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Photo by: Cheryl Treworgy, PrettySporty.com

Friday October 26, 2012SEC Women's Cross Country Title Returns to Gainesville; Gator Men Fifth at League Championship

Nashville, Tenn.

Photo by: Cheryl Treworgy, PrettySporty.com

For the third time in the last four years – and the sixth time overall – the Gator women’s cross country squad brought the SEC Title back to Gainesville. After winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, the Orange and Blue struck again this year for its sixth SEC title (’84, ’96, ’97, ’09, ’10, ’12) in women’s program history, the second-most for an SEC women’s cross country squad. UF’s men’s squad turned in a fifth-place showing at the 2012 league meet for the program’s 16th straight top-five SEC finish.

 

The women’s cross country squad made it two Southeastern Conference Titles for the Gators this year so far – both coming in the last 24 hours – as Gator soccer defeated South Carolina, 3-0, on the road for their SEC-leading 12th conference championship.

 

Six Gators ran lifetime best 6K marks and all five scorers turned in top-25 finishes to lead the women to the 2012 SEC Title at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, including second-place finisher Florence Ngetich (Eldama Ravine, Kenya), who clocked in at 20:27.41 for the sixth-fastest time in Florida history as the Gators’ highest finisher in the women’s field of 124 athletes.

 

The Gators turned in a score of 61 points, while Arkansas (70) and Vanderbilt (119) rounded out the top three women’s team scores. On the men’s side, Arkansas claimed its 20th league title (35), Georgia finished second (73), SEC newcomers Missouri (80) and Texas A&M (80) tied for third, while Florida checked in fifth with 121 points.

 

Seven different Gator runners picked up All-SEC and SEC All-Freshman honors on the afternoon, led by junior Mark Parrish’s (Tampa, Fla.) All-SEC First Team honor, while both Ngetich and junior Agata Strausa (Riga, Latvia) led the way on the women’s All-SEC First Team. Senior Callie Cooper (St. Augustine, Fla.) earned All-SEC Second Team accolades, while three freshmen in Shelby Davidson (Melbourne, Fla.), Julie Macedo (Wilmington, Del.) and Phil Duncan (Orlando, Fla.) earned their first All-SEC accolades as members of the SEC All-Freshman squads.

 

On the men’s side, Parrish turned in the Gators’ highest finish in seventh, clocking a 24:06.09 to lead the way for the Orange and Blue, while Duncan clocked a personal-best 8K in 25:13.58 en route to his All-Freshman honor.

 

Florida assistant track and field and cross country coach Paul Spangler became the first coach at the helm of the cross country program to lead the women’s team to a Southeastern Conference Championship in his first season, as the Gators racked up the program’s fifth consecutive top-three finish at the league meet, three of those coming in championship form.

 

“I’m extremely proud of Coach Spangler and the job he’s done with the women’s team and we couldn’t be happier for the seniors: Callie Cooper and Florence Ngetich,” Florida track and field head coach Mike Holloway said. “The ladies had the goal of being the SEC Champions at the beginning of the year and they’ve worked extremely hard. I’ve been at a lot of practices and watched the work they’ve put in; we knew they were capable of doing this. As extremely excited as we are for the women, we’re just as disappointed for the men. We never strive to be fifth-best in anything in this league at the University of Florida. We have two weeks until the regional meet to get us to the national meet and we’re going to figure out a way to get it fixed. Again, congrats to the ladies, we’re extremely proud of them and I’m very proud of the work Coach Spangler has done with them – we look forward to regionals in two weeks.”

 

Following close behind Ngetich, it was Strausa – running in her first SEC cross country championship ever – that clocked a sixth place, career-best 20:40.96 to score second for the Gators. Cooper and juniors Shelby Hayes (Winter Park, Fla.) and Stephanie Strasser (Fernandina Beach, Fla.) scored third through fifth for the Gators in 14th, 17th and 22nd, respectively, Cooper and Hayes with personal-best marks.

 

“They did a phenomenal job,” Spangler said. “The women came in with a belief they could win and they worked as a team, went out there, trusted their training and believed in themselves. Florence did a great job trying to make a move in the last mile to pull away, but Macumber did a great job catching her in the last 100 meters – she did a phenomenal job leading the team. Agata and Callie did a great job to earn all-conference honors themselves and Shelby Hayes did a great job over last 800 meters. It was really a total team effort and it was great to send the seniors out with a team win and All-Conference honors.”

 

Davidson and Macedo both ran collegiate-best times for the Orange and Blue, finishing 45th and 63rd for UF, while Mandy Perkins (Ormond Beach, Fla.) clocked a 21:58.09 for 58th in the field.

 

“This is extra special since it’s my last time at SECs,” Cooper reflected.  “I’ve had my goals on my bulletin board and I’ve really been trying to reach them. To cap my senior year off with a win couldn’t be more special. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve really started to come together as a team. I led the team through a visualization technique last night and it really helped. One of the things we do in the first mile of the race is we talk to one another - it gets us together and it’s kind of our thing; I think it’s a little intimidating to the other competitors. Today, we put our best foot forward. I told the girls last night – this is not something we’ve never done before. We definitely have two more races in us and we’re just going to keep building; this is not the last you’re seeing of us. We want to have our best peak at nationals. I know a few of us didn’t have our best day today – we all feel like we have so much more in us. Regionals are just another chance for us to gain more experience. This is Florence’s second season and Agata and Julie’s first. When it comes down to these races, it’s about the experience and it’s something we’re getting better and better at.”

