Top 12 for 2012: On the Field Moments of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2012 (check out Sunday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From breathtaking moments, game-changing and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting world records, Florida accomplished some unique athletic feats in 2012. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 12 On the Field Moments of the Year.

12 » MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH
If there was a theme to Gators athletics in the spring it was Florida teams falling short of their goals. In addition to men’s indoor track & field, women’s outdoor track & field and men’s swimming & diving all just coming up just short of winning major titles, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, lacrosse and softball all gave valiant efforts but faced immense disappointment in the end. It all started with the Gators basketball team, which advanced to the Elite Eight for the second-straight year and once again choked away a late lead and failed to advance to the Final Four. Up 11 points with 8:14 left in the game, Florida was outscored 18-3 down the stretch by Louisville, which held on for the 72-68 victory. The Gators hit just 1-of-12 shots over the final 8:14 while also going 1-for-4 from the charity stripe down the stretch and 0-for-9 from downtown over the final 20 minutes. Gymnastics did just about everything it could during the 2012 NCAA Super Six in late April but came just short of earning the first national title in program history, falling 197.850-197.775 to Alabama and losing by 0.075 points. Next up was softball, which looked primed to return to the championship game of the 2012 Women’s College World Series for the third time in the last four years. Instead, Florida got upended 10-1 by eventual national champion Alabama in the finals of the 2012 SEC Tournament and was eliminated in the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2012 NCAA Tournament due in part to suspensions levied against three key players. It was the first time since 2006 that UF did not at least advance to the Super Regional. A controversial finish led to another tough loss for lacrosse (see No. 9), leaving one sport to provide the ultimate disappointment to Gators fans in 2012.

Perhaps most heartbreaking for Gators fans was seeing a baseball team that was the national title favorite from the very start of the season fall fast and finish the campaign without a single title. Cruising along in the SEC Tournament with a one-run lead and three outs to go in the championship game, Florida baseball collapsed against Vanderbilt, allowing its opponents to score five runs on five hits in the top of the ninth and hold on for the title. Junior closer Austin Maddox imploded after coming on to get the final three outs, giving up a lead-off double to right and eventually allowing Vandy to tie the game after a sacrifice bunt, hit batter and suicide squeeze. It only got worse from there. The Commodores accomplished a double steal, hit an infield single, loaded the bases (intentional walk, double steal, intentional walk) and then pulled off a triple steal to score their third run of the inning. A two-run single put the nail in the coffin as the Gators allowed more stolen bases in a single frame (seven) than had ever been given up in an entire SEC Tournament game in the history of the event. With horrible memories of the SEC Tournament behind them and the NCAA Tournament upcoming, Florida hoped to use the experience to improve as a team. The Gators did advance to the College World Series but were swept right out of it with consecutive losses. Florida fell 7-3 to South Carolina in its first game before allowing an unranked Kent State team to register a 5-4 upset victory in the second game. The Gators coughed up four unearned runs, committed two errors and failed to plate runs despite having numerous opportunities to hit with runners in scoring position. With so much talent on the roster and a track record of success – the team got to the championship series just one year earlier – Florida baseball legitimately blew a great national title chance.

[Read: The Silver Lining - "Failure" is not a dirty word]

11 » FLORIDA SWEEPS FSU IN FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, BASEBALL

For the first time in school history, the Gators swept the Seminoles in football, basketball and baseball (5-0) in a calendar year. Florida State having a historically successful baseball team has stood in the way of Florida’s ability to accomplish this feat in the past, but Gators baseball completed its first regular-season sweep of the Seminoles since 1958 by earning a 9-2 victory in Gainesville, FL, 4-1 victory in Jacksonville, FL and a 6-3 win on the road in Tallahassee, FL. Florida football bounced back from consecutive losses to FSU with a 37-26 beat down in Tallahassee, and UF basketball matched the football team’s intensity with a 72-47 rout on the road.

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FOUR BITS: Olympics, Brissett, Tebow, Harvin

1 » The Florida Gators official announced on Thursday something that has been long rumored – the team will honor current and former University of Florida student-athletes that participated in the 2012 London Olympics at halftime of the team’s home game against the LSU Tigers on Saturday. Featured at the event will be swimming medalists Ryan Lochte and junior Elizabeth Beisel as well as track & field medalists Christian Taylor and Will Claye, who make up just four of the more than 20 athletes and coaches being honored at halftime.

