6/21-23: Gators at 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials

Sixteen current and former Florida Gators 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. Below is an update on how they performed through the first three days of competition and a schedule for the remainder of the trials for each competitor.

Team Trials for track & field as well as swimming & diving (in Omaha, NE) continue until July 2. There are 32 additional Gators participating in the swimming & diving competitions.

EVENTS IN PROGRESS

MEN’S 100-METER DASH
Senior Jeff Demps2nd (Heat 2) – 10.18 secondsAdvanced to semifinals
Next competing: Sunday, June 24 at 5:30 p.m. (Heat 3)

MEN’S 400-METER DASH
Junior Tony McQuay1st (Heat 1) – 44.84 secondsAdvanced to finals
Next competing: Sunday, June 24 at 7:20 p.m. live on NBC (Heat 1)
Calvin Smith5th (Heat 1) – 45.61 secondsEliminated

WOMEN’S 400-METER DASH
Sophomore Ebony Eutsey6th (Heat 2) – 53.22 secondsEliminated

MEN’S LONG JUMP
Will Claye1st – 7.98m/26-2.25Advanced to finals
Next competing: Sunday, June 24 at 6:00 p.m. (Flight 1)
Christian Taylor3rd – 7.89m/25-10.75Advanced to finals
Next competing: Sunday, June 24 at 6:00 p.m. (Flight 1)
Freshman Marquis Dendy7th – 7.73m/25-4.50Advanced to finals
Next competing: Sunday, June 24 at 6:00 p.m. (Flight 1)

MEN’S HIGH JUMP
Junior Dwight Barbiasz11th – 2.15m/7-0.5Advanced to semifinals
Next competing: Monday, June 25 at 8:50 p.m. (Flight 1)

COMPLETED EVENTS

MEN’S DECATHALON
Senior Gray Horn3rd – 7,954Did not qualify

MEN’S HAMMER THROW
Junior Jeremy Postin14th – 67.51m/221-6Eliminated (Thursday)

UPCOMING EVENTS

MEN’S DISCUS THROW
Competing: Westley Stockbarger (June 25 at 6:30 p.m.)

WOMEN’S 1,500-METER RUN
Competing: Cory McGee (June 28 at 6:50 p.m.)

MEN’S TRIPLE JUMP
Competing: Will Claye, Omar Craddock, Christian Taylor (June 28 at 7:30 p.m.)

MEN’S 400-METER HURDLES
Competing: Kerron Clement (June 28 at 9:00 p.m. live on NBC Sports Network)

MEN’S 200-METER DASH
Competing: Dedric Dukes (June 29 at 4:45 p.m.)

MEN’S 110-METER HURDLES
Competing: Eddie Lovett (June 29 at 7:05 p.m. live on NBC Sports Network)

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FOUR BITS: Harvin, Lochte, McQuay, NBA Draft

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin spoke up Wednesday on Twitter to explain why he demanded a trade from the Minnesota Vikings. “Fans I said I have issues to be worked out money not at all being the problem,” he write. “I’ve [done] everything asked and more…me and [coach] have been speaking and are on the same page…theres nothing I can do.” If Harvin’s beef really is not about the money, it may be because he only played 58.4 percent of offensive snaps in 2011 and was rarely used in the team’s red zone package. A playmaker at heart, Harvin may feel he is not being provided with enough opportunities to help his team win and raise his stock in the final two years of his contract. It does sound as if Harvin’s “holdout” may only last one day, however, as head coach Leslie Frazier told KFAN radio that the player will be returning to practice on Thursday.

According to CBS Sports, Harvin has not been a model locker room player despite casting himself as the one being wronged here. Former WR Randy Moss served as Harvin’s mentor during his first few years in Minnesota and even suggested he get then-head coach Brad Childress fired. “Harvin, I’m told, for whatever reason, took that message to heart. Within a week after Moss was gone, Harvin and Childress got into an expletive-filled, heated exchange, started, I’m told, by Harvin,” writes Mike Freeman. “Several players had to pull the two men apart, fearing a physical encounter, and as they did, Harvin seconds later picked up a small weight and threw it at Childress.” That is now the second accusation of aggression against a coach on Harvin following his allegedly getting into an altercation with former Florida wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales.

2 » With the 2012 London Olympics just over a month away, ESPN has put together a huge feature on former Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte, who is one of the United States’ faces of the games and someone who will likely continue stacking gold medals at the event. Click here to read the extensive Ryan vs. Ryan feature after watching the two videos below of Lochte’s one-on-one interview from Gainesville, FL and him working out at Florida and being fine tuned by Gatorade.

