, UNF sophomore Nathan Jubran wouldn’t let Florida forget about him.

Jubran (25:23.62) finished first in the men’s 8K and pointed to the crowd while crossing the finish line, and “shushing” the home crowd.

Jubran is quite familiar with UF. The sophomore came in first two weeks ago when the Ospreys defeated the Gators.

His win was not enough for the Ospreys, however. UNF finished second to the Gators who had an average team time of 25:55.81.

Florida had runners finish sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and 11th to secure the win. One of those runners was redshirt senior Jack Guyton (25:50.79), who finished seventh and did not care for Jubran’s gesture.

“That’s pretty disrespectful, but it’s a team sport,” Guyton said. “We’re the champions and UNF isn’t.”

The men’s team was led by redshirt sophomore Nick Deal (25:45.34) yet again. Deal has had a strong start to the season after coming second in the UNF Invitational behind Jubran and a sixth-place finish to lead all Gators on Saturday.

“I’m doing a lot better than the previous year,” Deal said. “I just think I’ve progressed really well. I’ve got to credit that to my teammates, my coaches and everyone who supports me. It’s been a good journey so far.”

Despite most of the cross country team suffering from illness or recently recovering from it, according to Solinsky, he said he was proud of the toughness that his runners showed and their performance overall.

“It’s going to get hard and it’s going to be tough, step up to that,” Solinsky said. “When it gets tough don’t surrender, don’t let it in. We’ve been talking about the ‘Gator standard’ and we’re trying to live up to that.”

Follow Joseph Salvador @JSalvadorSports. Contact him at jsalvador@alligator.org.

Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams took first place at their lone home meet of the season for the first time since 2016.

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