2 » Could sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett be on his way out the door? It’s possible, says Dwyer High School head coach Jack Daniels, who recently spoke with the Palm Beach Post’s Matt Porter. In a series of tweets sent out Thursday, Porter notes that “Brissett is all-in this season [and has] no plans to transfer” yet also notes that West Virginia and South Florida are potential destinations. “He’s making the most of a situation he’s not happy with, but he knows that’s his team right now,” Daniels told Porter. “If he doesn’t get his chance, I’m pretty sure he’s leaving.” Brissett getting “his chance” would probably only occur if starter and classmate Jeff Driskel went down with some sort of injury or pulled a 180 and began regressing dramatically.

3 » Despite quarterback Mark Sanchez playing horribly through the first four games of the season, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan is not planning to insert Tim Tebow as his starter any time soon and said as much during media availabilities this week. But while Ryan may not be ready to make a chance, team owner Woody Johnson could insist on it, especially if the Jets continue playing this poorly. NFL.com reporter Jeff Darlington wrote this week that New York must embrace the inevitability of Tebow starting, a move that could very well turn the team’s season around. Also interesting about Darlington’s piece is the opening two paragraphs, which detail the lack of support Tebow had with the Denver Broncos from the get-go.

They marched one by one through the second floor of the Denver Broncos’ training facility, each quarterback stopping first in offensive coordinator Mike McCoy’s office to hear the same message that would then be echoed like a corporate line from coach John Fox.

“Stay ready,” McCoy told Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn, a story relayed by one team source and corroborated by another. “We’re not sure how long this is going to last.”

4 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin has already done some amazing things in his young NFL career but still managed to add another honor this week when he was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for September. Harvin, whose franchise-record 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last week undoubtedly fueled his receiving of the award, did not receive any honors last year after racking up the awards during his rookie campaign in 2009. He is currently averaging 74.75 yards on 7.5 receptions per game this season but has yet to find the end zone as a receiver or rusher.

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Florida Gators at the 2012 London Olympics

The 2012 London Olympics concluded on Sunday with the Florida Gators bringing home 16 event medals including four gold, six silver and six bronze over the course of 19 days worth of action across the pond.

In an effort to highlight the Gators’ praiseworthy accomplishments while simultaneously recapping over two weeks worth of athletic action, OGGOA presents this wrap up of the presence that Florida’s athletes made at the Olympics. Below you will find facts, figures and highlights of what the Gators accomplished from July 25 through Aug. 12.

You can check out the Olympic results as they happened as well as the official Gator Nation vs. The World medal count and plenty of other information by checking out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

FACTS AND FIGURES

» If Gator Nation was its own country, it would have been ranked 17th overall in the final Olympic medal both in weighted and grand total calculations. The Gators won as many gold medals (four) as Jamaica and Czech Republic and captured one more than Spain, Brazil and South Africa (among others).

» Twelve Florida athletes won a grand total of 18 individual medals (16 event medals) for three countries. Fourteen of the 16 medals won were captured for the United States.

» 35.3 percent of the Gators that competed in the Olympics (12-of-34) won at least one medal. 50 percent (17-of-34) at least reached a final or competed for a medal.

» Ryan Lochte (swimming, United States) led the way with five medals including two golds (one shared in a relay with Conor Dwyer), two silvers and a bronze. Following Lochte with two each were Elizabeth Beisel (swimming, United States) and Will Claye (athletics, United States), who both brought home a silver and a bronze.

» Three other Florida athletes won gold including Christian Taylor (athletics, United States), Abby Wambach and Heather Mitts (football, United States). The rest of the medals included a silver each from Tony McQuay and Jeff Demps (athletics, United States) as well as a bronze each from Lisa Raymond (tennis, United States), Melanie Booth (football, Canada) and Novlene Williams-Mills (athletics, Jamaica).

» Beisel is the only current UF student-athlete that medaled in the Olympics. She will be entering her junior year in 2012.

» Seventeen countries were represented by Gators including the United States (11), Great Britain (6), Cayman Islands and Iceland (two each) and Australia, Barbados, Canada, Colombia, Haiti, Hungary, Jamaica, Poland, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Spain and Tunisia (one each). Florida athletes also competed in five sports categories including swimming (19), athletics (10), football (three), basketball and tennis (one each).