3 » Gators junior sprinter Tony McQuay, who won three national titles this year and helped lead Florida men’s track & field to consecutive NCAA Championships in indoor and outdoor competition, has decided to forego his final year of eligibility and turn pro, according to The Independent Florida Alligator. “From freshman year to now, it has been a long journey,” McQuay said. “It’s been a great experience for me. To go out with a national title, to break school records and go down in history, especially since it’s my last year here, words can’t describe how I feel.” McQuay still plans to graduate and train in Gainesville but will sign with either Nike or Adidas rather than retain his amateur status. He is currently in Eugene, OR along with 16 other current and former Gators competing at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials hoping to earn a spot on Team USA.

4 » Despite the fact that 117 different schools have had players selected in NBA Drafts since 2002, only 10 have had 10 or more players selected in that time. As researched by CBS Sports’s Matt Norlander, Florida is alone in eighth place with 11 players selected in the draft since 2002 only behind teams like Kansas and UCLA (15); Texas, Duke and Kentucky (14); and Connecticut and North Carolina (12). Memphis and Arizona each finished tied for ninth with 10 players picked in that timeframe. Also impressive is that the Gators have had more than one-fifth of Southeastern Conference players selected in that time as the league came in fourth with 53 players picked and was preceded by the ACC (70), Pac-12 (63) and Big East (63).

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SIX BITS: Beal, Olympics, Cup awards, Crawford

1 » Could Florida Gators freshman guard Bradley Beal be the decided target of the Washington Wizards with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft on June 28? That appears to be the case after Washington completed a trade on Wednesday that sent a small forward Rashard Lewis and a second-round pick to New Orleans for SF Trevor Ariza and power forward/center Emeka Okafor. By adding two talented, starting-caliber frontcourt players, the chances that the Wizards would select a forward like Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Kansas’ Thomas Robinson (if he was even available) have been reduced significantly, meaning Beal could very well be the top player on their board with the draft just over a week away.

2 » Speaking of Beal, ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla wrote Wednesday about what weakness Beal needs to improve on ($) in order to have a productive NBA career.

Beal’s screen-and-roll ability in Billy Donovan‘s screen-and-roll-oriented offense was average at best. Often when challenged by the screener’s defender (usually a big man), Beal was not able to take him on and beat him off the dribble. Ultimately, Beal shot just 35 percent in the screen-and-roll, and his overall points produced for himself or his teammates was a paltry 0.7 points per possession.

Part of the reason Beal struggled in the screen-and-roll is that he is a straight-line driver. I don’t doubt that he has been working hard on his ballhandling creativity. If he is going to be more than a one-dimensional jump-shooter, he’ll be handling the ball a lot, especially because the NBA’s 24-second shot clock demands it.

3 » The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for track & field begin Friday in Eugene, OR with 17 total current and former Gators hoping to earn the opportunity to compete in the2012 London Olympics. Among those participating in the trials over the next 11 days are 10 current Florida student-athletes including: senior/junior Dwight Barbiasz (high jump), junior Omar Craddock (triple jump), junior/senior Jeff Demps (100-meter dash), freshman Marquis Dendy (long jump), freshman Dedric Dukes (200-meter dash), sophomore Ebony Eutsey (400-meter dash), sophomore Eddie Lovett (110-meter hurdles), sophomore Cory McGee (1,500-meter run), junior Tony McQuay (400-meter dash) and junior Jeremy Postin (hammer throw). Former Gators set to compete include: Hazel Clark (800-meter dash), Will Claye (long jump, triple jump), Kerron Clement (400-meter hurdles), Gray Horn (decathlon), Calvin Smith (400-meter dash), Wes Stockbarger (discus throw) and Christian Taylor (triple jump).

4 » The University of Florida athletic program finished No. 2 in the nation in the 2011-12 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup. Twelve Florida programs finished among the top 10 of their respective sport nationally including women’s tennis (No. 1), men’s indoor track & field (No. 1), men’s outdoor track & field (No. 1), gymnastics (No. 2), lacrosse (No. 3), men’s basketball (No. 5), volleyball (No. 5), baseball (No. 7), men’s swimming & diving (No. 8), women’s indoor track & field (No. 9), men’s tennis (No. 9) and women’s swimming and diving (No. 10). It is the fourth-straight year that the Gators have finished in the top four of the Cup’s final rankings and second time in the last three years (2009-10). Florida has never won the Cup but has finished in the top 10 in each of the 29 years it has been awarded. Stanford won for the 18th time, outscoring UF 1448.25-1314.00 in the final standings. Only 20 sports count for each school toward their final total, but the Cardinal have 35 to choose from while the Gators currently support 21 total sports.

