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Sunday, March 03, 2024

Florida cross country earns two top-three team finishes at the UCF Invitational

Gators cross country participated in two meets on Friday, earning top-three finishes at the UCF Invitational

Florida's Stephanie Ormsby competes during the Mountain Dew Invitational in Gainesville on Sept. 11.
Florida's Stephanie Ormsby competes during the Mountain Dew Invitational in Gainesville on Sept. 11.

The Florida Gators cross country team found themselves split into two different time zones on Friday’s meet day. 

Sixteen Gators competed in South Bend, Indiana, while 11 runners remained in the Sunshine State and represented the Gators in Orlando. Florida’s 27 runners posted a total of 21 personal-best times between the two meets on Friday. 

At the Notre Dame Joe Piane Invitational in South Bend, the men’s team finished in 22nd place in the 5-Mile race, while the women took home a 21st place finish in the 5K. Over in Orlando at the UCF Invitational, the men took home a first-place finish in the 6K race, and the women finished in second in the 5K. 

The day started off for the Gators in Indiana. Despite bottom-five team finishes for both the men and the women, several runners did leg out new personal bests.

For the men, freshman Matt Mule’ crossed the line first for the Gators with a personal-best time of 24:52.5. Mule’ finished the race in 84th place. Two of his teammates crossed the line soon after:’ Joe Wester finished in 90th place with a personal-best time of 24:55.4, while Angel Vicioso crossed the line in 92nd place with a time of 24:57.4. 

As for the women, Parker Valby once again led the charge for the Gators. Valby finished in 36th place out of a field of 192 runners. She set a new personal best as well with a final time of 16:54.3. 

Maria Fernandez followed next for the Gators in 69th place with her own personal-best time of 17:15.3. Emily Culley, Pamela O’Brien, Stephanie Ormsby, Jordan Shapiro and Liina Winborn also joined Valby and Fernandez and set personal bests in a parade of record times for Florida. 

The Gators posted more team success later in the evening in Orlando. 

The men took home the top spot in the UCF Invitational. The Gators also controlled the podium in the individual results, with top-three finishes from Javi Vento, Michael Fiore and Cade Monk. 

All three podium finishers set new personal-best times as well. Vento crossed the line first with a  time of 18:46.6, Fiore followed with a time of 18:55.7 and Monk rounded out the podium with a time of 18:59.9.

On the women’s side of the meet, the Gators finished in second place as a team. All five runners set personal records for the 5K race. 

Gianna Forte crossed first for the Gators and earned a second-place individual finish with a time of 16:47.9. Keleigh Scallon followed soon after in third place with a time of 16:53.7.

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The Gators’ next meet will be on Oct. 15 in Tallahassee for the Pre-Nationals competition. The men will run an 8K, and the women will run a 6K. 

Contact Sara Kate Dyson at Follow her on Twitter at @sarakatedyson.

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