Read the rest of “Florida Gators at the 2012 London Olympics” after the break…

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Beisel, Claye add bronze medals to Florida’s haul

Junior swimmer Elizabeth Beisel ended her journey at the 2012 London Olympics with a bang, and former Florida Gators jumper Will Claye started his in the same fashion as the duo each reeled in a bronze medal for the United States over the weekend.

Beisel, who previously captured a silver medal in the Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley on July 28, became the second-winningest Gators athlete of these Olympics so far (Ryan Lochte) with a bronze in the Women’s 200 Meter Backstroke on Friday.

One of the favorites in the event, Beisel was treading water in fourth place most of the race but fought hard over the final 50 meters to sneak into third and capture the bronze with a time of 2:06.55 (+2.49).

On the second day of athletics action, Claye found himself in a battle for a medal in the Men’s Long Jump. In second after his second jump (8.07m), Claye quickly got bumped down to fifth but was given three more jumps as he was still in the top eight.

He used the first of his new set of jumps to register a mark of 8.12m, which put him back in line for a silver medal. However, Australia’s Mitchell Watt was dynamic on his final two jumps and first took then increased his lead on Claye, hitting 8.13m on his fifth try and 8.16m on his sixth to claim the silver for himself.

Claye, who captured the first field medal in Gators history and the first Men’s Long Jump medal for the Americans since 2004, will be one of three former Florida student-athletes competing in the Men’s Triple Jump, which begins on Tuesday at 5:45 a.m.

For recaps of their performances, a full schedule (including updated events for Monday), live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

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OGGOA Week(end) in Review: July 26-29

Considering so much has gone on over the last few days in regards to the Florida Gators, the OGGOA Week In Review returns for its third edition. (Yes, it is just covering a four-day period, but let’s just all agree to ignore that.) Be sure to check out all of the posts in case you happened to miss a thing or two.

FOOTBALL RECRUITING / FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
» The day before Friday Night Lights was set to commence, Florida received a commitment from 2013 defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, FL), who vaulted the program five spots from 10th to 5th in the Rivals team recruiting rankings and immediately became the Gators’ highest-rated player of the cycle.

» Florida doubled up on commitments before FNL even began as three-star defensive end Antonio Riles (Lawrenceville, GA) chose UF over Georgia and committed even though he could not make it to campus for the event.

» There were rumblings all week that the Gators would receive a commitment from another highly-rated defensive prospect, but FNL came and went without him announcing his pledge. Four-star DE Jordan Sherit (Tampa, FL) remained in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, however, and made his verbal commitment public.

» Florida received its fourth commitment in as many days on Sunday when 2014 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Palm Bay, FL), expected to be one of the top players at his position when recruiting rankings are released for his class, ended his recruitment early and decided that he wanted to play for the Gators, too.

» More rumblings on Sunday indicated that Florida could go five-for-five in commitments and bring in a talented but underrated offensive playmaker on Monday though it remains to be seen if head coach Will Muschamp will give him a commitable offer and the opportunity to join the Gators.

2012 LONDON OLYMPICS
OGGOA has been offering full coverage of the Olympics all event long on this dedicated page, which includes a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, daily schedule and direct LIVE streaming links to each event as it takes place. Below are some notes in case you have not visited it yet and want a quick refresher.

» Ryan Lochte (United States) won two medals over the weekend including a gold in the Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, the fourth such medal of his Olympic career. Lochte also swam the final leg of the Men’s 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay but got caught from behind over the final 50 meters; the team finished with a silver. He will compete in the Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle finals on Monday afternoon.

» Junior Elizabeth Beisel (United States) took silver in the Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, the first Olympic medal of her young career. She nearly won the gold but was bested over the last 150 meters.

» Thirteen other Gators (as well as one incoming freshman) competed in Olympic action over the four-day span though none of them were able to join Lochte and Beisel in bringing home medals as of yet. Striker Abby Wambach was dominant once again in soccer and got a black eye in her match on Saturday, though she scored a goal in retaliation and mocked her assailant during her celebration.

» “Gator Nation” is currently eighth in the Olympic medal standings with one gold and two silver. You can view the full medal breakdown on OGGOA‘s dedicated Olympics page.

