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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Gators cross country posts 15 personal bests at the Pre-Nationals Invitational

The Florida Gators cross country team earned three top-30 team finishes at Pre-Nationals in Tallahassee on Friday

Florida's Grace Blair competes during the Mountain Dew Invitational in Gainesville on Sept. 11.
Florida's Grace Blair competes during the Mountain Dew Invitational in Gainesville on Sept. 11.

Early Friday morning, the Florida cross country team set up on the start line in Seminole territory, ready to compete against some of the top-ranked runners in the country. 

While the Gators did not repeat the top-three finishes they earned at the UCF Invitational earlier in the month. They did secure a trio top-30 team finishes and 15 personal bests at the Pre-Nationals Invitational on Friday. 

In the men’s Garnet 8K race, the Gators finished 30th out of 40 teams. The rest of the Florida men’s team placed 12th out of 31 teams in the open 8K. On the women’s side, the Gators finished 16th out of 33 teams in the Garnet 6K, but  did not have a team place in the open 6K. 

The Gators continued to improve individually in Tallahassee, with 15 runners earning new personal bests. 

For the men, freshman Ethan Geiger crossed the finish line first for the Gators in the Garnet 8K. He posted a personal-best time of 24:22.9 to finish in 123rd place out of 304 runners. 

Freshmen Joe Wester, Josh Stern, Javi Vento, Matt Mule’ and redshirt sophomore Cavan Wilson also finished the Garnet 8K with a new personal best. Freshmen Michael Fiore, Ryan Miller, Orlando Cicilioni and Aiden Villasuso earned personal bests in the open 8K. 

In the women’s Garnet 6K, freshman Parker Valby was the first Gator to cross the finish line for the third meet in a row, repeating the feat in each competition she’s run this season. She finished in 28th place out of 246 runners with a personal-best time of 20:19.9. 

Sophomore Emily Culley and freshman Liina Winborn joined Valby with personal bests in the Garnet 6K. Four Gators crossed the finish line in the top 100, which helped earn them a top-16 finish as a team. 

In the women’s open 6K, freshman Jordan Shapiro posted a personal-best time of 22:11.3 and crossed the line first for the Gators in 52nd place. Freshman Keleigh Scallon also earned a new personal-best in the race. 

The Gators’ next meet will take them to Columbia, Missouri, for the SEC Championships on Oct. 29. The men are set to run an 8K while the women will compete in a 6K race. 

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

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