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Thursday, February 25, 2021
<p>The Gators placed third at the Mountain Dew Invitational Friday. It was the first UF sporting event in six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.</p>

The Gators placed third at the Mountain Dew Invitational Friday. It was the first UF sporting event in six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The opening meet of the season for Florida took place Friday morning as the Mountain Dew Invitational took place at Mark Bostick Golf. The Gators took third as they welcomed three ACC schools to the Swamp in Florida State University, University of Miami, and Georgia Tech. 

The men’s 8k race began the day when the gun went off at 7:55 am. Each school varied greatly in the amount of runners at the line: UM had five, FSU had 10, UF had 11 and Georgia Tech had the largest group with 23. 

At the first split on the course, FSU led the way, occupying the first five spots. Three Florida runners followed shortly after with Caden Monk, Ethan Geiger and Angel Vicioso being recorded at fifth, sixth and seventh. Despite the three Gators near the top of the pack, the team found itself in third place with 54 points, behind FSU in first on 15 points and Georgia Tech in second with 59. 

The second split did not fare better for the Gators as they kept their position in third but were on 69 points. Georgia Tech made its biggest gain of the race at this point as it went from 54 points recorded at the first split to 49, although still far behind leaders FSU with 20 points. 

The third split showed promise for the Gators as Geiger jumped six places to third and Vicioso jumped three places to fourth. The team stayed in third, but its points were brought down from 69 to 55- the biggest decrease of any school in the race. 

At the finish line, Paul Stafford of FSU was the champion of the race, recording a time of 24:44.9 and leading the Seminoles to a decisive victory, only having 19 points. Georgia Tech was next in second with a final score of 53 points. Florida was in third with 68 points and Miami in fourth, having 110 points. 

The women’s 6k was up next on the day at 8:30. The four schools had very drastic differences in the amount of athletes running, with Georgia Tech and FSU at 17 and 21, respectively. On the other hand, Florida and Miami had a small amount in just four and five. 

Like the men’s race, FSU had the lead at the first split with 26 points but with Georgia Tech in a close second with 29. This is also where a UF athlete would see the highest position on the day, as senior Payton Capes-Davis came in at eleventh. 

Split two saw a change in the leader of the race as the Yellow Jackets of GT took the lead by a single point edging out FSU 28-29. Georgia Tech kept their lead at the end of the race, securing the win with 25 points. FSU came in second with 30 and UM in third at 83. Since a team needs at least five runners to be officially scored, Florida took a DNP due to only having four runners.

The next meet for the Gators will be in Tallahassee on October 2nd where they’ll race in the FSU invitational.

Contact Myles Herbert at mherbert@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @myles_herbert.

The Gators placed third at the Mountain Dew Invitational Friday. It was the first UF sporting event in six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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