FORMER PLAYERS SPEAK OUT
» Florida quarterback Shane Matthews praised Muschamp and the current Gators coaching staff while noting that he was frustrated with the way former head coach Urban Meyer and his staff developed play callers and recruited in his waning years.

» Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah said he definitely had more fun at Florida than QB Tim Tebow did and provided an interesting answer when he was asked how much class he attended during his junior season when he was helping the Gators win the second of their back-to-back basketball national championships.

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Lochte takes gold, Beisel silver in 400 Meter I.M.

Former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte (United States) made an immediate impact on the 2012 London Olympics on Saturday, winning the first swimming gold medal of the games with a blazing 4:05.18 time in the Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley. He was joined on the medal stand just minutes later by current Florida junior Elizabeth Beisel (United States), who captured silver in the Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley.

The gold is the fourth of Lochte’s Olympic career as well as his seventh overall medal in the Games. He won the Men’s 200 Meter Backstroke in 2008 Beijing and was a member of the Men’s 4×200 Meter Freestyle Relay team in 2008 Beijing and 2004 Athens.

Lochte won a Bronze medal in the Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley in 2008 Beijing. He also captured a Bronze in the Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley that year and won Silver in the Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley in 2004 Athens.

His gold medal time of 4:05.18 on Saturday beat the next-fastest competitor, Brazilian silver medalist Thiago Pereira (4:08.86), by 3.68 seconds marking the largest margin of victory in the event’s history.

Beisel was back in eighth place after the first 100 meters but found herself leading the pack through 250 meters. Unfortunately for her China’s Shiwen Ye exploded over the last 150 meters and won the gold while setting a world record (4:28.43) in the process.

The silver medal is the first of Beisel’s Olympic career. She had previously won gold in the same event at the 2011 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai, China.

Also competing in a medal event and representing the Americans on Saturday afternoon was former Gators swimmer Conor Dwyer. Dwyer finished fifth in the Men’s 400 Meter Freestyle with a time of 3:46.24 (+6.25); a member of the Gator Swim Club for the last two years (and Michigan graduate Peter Vanderkaay) took Bronze in the event.

Be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

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7/2: Gators wrap up 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials

Seventeen current and former Florida Gators track & field athletes and 35 current and former Florida swimmers participated in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, OR and Omaha, NE over the last two weeks.

In all seven Gators – four track & field athletes, three swimmers – qualified for the 2012 London Olympics after competing in the two events. Joining these current and former student-athletes are Mike Holloway, an assistant coach on Team USA for sprinters and hurdlers, and Gregg Troy, the Americans’ head swimming coach for these Olympic games.

OGGOA will offer comprehensive coverage of the 2012 London Olympics including a dedicated page, numerous widgets and daily updates. Below is the final update for the track & field and swimming team trials, which concluded on Monday.

EVENT RESULTS – JULY 2

Swimming
WOMEN’S 50 METER FREESTYLE
Dara Torres4th – 24.82Did not qualify
» Torres’s Olympic career ends with 12 medals (four golds) over five games.

QUALIFIED ATHLETES

Track & Field
Junior Tony McQuay – Men’s 400 Meter Dash
Will Claye – Men’s Long Jump, Men’s Triple Jump
Christian Taylor – Men’s Triple Jump
Kerron Clement – Men’s 400 Meter Hurdles

Swimming
Ryan Lochte – Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle, Men’s 200 Meter Backstroke, Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley
Conor Dwyer – Men’s 400 Meter Freestyle, Men’s 800 Meter Freestyle Relay
Sophomore Elizabeth Beisel – Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, Women’s 200 Meter Backstroke

(Additional relays that McQuay, Clement, Lochte, Dwyer and Beisel may compete in have yet to be determined or announced.)

