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Wednesday October 6, 2010Florida Cross Country Gears Up for FSU Invitational

Tallahassee, Fla.

View cross country coach Todd Morgan’s weekly press conference HERE

The Gators will take on a tough regional match-up when they head west to Tallahassee, Fla., for the 2010 FSU Invitational (College Open) Friday. In the latest USTFCCCA Regional Rankings, both the host team men’s and women’s squads top the South Region rankings, while the Gator men’s team ranks third behind the Seminoles and conference foe Alabama in first and second, respectively. The UF women’s team ranks second behind FSU in the regional poll.

In the latest national poll, released by USTFCCCA Tuesday, Florida’s men jumped into the top-30, claiming the No. 30 spot, after turning in an impressive performance Oct. 2 at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis. The UF women’s team maintained its poll status, but slid from No. 7 to No. 27. Host team FSU jumped to No. 15 in the men’s poll and ranks No. 3 on the women’s side.  

“Going to Wisconsin was really our first true test of the season. I was really pleased with how Charlotte (Browning) performed. There were some really strong runners in the field. She made good decisions and came out on top. She’s a great leader for us to get things going this season. I also needed to count on Ali (Crabb) and Callie (Cooper) as well and they figured into the scoring for us,” cross country coach Todd Morgan said. “We came away from Wisconsin with some good things and also some things we’d like to work on as well. We’re in a little different spot at this point than we were last year, but overall, the end goals and what we’d like the end result to be remain the same.”

“I was also really happy with the focus of the men’s team. They came in this year with the intent to do some things better than a year ago. Last Saturday was a step in the right direction for that,” Morgan continued. “They did well at our home meet, but running against some good competition and quality runners in Wisconsin showed them that their work is paying off. Right now we’re in a good spot, as far as training goes. For them to be training at such a high level and also competing at a high level right now against good teams, was a positive that I took away.”

The Gators will be making their second consecutive appearance at the FSU Invitational, a women’s 5K race and men’s 8K. At last year’s meet, Florida’s men turned in a second-place finish, while the women checked in fourth overall. Junior Michael Anderson (Williston, Fla.) was UF’s top finisher in fifth place on the men’s side, while senior Ali Crabb (St. Petersburg, Fla.) recorded the top women’s finish with a fourth-place showing.

Florida will reserve the top half of its men’s and women’s lineups for the Pre-NCAA Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind., Oct. 16, but UF will send seven men’s and women’s runners, all potential SEC Championship contenders, to Tallahassee to fight for the final spots in the 10-person SEC  race, which will be held Nov. 1 in Columbia, S.C. With 10 SEC spots available for both the men and women, Morgan is hopeful UF’s contingent at the FSU Invite will race competitively to complete the lineup for SECs.

“It’s great for me to be staying close to home with the FSU Invitational because when we split the teams for meets, we’ll go practice with the group that’s not running at FSU on Friday morning, we’ll head up to Tallahassee for the race there in the evening and then I’m back for practice Saturday morning,” Morgan said. “It’s not a big overnight trip. It was a tremendous meet in Wisconsin, but it’s a lot when you’re going up Friday and coming back Saturday. It worked well, but you don’t want to do that too many times in a span of 48 hours.”

Home team Florida State is coming off third-place finishes, respectively, at the Notre Dame Invitational. Florida opted for the nationally renowned Wisconsin adidas Invite this past weekend, running with multiple top-25 teams, including five in the women’s competition and eight in the men’s field. Florida turned in seventh-place team finishes on both sides, tallying 195 points in the women’s race and 217 in the men’s competition. For their efforts, three Gators, Charlotte Browning (Chichester, England), Dumisane Hlaselo (South Africa) and freshman Matt Mizereck (Tallahassee, Fla.), swept three of the four Southeastern Conference Athlete of the Week accolades Oct. 5, reeling in SEC Cross Country Female, Male and Male Freshman Athlete of the Week honors, respectively.

“The men’s team’s personality really came out this weekend. I got to see how they lined up when the pressure was really on. We’ve been talking about it, but it’s another thing to do it. It was encouraging to see that,” Morgan added. “They know that there’s a lot left ahead and they’re ready to prove that.”

Races in Tallahassee are slated to begin at 6:20 p.m. Oct. 8. For complete meet results and a recap following UF’s competition in the FSU Invitational, visit www.GatorZone.com Friday evening.

 

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