This year for Halloween, the Gators want to be champions.
Bringing home a pair of Southeastern Conference Championship trophies for both the men and women on Oct. 31 would be Florida’s ultimate sweet treat. Anything less would fall short of their expectations.
Coach Todd Morgan expects both his men and women to claim victory Monday against all of the Gators’ conference rivals. The past two years, the women have accomplished this feat, but the men have been starved of an SEC Championship since 1987.
“Although it’s been awhile since the men have won, both of these groups go expecting to win,” Morgan said. “Any great team goes in wanting to win, expecting to win.”
However, according to a vote by the league's coaches prior to the season, only Florida’s women are figured to bring home an SEC championship. The men were predicted to finish third for the second straight year behind Arkansas and Alabama.
A predicted third-place finish hasn’t hindered the Gators’ belief that this will finally be the year to break the 24-year title drought.
Rather than running in a large meet like in Wisconsin, where the Gators finished 32nd out of 39 teams, Florida will be up against more familiar teams in a smaller setting. Sophomore Mark Parrish, although not explicitly claiming victory beforehand, said this style of meet will be in the Gators' favor.
“We’re still pursuing the goal of winning, that’s what we said at the beginning of the year and I don’t think that has changed.”
Florida’s men, although having exceedingly high hopes from Morgan, won’t have the pressure the women will have come race day. Not only has Morgan expected success out of these women, but the rest of the conference has as well.
Senior Genevieve LaCaze has the added pressure of going out on top in her final year and winning the conference has been on her mind since the beginning of the year.
The Gators, led by LaCaze, look past the pressure and focus on what needs to be accomplished in order to obtain victory.
If the Gators do meet Morgan’s lofty goals in this year’s SEC Championship in Knoxville, Tenn., Florida will satisfy its sweet tooth for victory this Halloween.