FOUR BITS: FSU wins, awards, Sloan, Brombacher

1 » Competing in their fourth and final game of the season, No. 8 Florida State Seminoles baseball (24-9) once again took it to the No. 4 Florida Gators (26-8), turning miscues into runs to prevail 3-1 on Tuesday night in Tallahassee, FL in front of a sold out crowd of 6,357 fans. Florida State improved to 3-1 against Florida with the win; the Gators’ only victory came via a hard-fought 5-4 win in extra innings. Junior left-handed pitcher Alex Panteliodis (2-1) picked up the loss for UF but only gave up one earned run while striking out five in 5.0 innings. In for relief, junior right-handed pitcher Greg Larson only allowed two hits but threw a pair of wild pitches that allowed the Seminoles to tack on two runs. Florida was held scorless through the first eight innings on the game before sophomore designated hitter Brian Johnson (2-4, RBI) knocked home junior right fielder Preston Tucker (1-3, R, BB) in the ninth.

2 » The Second Annual Florida Letterman Awards were held on Monday with a number of UF’s student-athletes bringing home honors. The list of award recipients and their respective sports is below:

- Mr. & Ms. Orange & Blue: Christian Taylor (track and field), Megan Bush (softball)
- Team of the Year: women’s swimming and diving, men’s indoor track and field
- Athlete of the Year: Conor Dwyer (swimming) and Christian Taylor (track and field), Mariam Kevkhishvili (track & field)
- Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Max Lang (track and field); Rebekah Zaiser (gymnastics)
- Performance of the Year: Conor Dwyer (NCAA swimming meet) and Gray Horn (SEC decathlon), Charlotte Browning (NCAA track meet)
- Academic Teams of Year: men’s golf, women’s gymnastics
- Play of the Year: Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey, Terrell Wilks and Jeremy Hall (4X100 relay 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships); Shara Stafford and Gemma Spofforth (200-meter freestyle at 2010 NCAA Championships)
- Rookie of the Year: Austin Maddox (baseball), Ashanee Dickerson (gymnastics)
- Comeback Athlete of the Year: Tommy Toledo (baseball), McKenzie Barney (soccer)
- Character Award: Bobby Walsh (swimming), Daisy Glasser (track and field)
- Goodwill Gator: Max Lang (track and field), Stephanie Brombacher (softball)

3 » Gators gymnastics got great news Wednesday as Bridget Sloan, the all-around champion at the 2009 World Championships and an Olympian for the United States in 2008, signed a letter of intent to join the University of Florida. Sloan will not enroll at UF for more than a year as she will first pursue participation in the 2012 London Olympics. “Making this decision was by far one of the hardest of my life, and I took a long time and put a lot of thought into it, but it came down to where I felt the most comfortable,” Sloan said according to a Florida release. “Florida seemed like the best place for me academically and for gymnastics, and I’m excited to be a Gator.”

4 » Gators softball’s senior ace RHP, Brombacher may see the mound for the first time in more than a month on Wednesday against Florida International. She has been out of action with a number of lingering arm injuries, most recently having problems with her bicep. However, according to the Independent Florida Alligator, Brombacher “threw almost every day last week” and could be back on the diamond Wednesday either as the starter or in a limited role.

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Top 10 for 2010: On the Field Moments of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2010, the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From game-winning baskets to displays of pure emotion, Florida experienced some unique athletic moments in 2010. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 10 On the Field Moments of the Year.

OGGOA RELATED: Top 10 for 2010: Off the Field Stories of the Year

10 » FLORIDA WINS INAUGURAL LACROSSE GAME (2/20/10)
When Florida decided it wanted to start another women’s athletics program, the University Athletic Association did extensive research and found out that women’s lacrosse would be the perfect fit. In preparation for their first season, the Gators and head coach Amanda O’Leary secured the country’s No. 1 recruiting class (according to Inside Lacrosse Magazine). All the hard work and preparation to get the team ready paid off on Feb. 20 when lacrosse debuted in the brand new Donald R. Dizney Stadium to a boisterous crowd of 2,114 spectators. Florida defeated Jacksonville 16-6 behind four goals and four assists from freshman sensation Ashley Bruns. All-in-all the Gators faced 16 championship-caliber teams and played so well that they reached the 2010 ALC Tournament semifinals. In just their second year of existence, Florida women’s lacrosse is ranked as the No. 17 team in the country going into the 2011 season.

