The Gators’ sixth top-two finish this season would be a miracle.
Florida’s men have already exceeded all expectations with five top-two finishes, including two silver medals at the SEC Championship and the NCAA South Regional. Being the runner-up to Florida State at the South Regional, the Gators automatically qualified for today's NCAA Championship.
However, an impressive season will likely end in an unimpressive finish in Terre Haute, Ind., the site for this year’s national championship.
“We are just looking to see if we can crack into the top 20,” freshman Eduardo Garcia said. “It’s hard to say, but we are just going to go up there and see what we can do and how we can place nationally against the other teams.”
Coach Todd Morgan will lead his men against 30 teams this afternoon in their largest meet since the Wisconsin adidas Invitational. The stiff competition and crowded field in the Wisconsin meet was the ultimate demise for Florida, as it finished 32nd out of 39 teams – its worst finish of the season.
However, Morgan has flipped the negative into a positive saying his team needed a poor performance to become a better team.
“In hindsight, that was a wake-up call we needed,” Morgan said. “We know now what to expect. We have got confidence back in our fitness, and those guys are going to be better prepared going into that. Looking back, that’s something that made these guys stronger.”
But how much better have the Gators have gotten since the Wisconsin meet remains to be seen
The national rankings aren’t encouraging for the Gators. Florida is ranked behind 28 of its 30 competitors. In addition, much of the success for Morgan’s squad this year has come against SEC opponents or schools in the south region. Now the Gators must compete against schools that they have only seen in the Wisconsin meet.
And if the same schools take advantage of the young Gators like they did in the Wisconsin meet, Florida’s successful season will have a similar ending.