Friday November 12, 2010Cross Country Sets Its Sights on NCAA South Regional
Florida’s cross country squads will set out for the second-to last competition of the season Saturday, aiming for top-two team finishes at the 2010 NCAA South Region Championships in Birmingham, Ala. A first or second-place finish in the south regional on both the men’s and women’s sides will automatically punch UF’s ticket to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., Nov. 22. Following the automatic team qualifications at each of the nine regional locations, 15 at-large individual bids will be available. Final NCAA competitors will be confirmed Sunday evening by the NCAA.
The Gators, who have been idle for nearly two weeks, were last in competition at a successful 2010 SEC Championship meet Nov. 1. For the first time all season, UF’s women raced a complete lineup, allowing the Gators to reel in the team’s second consecutive SEC Title. The team title, which Florida won by one point (60) over Arkansas (61), marked the program’s fifth all-time title and was the second time in program history the Gators have won back-to-back team titles after also winning in 1996 and 1997.
Florida’s men additionally rose to the challenge at the 2010 conference meet, securing third place, the best team finish for the UF men since 2007. The men’s squad finished in the top five at the conference meet for the 14th consecutive year and in the top three for the seventh season out of the last nine.
UF assistant track and cross country coach Todd Morgan was named the 2010 SEC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year for the second season in a row, marking UF’s second coaching honor since 1997 and fifth overall. In addition to Morgan’s accolade, eight Gator runners picked up All-SEC honors, including five for the Gator women and three for the UF men’s team.
Florida will head into the NCAA South Regional, hosted by Samford University, with high expectations after placing first at the South Region Championships last year on the women’s side to earn an automatic team bid in 2009. Six Gators from the women’s team, including returners Charlotte Browning (Chichester, England), Genevieve LaCaze (Daisy Hill, Australia) and Rebecca Lowe (Vaucluse, Australia), were named to the All-South Region team, while senior Anthony Morales (Palm Coast, Fla.) represented UF’s men on the All-South Region team last season. The Gators’ men’s squad will be looking to improve upon last year’s fifth-place team finish.
On the women’s side, Morgan and Lowe turned in successful coaching and running performances, Lowe winning the Region Championships women’s race and being tabbed the South Region Female Athlete of the Year, while Morgan was named the South Region Women’s Coach of the Year.
The Florida men’s team will be looking for its ninth all-time trip to the NCAAs, its first under Morgan, after last making an appearance at the 2006 NCAA Championships. The Gator women have hopes of competing in their 11th NCAA meet, which would additionally mark their fifth consecutive appearance at the college cross country finale.
2010 NCAA Cross Country Regional Sites
South: Samford University,
host – FLORIDA REGIONAL
South Central: Baylor University, host
Southeast: Louisville, host
West: Oregon, host