While last year the Gators fielded a squad lacking in veteran runners, this year’s women’s cross country team will feature both youth and experience.
Led by junior Taylor Tubbs, redshirt sophomore Becky Greene and sophomore Lauren Brasure, the team will be looking to improve on a season in which it finished seventh in the Southeastern Conference — its worst finish since 2003 — and fifth in the regional championship.
Tubbs and Greene were both named 2014 All-Region performers, and Tubbs will try to build on her career-best 20:21.00 6K at the regional championship.
Greene found considerable success on the track in the offseason and was named the 2014 SEC Indoor Women’s Freshman Runner of the Year.
She’ll attempt to translate her success from the track to the terrain, where her 20:30.20 6K at last year’s regional championship was also a career-best.
The final member of the team’s "big three," Brasure, will look to improve on a season in which she finished first on the team in three races but seemed to struggle down the stretch, finishing behind both Tubbs and Greene in the season’s final two meets.
UF will also be counting on the contributions of returning upperclassman Devin McDermott, who is the only other runner still on the team — aside from the big three — to finish in the top-3 of a race last season.
Lauren Perry, who redshirted her freshman season after suffering from compartment syndrome, is one runner who could be a surprise contributor.
After struggling with leg injuries going all the way back to high school, it appears that she’s finally healthy and ready to compete following surgery for her compartment syndrome.
On the men’s side, sophomore Thomas Howell returns after being named to the All-SEC Freshman Team.
With a year of experience now under his belt, Howell will be called upon to lead the team’s underclassmen.
Some other probable contributors based on last season are redshirt junior Mac Reynolds, junior Carlos Miranda and senior Elliot Clemente. The trio of upperclassmen were responsible for nine top-3 finishes over the course of last season. For Clemente, his 31:41.00 10K at last season’s final meet was a career-best on which he can build. Reynolds and Miranda both failed to improve on their career-best marks all of last season, but will likely need to in order to stay in the starting rotation.
The biggest story for the men, however, is the return of seniors Jimmy Clark and Eddie Garcia following a yearlong hiatus.
After being held out of competition in 2014 to preserve an extra year of eligibility, the duo will be counted on to turn in performances on-par with 2013 in order to help the team rebound from a 10th place finish in the SEC.
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Taylor Tubbs races in the Southeastern Conference Championships on Nov. 1, 2013, on the Mark Bostick Golf Course.