With football and basketball both in the spotlight and Florida Gators gymnastics winning a third straight NCAA National Championship last week, it was easy to overlook two other tremendous accomplishments made by Gators athletic programs in the form of regular-season league titles won this month.
Winning a league title, earning an important series victory, maintaining a long winning streak and remaining undefeated, Florida Gators athletic programs accomplished plenty over the last weekend. Let’s take a look at all of it in the Weekend Wrap.
Thrice is nice
Florida men’s swimming captured a third-straight Southeastern Conference Championship over the weekend, using three individual event titles won in Auburn, Alabama, to catapult the program to its 36th SEC Championship.
UF (1,314.5) edged Georgia (1,134.5) and Auburn (1,084.0) for the crown with freshman Caeleb Dressel (100-yard butterfly); sophomore Mitch D’Arrigo (500-yard freestyle); and the foursome of senior Dan Wallace, junior Pawel Werner, redshirt sophomore Nicholas Alexiou and D’Arrigo (800-yard freestyle relay) bringing home individual SEC titles. The relay team set a league and school record with a time of 6:12.85.
The Gators’ women finished third but also picked up four individual titles via junior Natalie Hinds (100-yard freestyle), freshman Amelia Maughan (200-yard freestyle), redshirt freshman Theresa Michalak (200-yard individual medley) and junior Jessica Thielmann (1,650-yard freestyle). Hinds set a program mark with a time of 47.26 seconds.
In total, Florida over the weekend added automatic qualifications for 25 events in the forthcoming 2015 NCAA Championships.
No. 1 Florida Gators women’s tennis entered the 2013 NCAA Tournament hoping to achieve the second national championship three-peat in school history. Instead, Florida was dealt a stinging 4-3 defeat by the No. 12 Stanford Cardinal in the semifinals of the event, sending the Gators home from Champaign, IL a day early.
Stanford, the last team to beat Florida in NCAA play when it topped UF for the 2010 national title, snapped the Gators’ 16-match NCAA Tournament winning streak on Monday by outworking the favorites in doubles play and singles action. UF was participating in its fourth-straight NCAA Tournament semifinal and looking to advance to the event’s finals for the fourth consecutive season.
Florida’s year-long struggles in doubles were a factor as the teams of No. 11 senior Lauren Embree/junior Sofie Oyen and junior Alex Cercone/senior Caroline Hitimana both dropped their matches 8-3. It was the 10th time this season that the Gators lost the doubles point and faced an early 1-0 deficit.
The Cardinal, which fell to UF 4-2 in Gainesville, FL on Feb. 24, also won the doubles point that day, but the home team came back and won four singles matches.
Florida (26-3) and Stanford (21-4) split the first sets, but the Cardinal quickly increased their lead substantially by pulling off two relatively easy singles victories.
No. 1 Florida Gators women’s tennis (26-2) advanced to the semifinals of the 2013 NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight season with a 4-2 victory over the No. 8 California Golden Bears (19-6) on Sunday in Champaign, IL.
Florida improved to 23-5 all-time in quarterfinal matches and is moving on to the semifinals for the seventh time in the last nine seasons as well as the 23rd time in school history. UF swept the first three opponents it has faced in the NCAA Tournament and now holds a combined 16-2 match record in this year’s event.
The Gators started things off with the No. 11 duo of senior Lauren Embree and junior Sofie Oyen winning four-straight games to clinch the doubles point with an 8-4 victory over the No. 33 team of Lynn Chi and Anett Schutting. Freshmen Danielle Collins and Brianna Morgan, Florida’s third doubles team, had previously won their match 8-4 to put Embree/Oyen in position to clinch the point.
When the six singles matches got underway, the Gators were able to pull off four first-set victories. However, the Golden Bears knotted things up at 1-1 as No. 5 Zsofi Susanyi routed No. 51 junior Alex Cercone in straight sets (6-1, 6-1).
Cal was not able to hold even with Florida as No. 1 Embree quickly got the lead back for UF by taking down No. 8 Schutting with ease 6-2, 6-0. Junior No. 123 Olivia Janowicz added to the lead by beating Tayler Davis just minutes later 6-1, 6-4.
The Golden Bears drew closer when No. 43 Klara Fabikova upset No. 17 Oyen (7-5, 6-4), reducing the Gators’ advantage to 3-2 with three matches in progress. It only took senior No. 116 Caroline Hitimana a few moments to shut the door on the quarterfinals, however, as she closed out a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Annie Goransson to clinch the match.
Florida will remain in Champaign for the rest of the tournament as it looks to defend its back-to-back NCAA titles. The Gators have now won 16-straight NCAA Tournament matches dating back to 2011 and are currently on a 19-match winning streak dating back to March 3. Florida will next take on No. 12 Stanford on Monday at 6 p.m.
The Gators beat the Cardinal previously this season, 4-2 on Feb. 24. in Gainesville, FL, but UF suffered its last NCAA Tournament loss at the hands of SU, which won 4-3 in the 2010 national championship game.
No. 1 Florida Gators women’s tennis (25-2) advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight season with a 4-0 sweep of the No. 15 Duke Blue Devils (16-10) on Friday in Champaign, IL.
