As the sun rose and the humid air of a Gainesville September morning surrounded the Mark Bostick Golf Course, cross country runners from around Florida gathered in preparation for the first meet of the season.
Runners, families and spectators alike scattered around the course, some anxious in anticipation and others ready to offer encouragement to runners of all teams.
Early Saturday morning, the Gators cross country teams took home team victories on both the men’s and women’s sides at the Mountain Dew Invitational. Three individual runners also managed to capture top-three finishes in the race.
The men kicked off the race day at 7:55 a.m. with a 6K competition. Freshman Ethan Geiger was the first Gator to cross the finish line. Geiger finished the race in second place with a time of 18:32.3. Redshirt junior Nick Deal finished next for the Gators in fourth, and sophomore Angel Vicioso followed behind in sixth.
The men’s victory marks their first top finish since the 2019 season. In last year’s Mountain Dew Invitational, the men finished third in the team competition.
As for the women, the Gators also took home a team victory, along with two individual top-three finishes in the 4K race.
Freshman Parker Valby crossed the finish line as the first Gator, earning second place individually. Valby finished the race with a time of 13:44.9. Redshirt sophomore Pamela O’Brien finished in third place with a final time of 14:02.6. Stephanie Ormsby was the third Gator to cross the finish line. She finished the race in fourth place at 14:06.7.
In last year’s Invitational, the women did not place, so a first-place finish is certainly a more positive outcome for the Florida runners. This also marks the first No. 1 finish for the women since the 2019 season.
The Gators will travel to South Bend, Indiana, for their next meet where they will compete in the Notre Dame Joe Piane Invitational on Oct. 1.
Contact Sara Kate Dyson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @sarakatedyson