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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The best football is found in the Southeastern Conference, but thankfully for the Gators, the same cannot be said for cross country.

Despite Florida’s disappointing finish on Friday at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational (32nd- place for the men and 19th-place for the women), they are still only one of two SEC schools featured in the Top 30, with the other being Arkansas. The conference was barely represented at the meet, with the women's teams from Georgia and Vanderbilt the only others present. The fact that the Gators still look to be a power in the SEC motivates them to perform better at the SEC Championship in two weeks.“We have two weeks to adjust now before SECs. We have a very fit group of runners and they’re motivated right now for different results,” coach Todd Morgan said following the letdown in Wisconsin.Tennessee will host the SEC Championship on Monday, Oct. 31, at Lambert Acres Golf Club in Knoxville, Tenn., and Florida will look to capitalize on the weaker competition. Last year, Florida’s women took home their second straight SEC Championship while the men weren’t too far behind, finishing third. Although Morgan expected more from his teams in Wisconsin, he has already put the race behind him and has shifted his focus to Knoxville.“We’re going to figure out what didn’t go right and we’re going to correct it, starting right now,” Morgan said.A season that started with victories and top-five finishes hit a major speed-bump up north in a NCAA-caliber meet. However, as the competition gets considerably easier and the racing comes back to the south, the Gators are excited about their outlook.Last season the women rode their first-place finish in the SEC Championships to a second-place finish at the NCAA South Region Championships and, ultimately, an appearance at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.Although the men never reached the ultimate collegiate pinnacle of running at the NCAA Championships, they were able to register a third-place finish at SECs, behind Arkansas and Alabama.While the Gators were unable to come away with another top-five finish at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, they hope the NCAA-like meet will provide them an added boost in Knoxville in two weeks.

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