FOUR BITS: Smith, Bowerman, women’s basketball

1 » Florida Gators senior sprinter Calvin Smith advanced to the semifinals of the men’s 400-meter dash at the USA Track & Field Championship at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, IA on Thursday. Smith placed second in his heat and moves on to the next race, which will also include former Florida sprinter, Olympic gold medalist and, four-time World Champion and indoor 400-meter world record holder Kerron Clement.

2 » Three Gators track & field athletes – sophomore sprinter Jeff Demps, senior thrower Mariam Kevkhishvili and sophomore jumper Christian Taylor – have been named as top 10 finalists for The Bowerman, the sport’s highest honor. The men’s and women’s categories, respectively, will be knocked down to three finalists in the next few weeks, and voting from the 100-member panel will commence from there.

3 » Like its male counterpart, the Florida women’s basketball team has agreed to face the Central Florida Knights in 2010; however, instead of a regular season game, the two teams will square-off in the first round of the 2010 Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament on Nov. 13. The game time will be scheduled at a later date.

4 » Probably more than any other sport, college basketball coaches are hired based on relationships, working experience and recommendations. Louisville head coach Rick Pitino played an instrumental role in Billy Donovan’s elevation to the top job with Florida, and the Tuscaloosa News reports that he also helped Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant get his new job because of his relationship with Donovan. “When Alabama was getting ready to make a change, a good friend of mine, (UA trustee) John McMahon, called me to see about my interest in the job and I said, ‘John I’m not going to move any more in my life,’” Pitino said. “We talked about certain people and I said, ‘You just mentioned someone that I think is one of the premiere young coaches in basketball. He has all the intangible things that will make a great coach some day.”

Pitino also raved about Grant’s potential. “Look at what Billy Donovan has been able to do,” he said. “Anthony can do the same thing. […] I think he’s going to take Alabama to great heights. It’s going to take a little time here. He’s got guys leaving that shouldn’t leave, and he’s going to get the players in that he’s comfortable coaching and he’s going to take them to the top of the SEC.” Pitino even helped facilitate the move, which you can read more about here.

Photo Credit: CBS via University of Florida

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Demps picks football over USA T&F Championship

Florida Gators junior running back and multiple 2010 NCAA Championship-winning sophomore sprinter Jeff Demps will not compete at the 2010 USA Track & Field Championship in Des Moines, IA from June 23-27.

Instead, Demps will remain in Gainesville, FL, and concentrate on re-conditioning his body with director of strength and conditioning Mickey Marotti for the football season, according to the Orlando Sentinel’s Andrea Adelson.

“Running a 9.96 in the 100 meters (at the NCAA Championship) and doing what he does on the football field and doing what he did in the indoor track season, [Demps] couldn’t have done that if he didn’t keep his body in shape and mind in shape,” Marotti told ESPN this week. “This isn’t a normal track athlete. I don’t want to categorize anybody, but this guy is different now. You tell him to go 100 percent, and that’s the way he’s going to go. He’s definitely been a workout warrior. There’s no way he would have been able to run that 9.96 without being one.”

Even so, Demps (and no doubt the football staff) believes it is now time he focuses on the upcoming football season. His four track titles this year (Outdoors – 100 meters, 4×100 relay; Indoors – 60-meters, team championship) will stand as reminders of what he can accomplish after the season commences.

Though Demps will be sitting out, six Gators will be competing at the USA Track & Field Championship over the weekend. Sophomore Christian Taylor will be vying for the men’s triple jump title, senior sprinters R.J. Anderson and Calvin Smith will compete in the men’s 400-meter dash, freshman Omar Craddock goes for the men’s junior triple jump, freshman Lanie Whittaker will try to win the women’s junior 400-meter dash and freshman Ugonna Ndu will press her luck at the women’s junior 400-meter hurdles.

Photo Credit: Caitlin Healy

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Demps wins 2010 NCAA Championship in 100m

Florida Gators sophomore sprinter Jeff Demps and senior thrower Mariam Kevkhishvili each took home national titles on Friday during the third day of competition at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor National Championships in Eugene, OR.

Demps, competing in the men’s 100-meter dash, won with a time of 9.96 seconds. He was also victorious in the same event at the 2010 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championship and captured the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championship in the 60-meter dash earlier this academic year.

“It was a great race today,” Demps said after the victory. “I executed well and came out with the win. I know my team needed the points and I just came out to get the 10 points to try to help us win the team title.”

Kevkhishvili, who became just the second student-athlete in NCAA history to win five women’s shot put national titles (indoors and outdoors combined), took her event at Hayward Field Friday with a distance of 18.11m/59-5. She is also the second woman in NCAA history to claim both the indoor and outdoor women’s shot put titles in back-to-back seasons. Kevkhishvili ends her Gators career a perfect 13-for-13 in her senior season and undefeated for the last two years.

“I am happy to win my fifth NCAA title,” she said. “I wasn’t really happy with my throw, but I’m glad I was able to score 10 points and help my team today.”

The two new title holders join sophomore jumper Christian Taylor, who won the men’s triple jump on Thursday, as Florida’s individual winners so far during the event.

As a team, UF is second in the men’s standings with 28 points through 13 events; Texas A&M leads with 36. On the women’s side, Florida are tied for seventh with 16 points, 14 shy of the leader Oregon (30). The final day of competition is Saturday.

