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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
<p>Mark Parrish competes in the Mountain Dew Invitational men’s 8K on Sept. 14 at the Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville.</p>

Mark Parrish competes in the Mountain Dew Invitational men’s 8K on Sept. 14 at the Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville.

After eight runners had career-best days at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Saturday, the Gators are feeling a sense of assurance as they prepare for the Southeastern Conference Championships.

“To come off a race like that, for most everybody to run lifetime bests and do it in a really tough field, it definitely gives them a lot of confidence,” coach Paul Spangler said.

A record-breaking run by senior Mark Parrish and performances by junior Jimmy Clark and redshirt senior Agata Strausa that cracked the top-10 in Florida history paved the way for Florida at the adidas Invitational, a meet Spangler dubbed “arguably the most competitive cross country meet outside the NCAA Championships.”

However, less-experienced runners have also helped fuel the Gators as they prepare for the SEC Championships, which will be held in Gainesville on Nov. 1.

For the women, the extra boost needed to stay at the top of the SEC comes from sophomore Julie Macedo and freshman Taylor Tubbs.

Macedo and Tubbs have been two of the top-four runners for the women in every meet this season, filling a void created earlier this year by the absence of redshirt junior Cory McGee and injuries to seniors Stephanie Strasser and Shelby Hayes.

“Whenever you have an athlete go down, you’re looking for someone to fill that spot,” Spangler said. “Taylor and Julie did a great job of that on the women’s side.”

Although McGee and Hayes returned to the lineup Saturday, the underclassmen maintained their success. Tubbs was the third Gator to cross the finish line on the Thomas Zimmer Championship course with a time of 21:15; Macedo finished one second behind her. Both ran personal-best races in Madison, Wis.

“Taylor and I work really well together,” Macedo said. “Where I have weaknesses, she is strong and vice versa.”

On the men’s side, junior Eddie Garcia and freshman Carlos Miranda are two runners who have caught Spangler’s eye this season.

Garcia finished in the top three for the Gators in each meet he has participated in this season.

“Eddie’s a guy who really had a breakthrough season,” Spangler said. “It was a good race for him. I think he’s got something more in the tank.”

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Miranda broke the 25-minute barrier for the first time in his career on Saturday, a feat that Spangler takes in high regard.

“He was willing to do anything you ask of him,” he said of the three-time SEC Freshman of the Week. “That’s a big reason why he’s improved as much as he has and a big reason why I think he’s going to be really good as the years progress.”

Their consistency, along with Parrish, Clark, and junior JL Hines, will be pivotal for the men as they try to improve on their fifth-place finish in Nashville, Tenn., at last year’s SEC Championships and overtake reigning champion Arkansas.

“As always, it’s going to be a dog fight,” Spangler said.

“There are very, very good teams in the SEC and we’ve just got to put ourselves in a position where we can contend for a title.”

Follow Jordan McPherson on Twitter @J_McPherson1126.

Mark Parrish competes in the Mountain Dew Invitational men’s 8K on Sept. 14 at the Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville.

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