UNF men’s cross country beat the Florida Gators by one point in the Florida Mountain Dew Invitational in Gainesville, Fla. on Sept.19. Seven of the top 15 finishers in the 8K race were Ospreys.
By the end of the race, the team with the fewest points would win the team title. UNF had 31 points to the Gators’ 32 points, allowing the Ospreys to claim the Mountain Dew Invitational team title from the 11-team field.
During the 8K course, UNF junior Michael Damato finished in second place with a personal best of 24:57.86. Damato’s teammates junior Brad Hort and sophomore Tyler Bennett finished in fourth and fifth place respectively. Hort finished with a time of 25:13.55 and Bennett finished at 25:18.71.
UNF cross country head coach Jeff Pigg said the win has been a long time coming.
“The men, they have been working, it has been a long process to get better,” Pigg said. “Over time, [we] showed signs last year of being pretty good but we were somewhat inconsistent. In those close races we were coming up, we weren’t winning them but [we] were getting close. So now it is finally nice to be close, to be on the winning side.”
For the Gators, redshirt senior and Jacksonville native Eddie Garcia finished the 8K in first place with a time of 24:48.98. This is his first individual victory in his collegiate career. Two of his Gator teammates, redshirt senior Jimmy Clark and redshirt junior Mac Reynolds finished in third and sixth place respectively with times of 25:01.89 and 25:27.76.
Pigg continued to give credit to the program at Florida.
“Obviously Florida is very good and they are ranked high in the region,” Pigg said. “Beating them is a great thing for us. A lot of our kids were recruited by Florida and in some cases overlooked by Florida. It is a good feeling for them as well.”
Next the UNF cross country team will compete in the Greater Louisville Classic in Louisville, Kentucky on Oct.3.