Photo Credit: CBS via University of Florida

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Taylor wins 2010 NCAA Outdoor Triple Jump title

The track and field teams will continue to work hard to bring home the event’s overall titles over the next few days, but Florida Gators sophomore jumper Christian Taylor made an initial splash Wednesday by capturing the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championship in men’s triple jump at Hayward Field in Eugene, OR.

The two-time defending NCAA Indoor Champion in the triple jump, Taylor leapt 17.09m/56-1 (+2.9) to set the 2010 American mark and win the title – the first in school history.

“Getting the outdoor title means a lot to me,” Taylor said. “Heading into the finals, I knew I needed to step up and get the job done and I’m glad I was able to do it.”

As a team, the Gators men’s squad (the 2010 NCAA Indoor Champions) is in second place through two events. Their 13 points are one behind the leaders, Texas A&M.

Also in action Wednesday were Florida’s sprinters. Sophomore Jeff Demps led the men’s 4×100-meter relay team – including junior Chris Rainey, senior Jeremy Hall and junior Terrell Wilks – to an event-leading 38.94-second time in the preliminary round, advancing the unit to the finals at 1:11 p.m. on Saturday.

Demps, who won the 2010 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championship in the men’s 100-meter dash, came in second during preliminaries in the event at 10.15 seconds (+2.2). He will compete in the event finals at 8:25 p.m. on Friday.

Senior sprinter Calvin Smith also won a trip to the finals Wednesday; he advanced in the men’s 400-meter dash with a time of 45.64 seconds – good for fourth. Smith will race just after Demps, at 9:25 p.m. on Friday.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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Gators honored with USTFCCCA regional awards

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) honored five Florida Gators with South Region awards on Friday for their accomplishments during the 2010 outdoor track & field season.

Senior thrower Mariam Kevkhishvili (Women’s Field Athlete of the Year), sophomore jumper Christian Taylor (Men’s Field Athlete of the Year), Mike Holloway (Men’s & Women’s Coach of the Year), Dick Booth (Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year) and Steve Lemke (Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year) were all recognized just one week before their team takes part in the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships from June 9-12 in Eugene, OR.

Kevkhishvili, Taylor and Holloway also took home the same respective awards from the Southeastern Conference in May. Holloway has now won five awards in 2010, including the same honors from the USTFCCCA for the indoor season, the 2010 USTFCCCA National Men’s Indoor Head Coach of the Year and the 2010 SEC Indoor Women’s Head Coach 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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SIX BITS: Baseball wins, Baker OK, seven Gators qualify, tennis updates, lacrosse rookie of year

1 » Faced with elimination, top-seeded No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (41-4) rode past the No. 12 Arkansas Razorbacks (40-18) 5-4 in the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday at Regions Park in Hoover, AL. Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis (9-2) picked up the win, tossing 6.2 innings, striking out five and giving up three earned runs. Junior closer Kevin Chapman earned his 11th save of the season, though he did give up a run in the ninth and final inning of the game. Freshman third baseman Austin Maddox (2-4) led the way with two RBI, and freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-3) scored two runs. Florida will face Vanderbilt (41-16) in the second elimination game of the tournament Friday evening, airing live at ESPN3.com.

2 » Still making touchdowns – but now for the Jacksonville Sharks of the AFL – former Gators wide receiver Dallas Baker was faced with an injury scare Saturday night in a 46-44 win over the Cleveland Gladiators. “I thought I tore something,” Baker told The Florida Times-Union. Instead Baker, who scored twice during the game before falling to the turf, suffered a sprain according to an MRI exam after the game. He is second on the team this season with 416 yards and nine touchdowns in five games played.

Four more BITS on track & field qualifiers, tennis’ NCAA wins and losses and a Gator winning Rookie of the Year…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Baseball wins, Baker OK, seven Gators qualify, tennis updates, lacrosse rookie of year

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Three Gators earn SEC track & field awards

Florida Gators track & field captured three end-of-season honors from the Southeastern Conference on Monday. Head coach Mike Holloway was named the SEC Men’s Head Coach of the Year, senior thrower Mariam Kevkhishvili was named the SEC Women’s Field Athlete of the Year and sophomore jumper Christian Taylor was named the SEC Men’s Field Athlete of the Year.

The University of Florida took home more total awards in this period than any other school, with Ole Miss, Auburn and Tennessee each receiving two honors.

Holloway is racking up the awards this season. He has already been named the 2010 SEC Indoor Women’s Head Coach of the Year, 2010 USTFCCCA National Men’s Indoor Head Coach of the Year and 2010 USTFCCCA Indoor South Region Men’s and Women’s Head Coach of the Year.

One of the most accomplished athletes in school history, Kevkhishvili is hoping to complete an undefeated season and is on the watch list for The Bowerman. A four-time National Champion and seven-time All-American, she won the 2010 SEC Outdoor Championship for shot put (her third in four years) and leads the nation with a career-high mark of 18.46m/60-6.75.

Taylor also had a great year, winning the 2010 SEC Outdoor Championship in triple jump and as the third leg of the 4×400-meter relay team. He also finished second in individual point standings at the event.

The Gators track & field program has already captured three titles this season. The men won the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championship and 2010 SEC Outdoor Championship, while the women took home the 2010 SEC Indoor Championship. Both programs begin competing for their 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championship in the next few days.

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