Time is ticking for the men and women’s Florida cross country teams as the NCAA Regional meet quickly approaches.
The women and men have struggled in their last few outings, finishing tenth and seventh at the 2014 Southeastern Conference Championships, respectively.
UF coach Paul Spangler knows the teams will have to run their best races this season if they want to advance past this weeks regional meet in Tallahassee.
"We’re going to need to have a good performance as we compete for one of two spots for the NCAA Championship," Spangler said. "On the women’s side, same thing we’re going to have to compete for two spots."
One thing the men’s team has been missing this season is senior presence.
With both senior standouts Jimmy Clark and Eddie Garcia redshirted, Spangler and the rest of the team have had to fill the leadership void.
"Having those guys (Jimmy and Eddie) out there on a consistent basis helps out a lot," Spangler said. "Those guys are phenomenal teammates and leaders and I think not having them out there has affected the team a little bit. But as we move forward both of those gentlemen are competing in track and they’ll both be back next year alongside the rest of the team."
If the season were to wind down this weekend with a third place or worse finish for the men, the team can look forward with confidence in 2015.
The future is bright for the Gators as young stars will lead the way for the team at this Friday’s Regional meet. All-SEC Freshman Thomas Howell has had previous success at the course the team will run this week.
"That’s where I won my first state championship in high school," Howell said. "I am very familiar with the course. But of course this time it is a 10K instead of a 5K. I am looking forward to it, I love that course and I miss that course. I’ve done some big things there and hopefully I can do it again in the coming weeks."
Heading into SEC’s, Spangler made the decision to hold the teams back in training. Now that the team has had two weeks to prepare for the Regional meet, the regimen has changed again.
"What I’ve found looking back on the training, we’ve got a guys and girls who want to work hard," Spangler said. "Sometimes there is a tendency to overwork them. That’s something I have got to do a better job of, not pushing them over the edge."
The women will be led by freshman Lauren Brasure and sophomore Taylor Tubbs, who have headed the team all season. Brasure was sick at SEC’s and had one of her slowest races to date.
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The Florida women's cross country team accepts its first-place trophy at the 2014 Mountain Dew Invitational