ELIMINATED ATHLETES

Track & Field
Senior Gray Horn – Men’s Decathalon – finished third, did not qualify
Junior Dwight Barbiasz – Men’s High Jump – advanced to finals
Wes Stockbarger – Men’s Discus Throw – advanced to finals
Senior Jeff Demps – Men’s 100 Meter Dash – advanced to finals
Freshman Marquis Dendy – Men’s Long Jump – advanced to finals
Mason Cathey – Women’s 3,000 Meter Steeplechase – advanced to finals
Calvin Smith – Men’s 400 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Sophomore Ebony Eutsey – Women’s 400 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Freshman Dedric Dukes – Men’s 200 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Sophomore Eddie Lovett – Men’s 110 Meter Hurdles – advanced to semifinals
Junior Jeremy Postin – Men’s Hammer Throw
Sophomore Cory McGee – Women’s 1,500 Meter Run

Swimming
Men: Rex Tullius (finals), Matthew Norton, Mike Joyce, Alex Martin, junior Cameron Martin, junior Jason Taylor, sophomore Connor Signorin, sophomore Bradley deBorde, freshman Matt Elliott (finals), freshman Austin Ringquist, freshman Matthew Curby, freshman Carlos Omana, freshman James Turner, freshman Austin Manganiello, freshman Ricky Munch, freshman Nicholas Caldwell, freshman Colin Hamilton, freshman Billy Silva
Women: Dara Torres (finals), senior Teresa Crippen (finals – 2), junior Jamie Bohunicky, junior Sharla Milne, sophomore Kaitlin Frehling, sophomore Trish Regan, sophomore Alicia Mathieu, sophomore Julia Treible, sophomore Alana Pazevic, freshman Rebecca Rainer, freshman Molly Dubrasky, freshman Jordan Smith, freshman Savannah Napier, freshman Lauren Neidigh,

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7/1: Gators at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials

Seventeen current and former Florida Gators track & field athletes are currently in Eugene, OR participating in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for the opportunity to represent their country in the 2012 London Olympics. Simultaneously, 35 current and former Gators swimmers are in Omaha, NE working toward the exact same goal.

Below is an update on how each has performed through the 10th (track & field) and seventh (swimming) days of the events as well as a schedule for the remainder of the trials.

EVENT RESULTS – JULY 1

Track & Field
MEN’S 400 METER HURDLES
Kerron Clement3rd – 48.89Qualified for Olympics
» Clement was a silver medalist in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Swimming
WOMEN’S 200 METER BACKSTROKE
Sophomore Elizabeth Beisel2nd – 2:07.58Qualified for Olympics
» Beisel also qualified in the 400 Meter Individual Medley.
Senior Teresa Crippen6th – 2:11.79Did not qualify

MEN’S 100 METER BUTTERFLY
Ryan Lochte3rd – 51.65Did not qualify

WOMEN’S 50 METER FREESTYLE (Semifinals)
Dara Torres3rd – 24.80Advanced to finals
» Next competing: Monday, July 2 from 8-9 p.m. live on NBC
» Did not advance to semifinals: sophomore Kaitlin Frehling (Heat 8 – 26.36)

QUALIFIED ATHLETES

Track & Field
Junior Tony McQuay – Men’s 400 Meter Dash
Will Claye – Men’s Long Jump, Men’s Triple Jump
Christian Taylor – Men’s Triple Jump
Kerron Clement – Men’s 400 Meter Hurdles

Swimming
Ryan Lochte – Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle, Men’s 200 Meter Backstroke, Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley
Conor Dwyer – Men’s 400 Meter Freestyle, Men’s 800 Meter Freestyle Relay
Sophomore Elizabeth Beisel – Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, Women’s 200 Meter Backstroke

UPCOMING EVENTS

Swimming
JULY 2 FINALS (8-9 p.m. live on NBC)
Women’s 50 Meter Freestyle, Men’s 1,500 Meter Freestyle

ELIMINATED ATHLETES

Track & Field
Senior Gray Horn – Men’s Decathalon – finished third, did not qualify
Junior Dwight Barbiasz – Men’s High Jump – advanced to finals
Christian Taylor – Men’s Long Jump – advanced to finals
Wes Stockbarger – Men’s Discus Throw – advanced to finals
Senior Jeff Demps – Men’s 100 Meter Dash – advanced to finals
Freshman Marquis Dendy – Men’s Long Jump – advanced to finals
Mason Cathey – Women’s 3,000 Meter Steeplechase – advanced to finals
Calvin Smith – Men’s 400 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Sophomore Ebony Eutsey – Women’s 400 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Freshman Dedric Dukes – Men’s 200 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Sophomore Eddie Lovett – Men’s 110 Meter Hurdles – advanced to semifinals
Junior Jeremy Postin – Men’s Hammer Throw
Sophomore Cory McGee – Women’s 1,500 Meter Run

Swimming
With so many athletes competing in multiple events, this will be updated after the trials.

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