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<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.

With the Southeastern Conference Championships taking place on the Mark Bostick Golf Course today, the Gators are working to make sure the trophies stay in Gainesville.

The women aim to win their fourth SEC Championship in five years, while the men strive to earn their first SEC victory since 1987.

“At SECs, we have some of the top athletes in the nation, so it’s obviously going to be a very fast race,” senior Mark Parrish said.

“It’s going to take a lot of endurance, but then at the same time, it’s probably going to be somewhat tactical when it comes down to the last few kilometers, so you really have to respond to some of the moves.”

The Gators already competed on their home course once this season at the Mountain Dew Invitational on Sept. 14 under the same conditions they will be racing today — an 8K for the men and a 6K for the women.

This gave UF’s freshmen a glimpse of SEC competition and a preview to the intensity of the track.

“The first time, I was [very] sore after the meet. It was my first 8K,” freshman Carlos Miranda said. “So, I think with this being my third 8K, I’ll be more adjusted to it and be able to perform well out there.”

The men finished first at the Mountain Dew Invitational, topping three other SEC teams — second-place Auburn, third-place Tennessee and eighth-place LSU — that competed at the meet. Parrish and junior Jimmy Clark claimed the first two spots, and Florida had its five leading runners place in the top 20.

The women, who were without seniors Shelby Hayes and Stephanie Strasser and redshirt junior Cory McGee, placed third of five SEC teams at the home meet, losing to Tennessee and Auburn while topping South Carolina and LSU.

Redshirt senior Agata Strausa was the first SEC runner to finish the race, crossing the finish line second out of 270 runners with a time of 20:51.06.

Hayes and McGee have since returned to the lineup, but Strasser will sit out her fourth consecutive race while she tends to a hamstring injury.

After having two weeks to prepare, coach Paul Spangler feels the teams are ready, but he acknowledged that there would be stiff competition.

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“If we all run well, if our top five guys and top five girls do a good job, we’ll put ourselves in a position to be first or second,” Spangler said.

The Gators feel confident about their ability and feel that having the SEC Championships on their home course for the first time since 2002 gives them an added boost.

“It feels really good to be at the golf course,” junior Eddie Garcia said. “We practice on it a few times during the week. We know the course pretty well.”

Added Strausa: “I think it’s more of a motivator. We’re not intimidated by anything any team has done so far in the SEC.”

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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