UF off pace at SEC Cross Country

Published: Friday, November 1, 2013 at 6:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 1, 2013 at 6:08 p.m.

Behind 1-2-3 finishes in both the men's and women's races at the SEC Cross Country Championships held Friday at the Mark Bostick Golf Course, Arkansas swept the team titles.

The Razorbacks not only left Gainesville with both team trophies, winning easily with scores of 31 points (men) and 32 points (women), but swept all six individual medals (top three finishers in each race) as well in a dominating display.

Host Florida, led by top-five individual finishes from junior Jimmy Clark and senior Agata Strausa, respectively, placed second in the men's 8K race with 96 points and fourth in the women's 6K event with 150 points.

Clark's fifth-place finish (23:57.03) garnered him his first All-SEC first-team honor, while teammate Mark Parrish, UF's lone senior running in his final home meet, just missed his third straight first-team honor (top-seven finish) with an eighth-place effort (24:04.01) to earn second-team kudos.

Carlos Miranda, UF's fourth finisher (29th, 24:55.40), earned SEC All-Freshman honors, finishing between juniors Eddie Garcia (13th, 24:21.64) and J. L. Hines (41st, 25:10.47).

“Our top two guys, Mark Parrish and Jimmy Clark, really did a good job of grinding it through on a day when they felt a little bit tired, and Eddie Garcia, our third guy, really came through for us; he's had a great year,” UF coach Paul Spangler said. “Carlos Miranda, a freshman, to run under 25 minutes on this course is a phenomenal job, and J.L. Hines, somebody who has been out with an injury and somebody we were counting on today, he really came through. So overall, I'm pleased with the guys.”

Only 11 points separated the next three teams behind the Razorbacks, who captured their fourth straight SEC title and 21st overall in 23 years of SEC competition. UF was second, ahead of Georgia (101) and Missouri (107), with Kentucky (173) edging Auburn (175) for fifth.

Florida's runner-up finish tied the 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2011 squads for the program's best since UF won its last of three SEC titles in 1987.

Individual winner Kemoy Campbell of Arkansas, a senior from Jamaica, set a blistering pace, building a 20-second lead on the rest of the field by the first mile marker and never letting up en route to shattering the course record (23:34) and setting an SEC meet mark with a personal-best time of 22:58.73.

Campbell was more than 41 seconds ahead of teammate Stanley Kebenei, who was second in 23:40.12, but the next six finishers were separated by less than seven seconds.

“Right off the bat, it was a grind,” Clark said. “There were a couple of times in the race when it was a gut check, and I was able to hang on and have a strong finish.”

The fourth-place finish for the UF women, the defending champs who had won three of the last four SEC titles but are dealing with some injury issues, was their lowest since 2007.

“I know the girls aren't pleased with where they finished,” Spangler said. “We've got a couple of weeks to get that fixed and get ready for the NCAA Regional Championships in Tuscaloosa (Nov. 15).”

Arkansas sophomore Dominique Scott was the individual winner, crossing first in a time of 20:02.81 – the No. 2 all-time course mark.

Strausa was the bright spot for the Gators, placing a career-best fourth overall in a personal-best time of 20:17.79 to earn her second straight All-SEC first-team honor in her final home meet.

“I was actually thinking about that while I was racing,” Strausa said. “I was like, 'It's my last mile,' and that was a great motivation. I was able to take all the atmosphere in, and it was great to have all the support out there.”

Fellow senior Cory McGee was UF's next finisher, placing 16th (21:01.16). Completing the Gators' scoring were sophomore Julie Macedo (30th, 21:30.55), freshman Taylor Tubbs (37th, 21:41.30) and senior Shelby Hayes (67th, 22:17.79).

Team-wise, Texas A&M (123) was a distant second, followed by Kentucky (134) and UF, with Vanderbilt (161) rounding out the top five.

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