 

Behind Parrish’s performance on the men’s side, sophomores JL Hines (Orlando, Fla.) and Jimmy Clark (St. Johns, Fla.) finished 22nd and 28th as Florida’s top three scorers.

 

“It was a tough day for the men,” Spangler said. “We came into this meet with high goals, but hats off to Arkansas and the other teams that finished ahead of us. It certainly wasn’t the finish we wanted. We have two weeks to regroup and get ready for NCAA Regionals, to re-focus and put our team in a position where we can qualify for nationals.”

 

Junior Matt Mizereck (Tallahassee, Fla.) and senior Josh Izewski (Doylestown, Pa.) rounded out the Florida men’s scoring in 31st and 33rd, respectively.

 

“This meet wasn’t as good of a performance as we hoped for,” Parrish said. “Nobody had an outstanding race, but we can’t look back now. We’re still fit, we’re still ready to go, it just wasn’t in the cards today. Our coaches believe in us and we believe in ourselves. We’re looking forward to going to regionals and having a better race. For whatever reason, we didn’t have it today. Right now, we’re looking forward. We’re fit – you can look at our pre-nationals times. We’ll have a plan – our coaches have brought us this far and they’ll know what to do to fix this. Today’s results will only get us hungrier for regionals in two weeks.”

 

Sophomore Eddie Garcia (Jacksonville, Fla.) finished 36th, while Duncan clocked a career-best mark for the Orange and Blue, lowering his personal best from 26:00.40 to 25:13.58, good for 43rd in the field as Florida’s seventh runner to cross the finish line. Redshirt freshman Harsha Torke (Viera, Fla.) rounded out Florida’s men’s competitors in 98th.

 

The Gators will continue training for the 2012 NCAA South Regional Championship Nov. 9 in Tallahassee, Fla. The top two team finishers at NCAA Regionals earn an automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Championship in Louisville, Ky.

 

For all the latest on Florida cross country and track and field, stay posted to www.GatorZone.com/crosscountry and follow the Gators on Facebook and on Twitter @GatorZoneXCntry and @GZTrackField.

 

2012 SEC Women’s Team Finishes

1. Florida, 61

2. Arkansas, 70

3. Vanderbilt, 119

4. Ole Miss, 122

5. Kentucky, 130

6. Georgia, 132

7. LSU, 199

8. Texas A&M, 224

9. South Carolina, 256

10. Mississippi State, 264

11. Alabama, 268

12. Tennessee, 285

13. Missouri, 296

14. Auburn, 378

 

Florida Women’s Finishers (6K)

2. Florence Ngetich, 20:27.41 *

6. Agata Strausa, 20:40.96 *

14. Callie Cooper, 21:05.20 *

17. Shelby Hayes, 21:16.94 *

22. Stephanie Strasser, 21:21.98

45. Shelby Davidson, 21:44.70 *

58. Mandy Perkins, 21:58.09

63. Julie Macedo, 22:03.55 *

* - denotes career best

 

Women’s Race Winner

1. Cally Macumber, Kentucky, 20:23.29

 

Women’s All-SEC First Team

Cally Macumber, Kentucky

Florence Ngetich, Florida

Chelsea Oswald, Kentucky

Carly Hamilton, Georgia

Grace Heymsfield, Arkansas

Agata Strausa, Florida

Hannah Jumper, Vanderbilt

 

Women’s All-SEC Second Team

Kristen Findley, Vanderbilt

Katie Breathitt, Ole Miss

Andrina Schlaepfer, Arkansas

Diane Robison, Arkansas

Laura Carleton, LSU

Kayla Lampe, South Carolina

Callie Cooper, Florida

 

Women’s SEC All-Freshman Team

Hannah Jumper, Vanderbilt

Andrina Schlaepfer, Arkansas

Kayla Lampe, South Carolina

Katelyn Greenleaf, Alabama

Shelby Davidson, Florida

Alexis Panisse, Tennessee

Julie Macedo, Florida

 

 

2012 SEC Men’s Team Finishes

1. Arkansas, 35

2. Georgia, 73

3. Missouri, 80

3. Texas A&M, 8

5. Florida, 121

6. Kentucky, 161

7. Tennessee, 217

8. Mississippi State, 237

8. Auburn, 237

10. Ole Miss, 305

11. Alabama, 309

12. Vanderbilt, 358

13. LSU, 378

 

Florida Men’s Finishers (8K)

7. Mark Parrish, 24:06.09

22. JL Hines, 24:32.80

28. Jimmy Clark, 24:44.66

31. Matt Mizereck, 24:49.16

33. Josh Izewski, 24:53.98

36. Eddie Garcia, 24:58.97

43. Phil Duncan, 25:13.58 *

98. Harsha Torke, 26:34.23

* - denotes career best

 

Men’s Race Winner

1. Henry Lelei, Texas A&M, 23:29.95

 

Men’s All-SEC First Team

Henry Lelei, Texas A&M

Solomon Haile, Arkansas

Eric Fernandez, Arkansas

Kemoy Campbell, Arkansas

Matt Cleaver, Georgia

Peter Okwera, Tennessee

Mark Parrish, Florida

 

Men’s All-SEC Second Team

Hayden Legg, Missouri

Max Storms, Missouri

Luis Orta, Kentucky

Bryant Blahnik, Missouri

Layne Nixon, Arkansas

Brandon Lord, Georgia

Cale Wallace, Arkansas

 

Men’s SEC All-Freshman Team

Cale Wallace, Arkansas

Joe McKenna, Missouri

Evan Chiplock, Missouri

Sid Vaughn, Georgia

Tyler Schneider, Missouri

Phil Duncan, Florida

Steven Spevacek, Georgia

 

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