When the UF women's cross country team lines up at the NCAA Championship in Terre Haute, Ind., today at noon, the Gators will not take their opportunity for granted.
After finishing one spot shy of an automatic bid at the South Regional Championship, UF was fortunate to receive an at-large bid to the national final.
BIt?s great that we have another opportunity to step on the line and really have a race where we all come out of it and feel like we did the best we could and be satisfied,C junior Jacy Kruzel said. BNational meet?s a perfect opportunity to do that.C
The Gators finished 26th of 31 at last year?s race, and they have been working all year to get back to the national meet to run their best when it counts most.
BWe can go put it together even better than we have all year right now,C UF coach Jeff Pigg said. BYou just plan on being ready at this time of the year and do the best job you can. I think we?re square. I think we?ll be in good shape.C
Kruzel's experience running the course will help, as she finished 71st overall a year ago and then came in 24th overall at the Pre-NCAA Invitational earlier this season.
B[To] help our team become a top-20-in-the-nation team would be a really big accomplishment,C she said. BWe?ve came a long way this season, and I feel like we?re definitely ready to step it up and have a great race.C
While the men?s team failed to receive an at-large bid to nationals, it will still be represented.
Junior Jeremy Criscione automatically qualified for the race after finishing seventh at the regional meet.
BIt?s going to be a little bit different going just as an individual … but I think I?ll still be able to race well,C Criscione said. BI?m feeling the best I have at the end of the season in my three years here.C
Pigg said Criscione has the capability to outrun a lot of talented competitors if he does his best.
Criscione finished 109th in last year?s race but has different expectations for this year?s run. His goal, simply put:
"To be All-American."