The Gators men’s and women's cross country teams ended their season at the NCAA South Regional Championship Friday.
Florida has not advanced to the NCAA Championships since 2015. For 12 of the 14 runners on the Gators roster, it was their first time running in a NCAA regional meet.
Junior Caitlin McQuilkin-Bell made her third return to the meet, and showed her expertise on the course by finishing first overall for the Gators in 51st with a time of 21:17.8, a career best.
The women, placing 22nd overall, were severely affected by injuries this season. Injuries continued to plague the team even into Friday’s meet, where redshirt junior Lauren Perry did not race because of a nerve impingement in her heel.
“I️ thought the ladies really played the cards we were dealt with, considering injuries, very well,” assistant coach Chris Solinsky said in a release. “To walk out with four personal bests and two season bests, shows the progress we have made this season and how bright our future is.”
Redshirt junior Morgan Hull, who led the pack for the Gators at the SEC Championships, also made an impact, finishing the 6K with a time of 21:26.0 and securing a place in 65th.
The Gators men’s team pulled into a 15th pace finish, with redshirt sophomore Jack Rogers leading the team with a 69th place finish. Four seconds behind Rogers was redshirt freshman Marshall Dillon, who earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team last meet.
“The men really executed our plan well of running together and putting themselves in the race,” Solinsky said. “It was everyone’s first 10k, so there was a little shock in the later parts of the race, but they all gathered themselves and finished strong.”
Both the men and women’s distance runners will now begin training for the indoor track and field season in the spring.
“The future is bright for the Gators,” Solinsky said. “We are excited to keep building momentum to make some noise in track and use that to springboard us into much better overall team results next cross country season.”
You can follow Alana Gomez on Twitter @alanaa_gomez, and contact her at [email protected].