9 » NEAR VICTORIES/HEARTBREAKING LOSSES (5/25/10 * 3/18/10 * 10/9/10)

It is rare for teams to go undefeated and even less likely that an entire athletic program can go through a season without its share of close losses and nail biting finishes. Such was the case for the Gators in 2010. On May 25, No. 3 women’s tennis was barely defeated by the No. 8 Stanford Cardinal for the 2010 NCAA National Championship. Stanford won 4-3 after Florida rallied when they were just two individual games away from being defeated. The Gators forced third sets in two singles matches; sophomore Joanna Mather took down her opponent but senior No. 65 Marrit Boonstra was not as lucky. Losing her first set 6-4, Boonstra fought back to even her match with No. 33 Mallory Burdette by taking the second set 6-7 (4). Down 2-0 in the third, she pushed ahead with a valiant effort to take a 5-4 lead but ended up losing her final three games, the match itself and the championship.

Returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons, No. 10-seed Florida got in a bit easier than some might have expected. Matched up against the No. 7-seed Brigham Young Cougars in the event’s opening game, the Gators fought hard but could not stop Cougars star guard Jimmer Fredette. Allowing BYU to jump ahead 59-46 in the second half, UF came back behind freshman G Kenny Boynton and junior forward Chandler Parsons. Florida missed potential game-winners during regulation (Parsons) and the first overtime (Boynton) and eventually fell to Brigham Young 99-92 in a double-overtime heartbreaker with Fredette adding to his game-high 37 points.

Though losing a national championship and NCAA Tournament game are both difficult, Gators fans will probably look back on No. 12/14 Florida’s shocking loss to the No. 9/12 LSU Tigers on Oct. 10 as the worst near-victory of the season. Wearing orange jerseys for the first time since 1989, the Gators came back from a 12-point deficit when freshman wide receiver Andre Debose returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, sophomore running back Mike Gillislee rumbled in for a touchdown and redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley completed a two-point conversion to sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive. All Florida wanted when its defense came out was a stop, but LSU put together a 62-yard game-winning drive that included numerous third down conversions and a converted fake field goal attempt on fourth down from UF’s 36-yard line with 35 seconds remaining. Back-to-back passes to WR Terrence Toliver (of 28 and 3 yards, respectively) and the Tigers left The Swamp with a 33-29 victory. Players have noted that the loss was a negative turning point in the season, one that may or may not have led to the team dropping their third-straight game one week later at home to Mississippi State.

Continue Reading » Top 10 for 2010: On the Field Moments of the Year

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FOUR BITS: Softball up one, doubles falls, track

1 » No. 4 Florida Gators softball (47-8) began its quest for a berth in the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series with an 8-0 shutout of the No. 13 Arizona State Sun Devils (44-16) while hosting the Gainesville Super Regional on Saturday night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Junior starter Stephanie Brombacher (33-6) has been dynamite in the postseason; she recorded her 11th shutout of the year, pitching a complete game and only yielding four hits. Junior outfielder Kelsey Bruder (2-3) and senior third baseman Corrie Brooks (2-2) each led the Gators with three RBI, while freshman designated player Brittany Schutte (2-3) added two. Florida hopes to conclude Super Regional action by prevailing in the second game, Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

2 » The Gators’ No. 5 doubles pair of senior Marrit Boonstra and freshman Allie Will was eliminated from competition for the 2010 NCAA National Championship Saturday, falling 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 to Tennessee’s No. 1 duo of Natalie Pluskota and Caitlin Whoriskey at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA. Florida tennis – both men’s and women’s – has now been completely removed from NCAA competition for this season.