5 » With just a handful of game remaining in the 2012 College World Series, which Florida was eliminated from on Monday, the end of the athletic season is nearly here which means the final standings for the 2012 Capital One Cup will be official shortly. As of press time, the Gators lead the men’s standings with 89 points (baseball has not been counted yet). The only way that Florida can lose their top spot is if Arkansas (currently ranked 17th with 39 points) wins the entire CWS (adding 60 points to their total) and UF is ranked eighth or worse when the final poll. In that scenario, the Gators would finish second by one point (99-98).

6 » The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team announced Monday that Florida sophomore right-handed pitcher Jonathon Crawford has been selected to play for the squad this summer. Crawford is one of six Southeastern Conference players to earn placement on the team, which consists of freshmen and sophomores from some of the nation’s top programs. He finished the 2012 season with a final record of 6-2 along with a 3.13 ERA and the team’s first solo no-hitter for in 21 years.

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FOUR BITS: Rosario, Donovan, McQuay, 2011-12

1 » Florida Gators senior guard Mike Rosario, playing with the Puerto Rico National Team in the 2012 Centrobasket Championship, registered seven points and three rebounds in his team’s easy 92-60 win over Panama on Monday. Puerto Rico is set to take on the Bahamas at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday as they continue in the event and hope to earn a bid to the 2012 London Olympics.

2 » In Brazil with the USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team, Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan improved to 3-0 in international competition as the Americans defeated host Brazil 83-64 on Monday in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. The United States has already qualified for the 2013 FIBA U18 World Championship set for next summer but still has plenty to accomplish in this tournament. The U.S. will take on Argentina on Tuesday in a semifinal game for the opportunity to play for the tournament title against either Canada or Brazil.

3 » Gators junior runner Tony McQuay was named a semifinalist for The Bowerman the biggest award in collegiate track & field on Tuesday, becoming the fifth student-athlete from Florida to receive the distinction in the last three years. Though UF has yet to bring home the prestigious award, McQuay has as legitimate of a shot as anyone before having won the national title in both the indoor and outdoor 400-meter dash. He also anchored the Gators’ 4×400-meter team that captured the outdoor national championship and was one of the two top performers for the Florida men’s track & field team that swept the indoor and outdoor 2012 NCAA Championship.

4 » The 2011-12 athletic season has come to an end for the Gators and though some highly ranked Florida teams missed out on opportunities at national titles (baseball, gymnastics, lacrosse, softball), UF also brought home a school record three NCAA Championships thanks to sterling efforts by men’s track & field (indoor and outdoor) and women’s tennis. The NCAA Indoor title for men’s track and field marked the third-straight for the program, and women’s tennis completed their quest to win back-to-back titles with their victory this season. The Gators also won eight individual national titles including six in track & field and one in gymnastics.

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Gator Bites for Monday, June 18

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» A rough senior season at the center position made many Florida Gators fans skeptical that Mike Pouncey could play the position as well as his twin brother. But after one year as the starting center for the Miami Dolphins, those questions no longer exist as Pouncey has proven that he can perform at a Pro Bowl level (though he did not make it to the game in 2011). Now he is focused on getting even better and told the Sun-Sentinel it all starts with eating better. “I can get away with [eating fast food], but I changed it up this year just trying to eat more leaner stuff,” he said. “I hired a chef, so it’s been working well for me.” Pouncey also feels the zone blocking scheme the Dolphins will be employing in 2012 and beyond will benefit him and the offense; he expects a breakout season for himself. “They say your second year is supposed to be your best year,” he said. “I’m hoping for big things. I’m coming out as hard as I can. I want to take on more of a leadership role this year.”

» Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan has been working with the United States U18 National Team over the last few weeks and began action in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship with his squad on Saturday. Donovan’s young squad is already 2-0 in international competition with a 105-42 victory over the Virgin Islands on Saturday and a 110-59 win over Mexico on Sunday. The U.S. will take on Brazil on Monday to conclude first-round action with the semifinals taking place Tuesday and the championship being held on Wednesday. Donovan’s squad needs to place in the top four teams at the end of the event in order to advance to the 2013 FIBA World Championship next summer. “I told them there are three things we want to accomplish. First and foremost, win a gold medal. Second, we’ve got a lot of guys on our team going into college and we want them to get maybe a bit more prepared than some other incoming freshmen for what they’re going to face in college. And third, we want to help them get better as players,” Donovan told the Sporting News before leaving for Brazil.

