The UF women's cross country team placed 11th among 31 teams at the NCAA Championships on Monday, marking the best finish ever for a Gators squad
"This year they were real loose and just having fun," UF coach Jeff Pigg said. "When it came time to run, they just went out and ran."
The result is especially impressive considering the circumstances surrounding it. The Gators barely reached the championships, needing an at-large bid to get them there.
Junior Jacy Kruzel sparked UF once again, leading the way for the Gators and finishing 60th overall with a time of 21:15.8.
Kruzel responded well after not scoring for the Gators in the regional meet and finishing last on the team.
"She didn't give up faith in herself and what she was doing," Pigg said.
Freshman Rebecca Lowe maintained her consistency, finishing 107th overall and second for the Gators with a time of 21:35.1.
Right behind her was walk-on sophomore Alison Babb of Gainesville, whom Pigg praised for her resilience after suffering an injury and consequently running her first race just a few weeks ago at the SEC Championships.
Babb scored fifth for the Gators at the regional meet and finished third on the team Monday with a 6k time of 21:36.6.
"She came to play," Pigg said. "So I'm extremely proud of her."
Senior Lindsay Sundell came in fourth for UF at 118th overall in 21:42.2. Pigg said that Sundell was disappointed with her finish until she realized how well the team actually did.
"[Sundell's] been very unselfish," Pigg said.
Freshman Ali Crabb remained consistent as well for the Gators, and rounded out the Gators' scoring five with a time of 21:48.4.
UF had the best finish of the SEC teams present, beating Arkansas (13) and Georgia (22), both of whom defeated the Gators at the SEC Championship. Georgia also finished one spot higher than UF at the regional meet.
Recording the best finish in UF history at the national championship was enough for Pigg to call this a successful year for his team.
"If I look back on this season, I'd say that everything went fine," Pigg said. "We were on when it counted at the end. That's what our goal was to be."
Junior Jeremy Criscione was the lone member of the UF men's team to race at the national meet. He finished the 10k race 99th overall in 31:06.3, his best race at the championship.
"The way I see it, it would have been a lot more fun, a lot better situation, had his teammates been here, and they weren't," Pigg said. "He still came out hard, did a solid job."