With a victory under his belt at the Western Carolina Invitational on Sept. 2, freshman Jimmy Clark is making his presence felt in his first year at Florida.
He earned Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week honors with the win, becoming the first Gator since 2003 to win his inaugural collegiate meet. Like any freshman phenom, comparisons will be made to predict Clark’s potential success. But Florida coach Todd Morgan is just excited to have him.
“He was in a different class in high school,” Morgan said of Clark’s state championship and fourth-place finish at the Foot Locker National Meet.
Morgan also called him “a one-man-show.” However, Morgan said one of the reasons Clark committed to Florida was so he could be around other elite runners to help him become an even more talented long distance competitor.
It became obvious he made the right choice this weekend, as the Gators men’s team won the USF Invitational despite Clark staying home as part of Morgan’s plan to rest some of Florida’s top runners.
Clark finished first among all runners in UF’s first race but had four of his teammates on his footsteps, as only three seconds separated UF’s top five.
Morgan fully expects Clark to continue making an immediate impact on the team, helping UF compete further into the season. If so, the team’s chances of capturing the men’s SEC title for the first time since 1987 only grow.
“We set goals as a team, and [winning an SEC title] is on the top of the list,” Clark said.
With Morgan’s guidance and training, Clark said winning the SEC is “a good goal.”
Because of the difficulty of a collegiate training schedule, Clark said he strives to work hard and keep a positive attitude throughout the season.
“You go through pain in every run,” he said. “But there is that great feeling you get when you cross that finish line and you know that all that hard work that you put in before that race is paying off.”