» Gators linebacker Neiron Ball, who missed the entire 2011 season after a blood vessel burst in his brain and he was diagnosed with a hereditary vascular condition, was officially cleared to participate in all football activities by team doctors on Friday. Ball had previously announced on March 1 that he had medical clearance from doctors to return to action, but head coach Will Muschamp cautioned in April and May that while he had returned to work out with the team that he was not a full participant and was still awaiting an additional clearance. Now that Ball is good to go, he will compete for immediate playing time at Buck linebacker, a position with a major depth issue now that junior Ronald Powell is out until at least mid-October with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

» Florida track & field coach Mike Holloway was awarded his first Coach of the Year honor for the outdoor season by the USTFCCCA on Thursday. He had previously won the award in consecutive years for the indoor season (2010-11). Holloway’s men’s team swept the 2012 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships this season.

Read six more Gator Bites…after the break!

Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Monday, June 18

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LaCaze wins appeal, heads to London Olympics

Nearly 48 hours of aggravation has resulted in a moment of pure joy for Florida Gators distance runner Genevieve LaCaze, who learned Saturday that she will allowed to compete for her home country of Australia in the 2012 London Olympics.

Though LaCaze achieved an Olympic ‘A’ Standard qualifying time of 9:41.15 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Wednesday, one that automatically qualifies her for the Olympics and should earn her a spot on the Australia National Team, she achieved the mark just over a day after an arbitrary cutoff date mandated by Athletics Australia despite the organization not being forced to submit nominations to the Australian Olympic Committee until June 22.

LaCaze lodged an appeal against her exclusion with AA, noting that the reason she achieved the time after the cutoff date was because she was competing in a collegiate system in America and did not have her next race scheduled until after June 11. She was initially told her chances of winning the appeal were not good (watch her interview).

However, LaCaze received a ton of support from Australians (Twitter account @LetLacazeGo had 572 followers as of Saturday morning, numerous of Twitter users tweeted the hashtag #LetLacazeGo and many others wrote to AA and stood outside the building in Australia to protest). AOC president John Coates even threw all of his support behind her inclusion on the team.

“I certainly urge Australian athletics to nominate her and use whatever discretion they’ve got,” Coates said on Friday, according to The Australian. “She’s clearly passed the A qualifying time and as far as I’m concerned she should be going to the Games. My understanding is that while there are cutoff times and dates, there is the opportunity for discretion to be used where someone is going to finish in the top eight or has the potential to do so in Rio [at the 2016 Olympics].”

However, AA’s representatives still felt that LaCaze did not deserve to a part of the team as it would be unfair to the other competitors despite the fact that she would not be taking anyone’s spot because Australia did not have another female runner who hit either the A or B qualifying times in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

In the end, as the AOC noted, “common sense prevailed,” and LaCaze won her appeal to have her qualifying time counted as AA extended their cutoff date to June 22, the day in which the official submissions must be made to the AOC.

“It’s a terrific decision because Genevieve is not only a great talent, who has done a great time for London, but she’s also someone for the future and we’re all about nurturing athletes and talent for the future,” AOC spokesman Mike Tancred told The Australian. “It’s not only the fact she’ll be running in London but we’re looking forward to her hopefully continuing on to Rio 2016.”

AA chief executive Dallas O’Brien said his organization took their cue from the AOC.

“The AOC certainly made it clear they were keen to extend [the deadline] out to the 22nd of June for everybody so we’re happy and it’s hopefully a win-win for everybody,” he said. “Obviously we’re really thrilled for Genevieve to be in the team. And, from Athletics Australia’s point of view, it looks like we’ll now have an additional A-qualifier which takes it up to 55 athletes for the Olympics, which is a great result for us.”

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FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Tebow, Beal, LaCaze

1 » After having ended each of his last two seasons standing on the sidelines and unable to play due to an injured ankle, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey made it his goal this season to ensure that it was completely healthy and as strong as possible heading into organized team activities. Pouncey had offseason ankle surgery and, after four weeks of OTAs, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that it feels as healthy as ever. “I’m doing great so far,” he said on Wednesday. “It feels awesome – the best it’s ever felt.” Pouncey also told the paper that he actually needed surgery following the 2010 season and made a mistake not getting it done. “I came back and wasn’t healthy. I played through it. At the end of the season last year it got too weak and I needed the surgery,” he said.

