After finishing 21st last weekend in the Great American Cross Country Festival in North Carolina, the Miami men’s cross country team looks to improve upon their poor performance in tomorrow’s University of Florida Gator Invitational in Gainesville.
The meet is a preview for the SEC championships, which will be held at Florida at the end of the season. Top SEC teams such as Florida, Tennessee, and Kentucky will compete, as well as Miami and Florida State.
“Tennessee, UF, and FSU are all very good teams in our South Region,” said senior captain Dan Boniface. “We know we have the ability to compete with them and have a better showing than last week.”
The race will be run on the University of Florida golf course, which is made up of slightly rolling hills and manicured fairways. The course should not give the Hurricanes trouble, unless of course it rains, which was the result last week in Charlotte.
“We do most of our training on golf courses, so we should be prepared for the course at UF,” Boniface said. “It is a fast course that has more hills than anything we race on down here. Hopefully the weather conditions will be in our favor.”
The Hurricanes struggled last week against the likes of national powerhouses No. 5 Northern Arizona (team title winner), No. 7 North Carolina State, No. 8 Georgetown, No. 16 Colorado State, No. 19 Duke, and No. 23 Butler. The rainy weather made for horrible running conditions on an unconventional course.
The Hurricanes’ No. 2 runner, junior Matt Mulvaney, placed the best for Miami at No. 56, while team captain and No. 1 runner, Boniface, finished No. 72.
“The competition will not be as tough as last week, so I would like to work together with Matt and be near the front of the pack,” Boniface said. “We can beat these teams. On any given day, myself or Matt can win.”
Mulvaney defeated every runner from the NCAA South Region in the Great American Festival last week, except for South Florida’s Andrew Smith. In order to qualify for the NCAA Championships as an individual, a runner must be amongst the top four individuals not on a qualifying team at the NCAA South Regional race on Nov. 16, in Knoxville, Tenn. Mulvaney’s performance last week would indicate a legitimate shot at qualifying individually this season.
Miami must compete tomorrow without the services of No. 5 runner, freshman Matt “The Moose” Maloney, who will travel home to New Hampshire this weekend due to a death in the family. Miami will look to sophomore Billy Bludgus to step up in Maloney’s place.
“We will need a big race from Billy,” Boniface said. “Matt (Maloney) has to take care of things at home, which is clearly more important than a race.”
The ‘Canes hope to come home from state rival Florida with good results in order to be better prepared for the eventual Big East Championships on Nov. 1.
You can reach Brian Poliakoff at email@example.com.