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Monday, April 22, 2024

The UF cross country team is coming off a disappointing 2017 season and is looking to surprise the SEC and the NCAA South Region in 2018.

The Gators bring back a lot of experience on both the men’s and women’s teams this year along with some youthful talent that should help contribute right away.

For the men, three runners that redshirted a year ago will be available.

Redshirt sophomore Colin Schaefer and redshirt juniors Jack Guyton and Magnus Pettersen all impressed at the 2016 SEC Championships and 2016 NCAA South Regional Championships. The trio went on to finish in the top 100 at both events.

Redshirt freshmen Matt Clark and Nick Deal were both highly rated out of high school and will look to help catapult the UF men up the rankings this season.

Like Clark and Deal, freshman Trevor Foley will be hoping to place his stamp on the program in his first college season. The 2017 cross country gold medalist was a five-time state champion in high school and should help improve the team tremendously.

The women also returns a group of strong runners from the 2017 campaign.

For the women’s team, 2016 All-SEC First Team runner Elisabeth Bergh returns after redshirting last season. Bergh finished in the top 10 at both the 2016 SEC Championships and the 2016 NCAA South Regional Championships.

Junior Jessica Pascoe, redshirt senior Morgan Hull and senior Caitlin McQuilkin-Bell all impressed with top-100 finishes at the SEC Championships last season.

Like the men, the Gators are bringing in some fresh faces on the women’s side as well.

Freshman Grace Blair won back-to-back individual high school titles in 2016 and 2017, and Redshirt freshman Abbie Harrelson finished runner-up for Niceville High in the 2016 FHSAA Class 3A Cross Country Championship.

Both newcomers should help provide a spark in their first season competing as Gators.

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The UF men are projected to finish tied for sixth, while the UF women are projected to finish eighth in the SEC Cross Country Preseason Coaches’ Poll.

Both teams finished just 10th and 13th last year, respectively.

Florida’s first meet of the season takes place on Sept. 7, at the UNF invitational in Jacksonville.

 

You can follow Evan Lepak on Twitter @evanmplepakkk or follow him at elepak@alligator.org. 

 

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