Florida was one of two auto-qualifying teams to emerge from the 2023 NCAA South Regional which was hosted by the Gators at Mark Bostick Golf Course on Friday morning.
— Gators Track and Field & Cross Country (@GatorsTF) November 10, 2023
The team’s qualification for the National Championship marks the first time the women have done so since 2018 when the team placed 16th. The 2023 National Championship will be held in Charlottesville, Virginia and will be hosted by the University of Virginia.
Despite no athlete on the current roster being present for the Gators trip to the NCAA Championships in 2018, this group has a surprising amount of experience at the event.
Parker Valby participated in the event as an individual in 2022, finishing second and being named the 2022 NCAA Cross Country Runner-Up.
The Gators also have three other top-40 2022 NCAA Cross Country Championships finishers on their roster in Flomena Asekol, Amelia Mazza-Downie and Elise Thorner
Asekol finished 14th at the meet, Mazza-Downie finished 22nd and Thorner finished 40th. Asekol was a part of a third-place finish by the University of Alabama while Mazza-Downie and Thorner were part of a second-place finish by New Mexico.
With this in mind the team hopes to chase the program’s highest placement of 7th which they accomplished in 1981 and 2009.
HOW THE GATORS PUNCHED THEIR TICKET
The Women’s 6k Championship started promptly at 8:30 a.m. with the sound of the gun setting off the group of Gators including Valby, Asekol, Wilson, Thorner, Lucinda Rourke, Liina Winborn and Sayla Donnelley as well as the rest of the pack.
Valby continued her dominant 2023 season as she finished first in the NCAA South Region for the second consecutive year. The redshirt junior from Tampa, Florida crossed the finish line with an outstanding time of 17:59.6.
Asekol also recorded a top-10 finish as she was slotted eighth at the conclusion of the race. She was the second Gator to score and did so with a time of 18:53.5.
Allison Wilson was flying on the course Friday morning as the redshirt junior finished in 14th with a time just over nineteen minutes: 19:02.0.
Thorner was the fourth Gator to complete the 6k race finishing 25th and recording a time of…