Jessica Pascoe

Senior Jessica Pascoe finished first in Florida’s last meet at Virginia.

The Florida cross country team has seen almost all of its players come down with what one runner called “the plague.”

The Gators have been battling this sickness for weeks and are just getting over it as they head to Tallahassee for the FSU Invitational Friday at 7:40 a.m. Unfortunately for Florida, the damage from the sickness was done at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational two weeks ago:

Women’s team and sickness

When the women toed the line at UVA, sophomore Imogen Barrett found herself at the mercy of this sickness and began vomiting just before the race began. It got to the point where the phlegm caused difficulty breathing and kept her from finishing the women’s 6K, according to assistant coach Chris Solinsky.

Thanks to senior Jessica Pascoe’s first-place finish, the team was able to salvage what they could at Virginia, finishing sixth. Solinksy also talked about how redshirt freshmen Maria Fernandez and Pamela O’Brien stepped up when Barrett went down.

“For them, I’d say that was a career race,” Solinsky said. “I think they’re going to continue to have those types of performances and moments.”

Men’s team still finding their way

With the team still fighting this sickness, it’ll need help from its entire roster when traveling to FSU. The Seminoles may not feel the same way, however.

Florida State will not use their top runners for their home meet in an attempt to conserve them for the later parts of the season, Solinsky said. This may be a good opportunity for Florida to gain some confidence, especially on the men’s side.

UF finished ninth in the men’s 8K at the UVA Invitational. Solinsky saw some old habits reemerge that did not reflect what he has seen in training.

“What they’re doing in training, and I feel like a broken record, it’s very elite stuff,” he said.

The third-year coach went on to elaborate and said that the team is sometimes scared to take risks when competing in a public competition.

“The best fruit is at the end of the branch,” Solinsky said. “To get that, you kind of have to let go of the trunk to reach the end of that branch.”

Follow Joseph Salvador on Twitter @JSalvadorSports. Contact him at [email protected]

Joseph Salvador is a Sports Journalism student at the University of Florida and was previously Sports Editor for Broward College's newspaper The Observer. He has been with the Alligator since Summer 2019.