With another weekend doubleheader rapidly approaching, Florida’s men’s and women’s cross country teams will once again be legging it out on two different fronts.
The scenes? Louisville, Kentucky, and Tampa, Florida.
The races? NCAA Pre-Nationals and the University of South Florida Invitational.
The competition? Stacked.
Florida’s A-teams will line up against quality competition when they take to the Louisville terrain.
In addition to facing a combined seven Southeastern Conference foes, both contingents are set to square off against a field rife with ranked opponents.
For the men, Colorado and Oregon present the most daunting challenge — ranked at No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, these two powerhouses highlight a bracket that boasts 11 USTFCCCA-ranked teams.
As for the women, eight competitors crack the top-30, with Colorado (No. 2), Oregon (No. 4), Michigan (No. 5), Georgetown (No. 7) and Stanford (No. 9) occupying top-10 spots.
Opting for a mixture of experience and youth, coach Paul Spangler named nine runners to the men’s top squad.
Leading the way, redshirt seniors Eddie Garcia, Jimmy Clark and Charles Chambers hope to set the pace for a group that contains three true freshmen.
As for the women, their top six will race without redshirt sophomore Becky Greene and junior Taylor Tubbs.
The pair of runners are both scratched this weekend due to illness or injury.
Making only their second appearance at the event since 2000, UF’s B-teams figure to turn in a strong showing at the USF Invitational, as they hope to build off of a solid performance at Oct. 2’s Florida State Invitational.
History bodes well here for the Gators — the men’s contingent took first place at the team’s last appearance in 2011, with the women placing three runners in the top-15 and closing the day in fourth.
With nothing else separating the team between this weekend’s slate and SEC Championships on Oct. 30, the time has come for the runners to gain some momentum heading into championship season.
Kicking off today, the women will compete in the USF Invitational 6k at 5:00 p.m., with the men lacing up for a 5:40 p.m. 8k.
Pre-Nationals begin Saturday — the men race at 9:30 a.m., while the women are scheduled for a 10:15 a.m. start.
Follow Alejandro Lopez on Twitter @ajlb95
Jimmy Clark races during the 2013 Mountain Dew Invitational.