Columbia, SC - In a tough race and hard-fought battle, the Florida
women’s cross country team was victorious in Columbia Monday, winning its second consecutive Southeastern Conference title at Hilton Field at Fort Jackson. The team title, which Florida won by one point (60) over Arkansas (61), marked the program’s fifth all-time title and was the second time in program history the Gators have won back-to-back team titles after also winning in 1996 and 1997.
Florida’s men additionally rose to the challenge at the 2010 conference
meet, securing third place, the best team finish for the UF men since
2007. The men’s squad finished in the top five at the conference meet
for the 14th consecutive year and in the top three for the ninth
consecutive season. Florida was just seven points shy (69) of
second-place team and defending champion Alabama (62 points), while
Arkansas captured this year's men’s team title with 34 points.
“I’m really proud of this group of women. The things that have gone on
this fall have really tested them through the course of the season. We
came back from a rough meet two weeks ago at Pre-NCAAs and did great today. They really had to believe they were going to come out here, run hard and win. Today really showed their character,” assistant track and cross country coach Todd Morgan said. “This was a great team effort and (head track and field/cross country coach) Mike Holloway helped tremendously to keep our group focused through some of the challenging weeks. All of that focus showed today and it was really great for everyone here to be a part of it.”
“Our front-five runners, Charlotte, Rebecca, Genevieve, Corey and Steph knew that we had Arkansas at us with 800 meters to go. Each one of those five women passed people over the course of the last 600 meters and won it for us,” Morgan continued. “At that point in the race, it was about them wanting it more than anyone else. All five of those women stepped up and got it done for us. It was really exciting and they did phenomenal over the last course of the race.”
The UF’s women’s squad, of which four student-athletes of the nine SEC competitors are freshmen or sophomores, placed two on the first-team All-SEC list in top finisher Charlotte Browning (Chichester, England) and junior Rebecca Lowe (Vaucluse, Australia), who placed third (21:11.13) and sixth (21:15.47), respectively, and one on the
second-team All-SEC list, junior Genevieve LaCaze (Daisy Hill,
Australia), for her eighth-place finish (21:16.10).
The freshman duo of Corey McGee (Pass Christian, Miss.) and Stephanie Strasser (Fernandina Beach, Fla.) rallied as Florida’s fourth and fifth scorers with performances that impressed, each receiving SEC All-Freshman Team accolades. McGee, the second freshman finisher in the field of 100 athletes, clocked a 21:33.17, 17th-place overall finish, while Strasser, the fourth freshman finisher overall, crossed the finish line in 21:49.94, good for 26th in the field of competitors.
“Corey went out aggressive, fought hard and had a tremendous race. She’s had a great fall. Steph Strasser has worked really hard this fall and all of that showed today. Steph hasn’t run in our top five before, but in one of the biggest meets of the year, she did it, and her hard work paid off on a day that matters a lot,” Morgan said of the two freshman top-five Florida scorers. Four additional Gator women’s team members, sophomores Callie Cooper (St. Augustine, Fla.) (22:18.36) and Mandy Perkins (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (22:24.99), senior Ali Crabb (St. Petersburg, Fla.) (23:38.75) and freshman Sarah Davis (Jacksonville, Fla.) (23:38.85) also represented the Orange and Blue in Columbia in spots six through nine for the Gators, rallying for 43rd, 46th, 54th and 55th overall.
On the men’s side, Florida’s squad showed tremendous improvement from last season’s fourth-place SEC finish, as the Gators improved to third overall as a team, and were just shy of second place by seven points. Strength and talent from several newcomers and young team members led the Gators Monday. Florida’s men ran a smart 8K race, let by junior Dumisane Hlaselo (South Africa), who finished fifth overall in 24:08.32, the sixth-fastest 8K at the SEC Championship meet in Florida history, picking up first-team All-SEC honors.
