Blue and orange runs ramped in the Mutz household. The tradition will continue when Lakeland Christian senior Mark Mutz heads to the University of Florida. Mutz will become the sixth member of his family to become a Gator, but the first to go there for both academics and athletics. He says it was a decision that came down to the final hours.
"I decided the night before the deadline on May 1st. I wasn't highly recruited by UF as I only made the walk on standard, but there was a ton of pressure on me. I had a couple of full ride offers which I am thankful for, but UF seemed like the right place for me. As the ninth of twelve kids, my parents are used to college decisions, but even they didn't have a preference between my final two.
His final two were Florida and Southeastern University in Lakeland. A small Christian school, the opportunity to be a part of a new cross country program as well as be in an environment with other athletes who shared his views was something that piqued his interest.
"Southeastern was very generous with their offer and I would also have the opportunity to set the precedence for how their team would be from the start. I think it would have been really exciting to be a foundational piece of a new program because of the influence and excitement it would bring with it."
In the end it was the Gators that prevailed. The success the University of Florida over several years as well as the ability to receive the best training sealed the deal for Mutz. He says he is looking forward to being a part of both the academic and athletic excellence in Gainesville.
"I chose UF For those reasons as well as the opportunity to influence others to user their talents to glorify Christ. It is really important for me to recognize his gift he has blessed me with. I'd like to do my best to help others see that as well. God has given me the ability to run well and I want to use it to glorify him. I'm looking forward to a completely new team and an extremely competitive program. Both of these aspects are extremely exciting to me."
It's been a great senior year for Mutz who finished fourth in the 1A Cross Country Finals and fourth in the 3200 at the 1A Outdoor State Finals. He says he is really thankful for everyone's contributions over the years that have led him to where he is now.
"From Paul White and Mr. Musick getting me started in the sport to Alex Bertran and David Wickencamp for getting me into the physical condition I am in now. Not to sound cliché, but I am most thankful that God has given me the ability to run well and I want to use it to glorify him. I'm extremely excited to get to college. God bless and go Gators!