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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
<p>Redshirt junior Cory McGee races during the SEC Championships at the Mark Bostick Golf Course on Saturday.</p>

Redshirt junior Cory McGee races during the SEC Championships at the Mark Bostick Golf Course on Saturday.

For the first time since 2002, the Gators were able to race the Southeastern Conference Championships at home.

They were hoping to use their knowledge of the Mark Bostick Golf Course, a track they practice on multiple times a week, to ensure that the two trophies would not leave Gainesville.

Unfortunately for Florida, Arkansas showed up.

The Razorbacks dominated the competition on Friday, finishing as the top team in both races while boasting the top three male and female individual performers.

“Arkansas ran well,” coach Paul Spangler said. “Certainly we were hoping that would be us on the stand, but it’s not.”

Florida’s men finished second overall and saw two runners finish in the top 10. Junior Jimmy Clark finished the 8K race fifth out of 114 runners with a time of 23:57.03, earning first-team All-SEC accolades in the process.

“Right off the bat, it was a grind,” Clark said. “But I was able to hang on and have a strong finish.”

Senior Mark Parrish ended the race in eighth place with a time of 24:01.40. Junior Eddie Garcia (24:21.64), freshman Carlos Miranda (24:55. 40) and junior JL Hines (25:10.47) followed for the Gators, who finished 13th, 29th and 41st, respectively. Parrish and Garcia earned second-team All-SEC recognition, while Miranda was named to the All-Freshman SEC team for being the third freshman to finish the race.

“I thought the men did a good job,” Spangler said. “Jimmy Clark and Mark Parrish did a really good job grinding it through.”

Miranda broke the 25-minute barrier for the second consecutive race, an accomplishment that helped the men place in the top five at the SEC Championships for the 17th consecutive year.

“He’s obviously talented, both physically and certainly mentally in terms of wanting to be the best he can,” Spangler said. “So for him to break 25 minutes on this course, I felt he was ready to do that.”

On the other hand, the women’s team saw a drop in performance when compared to last year. After winning the conference championship last season in Nashville, Tenn., the women finished fourth this time around, the team’s lowest placing since 2007.

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“The women’s team, I’m certainly not pleased where we’re at,” Spangler said. “I know the girls certainly aren’t pleased with where they finished.”

Redshirt senior Agata Strausa was the only Gator to finish in the top 15 Friday. The Latvia native ran a personal-best race to claim fourth place with a time of 20:17.79 on the 6K track.

“I’m very proud of Agata,” Spangler said. “She’s looked great in practice since Wisconsin, and we’ve felt like she was ready to contend for the title.”

Florida’s next four finishers were redshirt junior Cory McGee (16th place, 21:01.16), sophomore Julie Macedo (30th, 21:30.55), freshman Taylor Tubbs (37th, 21:41.30) and senior Shelby Hayes (67th, 22:17.79).

“We all gave our best today, just other teams were better,” Strausa said. “But that doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong. We’ve just got to keep up the hard work, be smart and be positive because the season is not over yet.”

Follow Jordan McPherson on Twitter @J_McPherson1126.

Redshirt junior Cory McGee races during the SEC Championships at the Mark Bostick Golf Course on Saturday.

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