Find out which Gators qualified for the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships and what sport Georgia is going after Florida in…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Softball up one, doubles falls, track

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No. 3 Florida Gators men’s track & field captures 2010 SEC Outdoor Championship

No. 3 Florida Gators men’s track & field won the 2010 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championship on Sunday, the team’s first since 1987, by scoring 124 total team points at Tom Black Track in Knoxville, TN. The victory marks men’s track & field’s second major title this year – the team won the 2010 NCAA Indoor National Championship (the first in program history) back on March 14.

Florida’s four individual event titles propelled them to the SEC Championship victory. Sophomore sprinter Jeff Demps captured the 100-meter dash, sophomore Gray Horn defended his 2009 SEC Championship in the decathalon, sophomore Christian Taylor took home the triple jump and the four-man team of Taylor, senior R.J. Anderson, senior Calvin Smith and freshman Tony McQuay won the 4×400-meter relay.

Demps became the Gators’ first SEC Champion in the men’s 100-meter dash since 2000, while Taylor carried the same honor in men’s triple jump for the first time since 1976. Horn’s decathalon score of 7,652 was a career-high and second-best in school history. He is the ninth person in conference history to win the title back-to-back and first since 1974. Horn is also the only Florida track & field athlete to win an SEC decathalon title.

Florida’s No. 10 women’s team, which finished second in their respective event to the No. 2 LSU Tigers (which won their third SEC Championship in the last four years), posted a total team score of 107.5 points. Like the men, the women raked in the individual titles and captured five all-together.

Senior distance runner Charlotte Browning defended her 2009 SEC Championship in the 1,500-meter run, senior Mariam Kevkhishvili won the shot put, senior Evelin Dekkers took home the javelin event and senior Shara Proctor was victorious in both the long jump and triple jump.

Browning’s 1,500-meter run time of 4:13.96 was her career-best and the second-fastest time in school history. Even more impressive were the victories by Kevkhishvili in the shot put and Proctor in the triple jump – each woman won the SEC title for her third time in her respective event.

The Gators will now close the season beginning May 27-29 with the NCAA East Preliminary Round, which can earn them a berth in the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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FOUR BITS: Baker, The Bowerman, Tebow, Nike

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Dallas Baker, most recently waived/injured by the NFL‘s Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 6, 2009, has signed on with the Jacksonville Sharks of the newly revamped AFL. The Sharks are one of two new franchises being introduced to the league this year, and Baker joins fellow Gators cornerback Dee Webb on the team. The Sharks are 1-0 already this season with a 54-38 victory over the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz last week.

2 » Each year, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association hands out The Bowerman award which recognizes the most outstanding collegiate men’s and women’s track & field athlete. Three current Florida student-athletes are on The Bowerman’s watch list as of April 7: women’s senior thrower Mariam Kevkhishvili, men’s freshman sprinter Jeff Demps (new addition) and men’s sophomore jumper Christian Taylor. The Gators also boast women’s senior jumper Shara Proctor and women’s junior/senior distance runner Charlotte Browning as honorable mentions at this time. The award will not be handed out until December.

3 » Sourcing NFL.com draft analyst Gil Brandt, Jerry McDoanld of InsideBayArea.com says the Oakland Raiders have a high level of interest in former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. According to Brandt’s story, Tebow was asked by the Raiders’ coaching staff to break down a play. He replied, “This is how it’s called with Florida, this is how it’s called with your organization and this is how it’s called with West coast teams.” Brandt went on to say, “I think that when you get a quarterback and he reacts that quickly, you know that the guy is not only pretty smart, but he does have that mental quickness to adjust very fast.”

4 » Apparel and shoe company Nike has officially announced its partnership with Tebow. Click the link below to read the full press release.
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Baker, The Bowerman, Tebow, Nike

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Florida Gators capture first men’s track & field title

No. 1 Florida Gators track and field captured their first national title in program history Saturday night, winning the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championship with 57 total team points. Their performance, coupled with a fourth-place finish for the women’s team, was one of the most successful national meets in program history.

Competing at the Randal Tyson Track Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR, the Gators won by 13 points over the Oregon Ducks and Texas A&M Aggies, who tied for second-place with 44 team points. The national title victory is the 23rd in University of Florida athletics history.

