Friday November 11, 2011Florida Cross Country Squads Looking for NCAA Bids at South Region Championships Saturday
Photo by Cheryl Treworgy, PrettySporty.com
Photo by Cheryl Treworgy, PrettySporty.com
NCAA South Regional Central (course maps, schedule, directions and results)
off the 2011 SEC Cross Country Championship races Oct. 31 with second and
third-place finishes, respectively, the Gator men’s and women’s cross country
teams will vie for spots at the NCAA Championships Saturday at the NCAA South
Regional in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The top two team finishers Saturday in each of the
nine regions automatically qualify for the 2011 NCAA Championships, while the
rest of the 31-team field (13 at-large) will be announced by the NCAA Sunday, Nov.
On the women’s side, the Orange and Blue have earned a bid to the NCAA Championships for the past five years as a team, while UF's men have had an individual representative at the championship meet three of the last four years, last qualifying as a team in 2006. Florida will be looking to make its 12th all-time NCAA Championships appearance as a team on the women’s side, while the men are seeking the ninth NCAA appearance in men’s action.
Hosted this year by Alabama, the Gators will run in the South Regional at the Harry Pritchett Cross Country Course in Tuscaloosa. The men’s race will kick off first at 11 a.m. (ET), while the women’s race is slated for 12:15 p.m. (ET). Competitors at Saturday’s Regional in the men’s field will run a 10K, while the women will compete in a 6K race. For Florida, it will mark the first 10K of the season for the men’s team after the Gators opened the season with a 5K at the Western Carolina Invite and have competed in four-consecutive 8K races to this point. The UF women now have two-straight 6Ks under their belt entering Regionals.
The men’s squad enters this weekend ranked second in the USTFCCCA South Region rankings behind the team from Florida State, while SEC foe Georgia – which the Gators topped at the conference meet – rounds out the top-three regional standings. On the women’s side, the South Regional sets up for an ultra-competitive field among the top three teams, with FSU holding the top spot, SEC Champion Vanderbilt sitting in second, Florida in third and UF’s league rival Georgia placed fourth in the regional rankings entering Saturday’s race.
Following their performances at SECs Oct. 31, both UF squads are receiving votes in the USTFCCCA national poll. In the women’s race, Florida will compete Saturday against the No. 1 (FSU) and No. 4 (Vandy) teams in the country.
UF's second-place finish at SECs on the men's side was the highest the squad has finished since also placing second in 2007. For the women, the Gators' third-place team finish marked their fourth-consecutive top-three finish at SECs after winning the crown back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010. Gator freshman Jimmy Clark (St. Johns, Fla.) was named the SEC Freshman of the Year on the men's side, while a total of nine Florida runners picked up All-SEC honors at the 2011 league meet.
At last year’s regional in Birmingham, the women’s team used three top-ten finishes and a second place overall team finish to automatically qualify for NCAAs. Current senior Genevieve LaCaze (Daisy Hill, Australia) turned in Florida’s top finish, crossing the finish line in fifth with a career-best 6K time of 20:06.10. LaCaze enters Regionals after also turning in the Gators top SEC finish on the women’s side, a third-place success, two weeks ago.
In 2010, UF’s men recorded a third-place finish, their best team regional finish since also placing third in 2007, marking the 14th consecutive season in the top five at the men’s regional championship. Florida will look to two sophomores, Mark Parrish (Tampa, Fla.) and Matt Mizereck (Tallahassee, Fla.), along with Clark, to lead the way Saturday. Of the trio, Mizereck was the only competitor at last year’s South Regional, turning in a 21st-place finish as UF’s fourth scorer, also earning All-South Region honors as a freshman in 2010.
Follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneXCntry and @GZTrackField for updates Saturday, and visit www.GatorZone.com/crosscountry for a complete recap and results following NCAA South Region competition. Visit Alabama’s NCAA South Region central link at the top of the page for all meet information, directions and maps, and Bama’s direct links for men's results and women's results when available.