“Dumi is new to cross country and he’s picking it up quickly,” Morgan
explained. “We’re really excited about him – he’s a great guy for us up
front and we’re excited about the future with him – he’s a gifted
runner. All of those guys really came out and showed that they’ve had
the desire to improve since last year at this point in time, and that
showed today,” Morgan said of the men’s team’s efforts. “They are a
tight group of guys that got behind each other and had a solid day. If
there are ever a couple of guys having an off day, the others step in
and step up. That’s what a good team does and that’s what they did
The talent of the Florida freshman recruiting class was just as
prevalent on the men’s side as the women’s, as Tallahassee native,
freshman Matt Mizereck, crossed the finish line as Florida’s third
scorer overall, achieving 15th place and reeling in SEC All-Freshman
Team honors as the second freshman to finish the men’s 8K race.
“Matt is a tremendous competitor with a lot of ability. He has a lot of
poise in racing and that showed today. He’s been having a great fall.
We knew he was a big time guy out of high school, but its one thing to come out of high school with credentials and it’s another to do it. He’s
backing it up, which is what we knew he was capable of doing when we signed him.”
Perhaps the most improvement came from 2010 second-team All-SEC sophomore Derek Wehunt (Odessa, Fla.), who was UF’s second scorer in 13th place after coming in 58th at last year’s league meet. Wehunt additionally put up a personal-best time, crossing the finish line in 24:39.35.
Veteran men’s leaders, seniors James Uthmeier (Destin, Fla.) and Anthony Morales (Palm Coast, Fla.), rallied as Florida’s final fourth and fifth scorers (16th and 20th overall), while sophomore Danny Manco (Miami, Fla.), junior Josh Izewski (Doylestown, Pa.) and junior Michael Anderson (Williston, Fla.) rounded out the UF men’s competitors in 23rd, 29th and 33rd.
Of note: Florida’s last three SEC Championship titles have come in
Columbia, S. C. – baseball (2010), women’s soccer, which just won the
2010 SEC regular-season soccer title in Columbia Friday, and women’s
cross country Monday.
Florida will head into the postseason Nov. 13 when it takes on the NCAA South Region Championships in Birmingham, Ala., in two weeks.
WOMEN’S SEC CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM RESULTS
1. Florida, 60 points
2. Arkansas, 61 points
3. Vanderbilt, 76 points
4. Georgia, 130 points
5. Mississippi State, 156 points
6. Alabama, 177 points
7. Auburn, 190 points
8. Kentucky, 207 points
9. Ole Miss, 209 points
10. South Carolina, 251 points
11. LSU, 279 points
12. Tennessee, 326 points
UF WOMEN’S FINISHERS (6K)
3. Charlotte Browning, 21:11.13 ^
6. Rebecca Lowe, 21:15.47 ^
8. Genevieve LaCaze, 21:16.10 #
17. Cory McGee, 21:33.17 %
26. Stephanie Strasser, 21:49.94 %
43. Callie Cooper, 22:18.36
46. Mandy Perkins, 22:24.99
54. Ali Crabb, 23:38.75
55. Sarah Davis, 23:38.85
^ - first-team All-SEC
# - second-team All-SEC
% - SEC All-Freshman Team
WOMEN’S SEC INDIVID1. Kristie Krueger, Georgia, 20:41.25
MEN’S SEC CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM RESULTS
1. Arkansas, 34 points
2. Alabama, 62 points
3. Florida, 69 points
4. Tennessee, 132 points
5. Ole Miss, 154 points
6. Georgia, 155 points
7. Mississippi Stae, 211 points
8. Kentucky, 222 points
9. LSU, 231 points
10. Auburn, 234 points
11. Vanderbilt, 278 points
UF MEN’S FINISHERS (8K)
5. Dumisane Hlaselo, 24:08.32 ^
13. Derek Wehunt, 24:39.35 # *
15. Matt Mizereck, 24:42.94 %
16. James Uthmeier, 24:44.29
20. Anthony Morales, 24:51.50
23. Danny Manco, 25:00.63
29. Josh Izewski, 25:20.68
33. Michael Anderson, 25:29.46
^ - first-team All-SEC
# - second-team All-SEC
* - personal-best time
% - SEC All-Freshman Team
MEN’S SEC INDIVIDUAL CHAMPION
1. Barnabus Kirui, Ole Miss, 23:52.07