Sophomore running back and freshman sprinter Jeff Demps captured the NCAA men’s 60-meter dash championship, the first in school history. His 6.57 time was one-hundreth of a second shy of his own 6.56 record-setting time that was accomplished during the preliminaries on Friday.

Senior thrower Mariam Kevkhishvili of Georgia took home the NCAA indoor shot put title. She is the second woman in NCAA history to win three-straight titles in this event. Kevkhishvili tossed a school-record 18.59m/61-0 for the win Saturday, shattering her previous personal record of 18.56/60-10.75. One of the most accomplished Florida track and field athletes of all time, she has now won 13 consecutive indoor competitions.

Also bringing home titles for the Gators over the weekend were junior distance runner Charlotte Browning (women’s mile) and men’s sophomore jumper Christian Taylor (men’s triple dump). In all, Florida took home 16 All-America honors at the NCAAs.

Though the indoor season is over for the Gators, the 2010 outdoor track and field season begins in just one week, on Sat., March 20.

Photo Credit: GatorZone.com

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FOUR BITS: Baseball wins, lacrosse falls to No. 5

Bubble Watch » All four teams riding the 2010 NCAA Tournament bubble \in action Tuesday won their respective contests. South Florida (20-11) took down DePaul 58-49, Rhode Island (22-8) defeated Saint Joseph’s 87-76, Dayton (20-11) lit up George Washington 70-60 and Seton Hall (19-11) was victorious over Providence 109-106.

1 » In the first of what will be a 10-game homestand, No. 6/7 Florida Gators baseball (8-2) took down the Illinois State Redbirds (4-6) 8-2 Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Freshman starter Hudson Randall (2-0) tossed five innings of one-run ball along with five strikeouts as the Gators carried a 8-1 lead into the top of the eighth inning. Freshman first baseman Austin Maddox went 1-4 with a home run in the sixth, three RBI and two runs; sophomore outfielder Tyler Thompson supported him with a 2-4 performance with two RBI; and freshman OF Kamm Washington was 3-4 with an RBI and three stolen bases.

2 » A team filled with mostly freshman, Florida lacrosse has already had a remarkable inaugural season. Looking to put a feather in its cap Tuesday, the Gators (3-2) took the No. 5 Georgetown Hoyas (2-1) to the wire, falling 13-11 in just under two hours. Freshman goalkeeper Cara Carrington (3-2) got the loss as fellow freshman Caroline Chesterman contributed three goals and five shots in 65 minutes of field time. Each team accounted for 33 shots and 11 ground balls, but Georgetown cleared more shots than Florida – 17/17 to 12/16. The Hoyas outscored the Gators 10-5 in the first period, but UF came roaring back with a 6-3 total in the second period.

Two more BITS on awards given to the Florida Gators…after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Baseball wins, lacrosse falls to No. 5

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SIX BITS: SEC titles, softball sweep, gymnastics

1 » No. 3 Florida Gators women’s track and field won the 2010 Southeastern Conference Indoor Championship Sunday, its first since the 2004 season. Scoring 110 total points, the team was led by junior Charlotte Browning and senior Shara Proctor, who were named co-winners of the Cliff Harper Trophy for the SEC’s high-points scorer. The men’s team finished second at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, AR, as the home team Arkansas Razorbacks beat them out for the men’s crown 123-119. Both the women’s and men’s teams also captured numerous individual SEC titles over the weekend.

2 » No. 3/11 Gators softball (12-1) swept the Northwestern State Lady Demons (8-5) 15-0, 5-0 and 10-1 over the weekend at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Sophomore outfielder Michelle Moultrie powered Florida’s offense by going 5-8 (.625) with a double, triple, home run and six RBI, while junior OF Kelsey Bruder joined her with similar 5-8 performance for four runs, two homers, six RBI and 11 total bases. Junior pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (10-1) won each game of the series, striking out a combined 13 and only allowing three walks.

Read four more BITS on gymnastics, lacrosse, men’s tennis and Senior Day…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: SEC titles, softball sweep, gymnastics

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