Florida improved to 27-3 all-time in round of 16 matches and is moving on to the quarterfinals for the eighth time in the last nine seasons as well as the 27th time in school history. UF has swept all three opponents they have faced in the NCAA Tournament, amassing a combined 12-0 match record so far in this year’s event.
The Gators were partially gifted the doubles point on Friday as the Blue Devils’ injuries made them unable to field a third doubles team. The No. 11 duo of senior Lauren Embree and junior Sofie Oyen cruised to an 8-1 victory to clinch the point.
Duke was also forced to forfeit a singles match due to injury, putting Florida up 2-0 before singles action even began. No. 123 junior Olivia Janowicz put UF ahead 3-0 by quickly dispatching of Nicole Lipp 6-1, 6-2, and No. 89 freshman Brianna Morgan earned a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Marianne Jodoin to clinch the match for the Gators.
Florida will remain in Champaign for the rest of the tournament as it looks to defend its back-to-back NCAA titles. The Gators have now won 15-straight NCAA Tournament matches dating back to 2011 and are currently on an 18-match winning streak dating back to March 3. Florida will next take on No. 8 California on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Florida Gators senior Lauren Embree was named the 2013 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year on Wednesday, becoming the first player in the history of the award to be honored with it three times in her career.
Embree, who was also named SEC Player of the Year in 2010 and 2012, is 39-0 for her career in singles matches during conference play. She is 17-0 overall this season and 10-0 against SEC opponents. Embree has also been a catalyst in the Gators winning eight total SEC Championships including four-straight SEC regular-season titles and four-straight SEC Tournament titles.
“It is really special to me,” Embree said in a school release. “I’ve never thought I’d be the first player to win this award so many times because there are and have been so many talented and great players in the SEC.
“I’m not really focused on awards. I just try and come out every day and win for the team and for my teammates. It’s an extra cool award to get and it’s something I want to thank my coaches and teammates who have helped me.”
Head women’s tennis coach Roland Thornqvist, who was named SEC Coach of the Year for the fourth time in the last 11 seasons, praised Embree just like he has throughout her entire career.
The historic weekend for Florida Gators women’s athletics continued on Sunday when the second-ranked tennis team brought home the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship, winning the event for the fourth-straight season by taking down the Georgia Bulldogs 4-0 in Starkville, MS.
The Gators (22-2) have now swept the SEC regular season and tournament championships in each of the last four years, capturing 10 of the last 13 (and 18 of the last 23) SEC Tournament titles.
Florida seniors Lauren Embree and Caroline Hitimana, which became the first players to win a regular-season SEC title in each of their four years with the program, doubled-up on their historic accomplishments and are now a perfect 8-0 in league championship opportunities.
Though the Gators have struggled in doubles action this season, Florida took an early 1-0 lead by winning the point over the accomplished Bulldogs (21-3). The freshman duo of Danielle Collins and Brianna Morgan won 8-3 on court three, putting the onus on the No. 22 team of Embree and junior Sofie Oyen to come through in the clutch on court one. Embree and Oyen fought to the finish and won a tiebreak over the No. 1 duo of Kate Fuller and Silvia Garcia to spot Florida the early advantage.
Though UGA gave a valiant effort in singles action, UF’s talent simply overwhelmed its long-time SEC East rivals.
1 » Former Florida Gators currently playing in the NBA collectively had an interesting last three days. Centers Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks and Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls each started March off on fire after concluding February with a career game. Horford averaged 22 points, six rebounds, 3.5 assists and three steals in two weekend games, while Noah posted two more double-doubles and averages of 17.5 points, 10 boards, five assists and 2.5 blocks in his two games. Washington Wizards rookie guard Bradley Beal posted a career-high 29 points in a double-double performance (11 rebounds) on Friday but then went down hard on Sunday with a sprained left ankle that was so painful it reportedly caused him to blackout on the court. X-rays came back negative but Beal remains day-to-day for the Wizards. Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons capped off the weekend with an explosive performance Sunday, scoring a career-high 32 points on 12-of-13 shooting (6-of-7 from downtown) in just 30 minutes. He became the first player since Larry Bird to score 30+ points, shoot 92 percent or better and attempt at least five three-pointers. Parsons, a second-round pick and second-year player, continues to be an incredibly valuable player for the Rockets; he has scored 20+ points in four-straight games.
2 » Entering the weekend unranked and losers of five-straight games to Georgia Southern, Florida Gulf Coast (three) and North Florida, Florida baseball first dropped its sixth-straight contest before rallying to win the final two games of its weekend series against the Miami Hurricanes. The Gators (5-7) handed the Canes (10-2) their first two losses on the season, toppling their foes with a four-run eighth inning on Saturday and a four-run third inning on Sunday. Sophomore catcher Taylor Gushue (3/8, 4 RBI, R, 2 BB) led Florida offensively and helped both freshman right-handed reliever Jay Carmichael (1-1) and sophomore RHP Johnny Magliozzi (1-0) pick up their first victories of the season. UF plays five games in the next seven days including a home-and-home against Jacksonville and a three-game series at home against Indiana.
Read five more BITS of Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: NBA, baseball, Tebow, women, Gillespie