2 » Quarterback Tim Tebow has arguably been criticized more than perhaps any other player through his short tenure in the NFL though most of the shots fired at him have been about his on-field play. Former player now-ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi joined the barrage and jumped on Tebow’s back last week but not for the same reasons as others. Bruschi believes that Tebow is to blame for his own popularity and the hysteria surrounding him and a potential quarterback competition because he is never shy about talking to the media even when he’s not the starter on his own team. “Stop talking to the media so much,” Bruschi said on the network’s NFL 32 television program. “You need to disappear, okay, Tim Tebow? You’re not the starting quarterback, it’s Mark Sanchez’s team. I want my [team’s] voice to come from my head coach and my quarterback – my starting quarterback. That message has to be consistent. I don’t want all this competition brewing, and every time you speak and anytime you talk about competition or anything like that, you’re twisting things. I want one voice. One quarterback, not two.”

Asked to respond to these accusations, Tebow said this week, according to USA Today, that media appearances and interviews are completely out of his hands. He does what the New York Jets tell him to do – plain and simple. “To be honest, I just do what I’m told – and this [is the] day to talk to you [reporters], so I’m gonna talk to you,” he said on Wednesday after minicamp. “And to be honest, I just go about it however the Jets set it up – the rules that they want us to [follow], who they want us to talk to, who they don’t want us to talk to. And so I don’t get paid enough to make all those decisions. I just do what I’m told and try to do it as best as I can.” He continued, “I don’t know that I’m [outside the locker room] talking. I’m here talking to y’all because that’s what they want. Like I said, I just do what I’m told and try to make the most of it. So that’s something you’d figure that he would understand though. He’s a guy that I’ve always respected, and he always makes a lot of great points. I’m sure he had a great reason for it. But like I said, I’m just doing what I’m asked to do.”

3 » DraftExpress was on hand to capture a four-minute portion of Florida Gators freshman guard Bradley Beal‘s interview at the 2012 NBA Combine. Check it out:

4 » Florida senior distance runner Genevieve LaCaze dominated the 2012 SEC Outdoor Championships last month, becoming the first woman in league history to win the 3,000-meter steeplechase, 1,500-meter run and 5,000-meter run titles in the same event. Though she did not capture a national title in early June, LaCaze was hoping to compete for Australia in the 2012 London Olympics this summer. In order to do so she had to achieve an Olympic ‘A’ Standard qualifying time in the steeplechase, one that would automatically place her on the team. She passed that mark and ran a personal best 9:41.15 on Wednesday; unfortunately the Athletics Australia-mandated cutoff date for achieving the mark was on Monday and she is just a few days too late. According to Australia’s Herald Sun, LaCaze has a “glimmer of hope” left as AA’s nominations are “not due to be forwarded to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection until June 22.” LaCaze “intends to lodge an appeal against her team exclusion…even though she has been advised by officials that her chances don’t look good.” She told the paper, “Please let me run for Australia. I know it’s late, but it would be great if they could just give me a chance. They haven’t had to pay a dime during my whole career and I’m still young. I’m only going to get better. [...] It’s just so frustrating because I knew they were selecting on Monday. But I’m running in the American college system where, every time I run, I’ve got to run heats and finals and more than one event. I finally got to do a race that was purely designed to run fast and run once and run fresh, but it was two days too late.” Australia does not have a woman representing the country in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, meaning if they accept LaCaze she would not be taking another athlete’s spot.

If you wish to lobby on LaCaze’s behalf, click here, use the contact form and address a message to Dion Russell – Chairman of Selectors.

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Florida track & field suffers scare in the air

On the way back to Gainesville, FL after competing in the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships, which the men’s team won for the first time in program history on Saturday, Florida Gators track & field apparently had problems with their flight and underwent a rough landing in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Several members of the team – both student-athletes and support staff – tweeted about the incident shortly after landing safely. The pilot told his passengers that the windshield of the plane cracked at 37,000 feet and eventually shattered once it landed.

Florida was on a charter flight along with Florida State, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi State and was scheduled to land in order to drop the latter three programs off before eventually unloading in Tallahassee, FL and driving back to Gainesville.

Despite initial concerns that the plane had made a “crash” landing, a notion tweeted out by a Gators student-athlete, it appears that the rough landing was combination of there being a crack in the windshield and a big plane being forced to land on a small runway.

A new plane was scheduled to pick up the remaining parties for their trek back to Florida.

The above picture is courtesy of UF assistant director of strength and conditioning for Olympic sports Matt DeLancey, who posted it on Twitter early Sunday morning.

“[The windshield] cracked at 37,000 feet. Our pilots never seemed to panic. #Ballers!” he tweeted after sending out the picture.

OGGOA will update this story further when more information is made available.

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