Florida Women Secure Championship Victory: Coach Will Palmer has certainly found success, guiding the Florida women’s cross country team to its first SEC championship since 2012, marking his second consecutive title after leading Alabama to victory last year. This achievement comes in the face of tough competition, particularly from the University of Arkansas, which boasts 22 cross country championships, finishing second to Palmer’s team for the second year in a row.
The Florida women’s team secured the championship in Columbia, S.C., with 49 points, while Arkansas closely followed with 59 points. This victory adds to Palmer’s impressive coaching record, having been at the helm of Alabama’s historic SEC title win last year.
The Razorbacks, under the leadership of first-year Arkansas assistant coach Megan Elliott, put up a strong fight, with their performance earning praise. Despite Florida’s veteran group, the Arkansas athletes showcased determination and executed their race plan effectively.
Junior Parker Valby played a pivotal role in Florida’s success, securing her second consecutive SEC title with a time of 18 minutes, 37.5 seconds. For Arkansas, freshman Paityn Noe stood out, finishing in fifth place with a time of 19:43.7. The Razorbacks’ Sydney Thorvaldson also had an impressive sixth-place finish.
This SEC championship was significant for Arkansas as it marked the first meet without longtime coach Lance Harter, who retired in June after 33 years of leading the cross country and track and field programs. Chris Johnson, promoted to the head coaching position, expressed pride in the team’s efforts, acknowledging the challenges of replacing key runners from the previous year.
Megan Elliott, entrusted with coaching the distance runners, demonstrated her coaching prowess in her SEC coaching debut. Despite coming up slightly short, the Razorbacks’ performance bodes well for the future, showcasing resilience, perseverance, and a hunger for success.
The SEC championship win adds another chapter to Will Palmer’s coaching success story, affirming his ability to lead teams to victory at the highest level of collegiate cross country competition.