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: Harvin, Wambach, Martin, Lochte

1 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin on Saturday noted via his Twitter account that he would be having “minor surgery.” Most assumed the surgery Harvin mentioned was for his injured ankle, which sidelined him for the remainder of the season. However, Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN radio reported Sunday that Harvin actually went in for an emergency appendectomy. He is expected to be back to normal health in 2-3 weeks and will spend the entire offseason rehabbing his ankle and trying to get back on the field in the summer.

2 » The U.S. Women’s National Team concluded its 2012 campaign and its Fan Tribute tour across the United States with a 4-1 win over China in Boca Raton, FL on Saturday night. Former Florida Gators striker Abby Wambach scored twice in the friendly, increasing her international goal total to 152 and pulling within six of Mia Hamm, who holds the record with 158 career international goals. Florida head soccer coach Becky Burleigh was in attendance at the match, cheering on Wambach and former Gators defender Heather Mitts, who plans to retire. USA outscored China 10-1 in the three-game friendly series and concluded the 2012 campaign with a 28-1-3 record. Wambach ended 2012 with 27 goals (second-most in her career) and was the only member of the USWNT to start and play in all 32 games.

3 » Former Florida defensive end Chris Martin, who transferred in from USC but only spent his redshirt season at UF before forcibly transferring again to another school, spent the 2011 season playing for City College of San Francisco, the fourth institution he has attended since the beginning of his college career. The former five-star recruit, now a JUCO transfer, committed to the Kansas Jayhawks and head coach Charlie Weis on Saturday, according to JayhawkSlant.com ($). Martin is familiar with Weis from his days with the Gators and also has a relationship with strength and conditioning coach Scott Holsopple, a former Florida assistant who Weis hired when he left following the 2011 season.

4 » Former Florida swimmer Ryan Lochte, who set a pair of world record times at the 2012 FINA World Swimming Championships this past week, also concluded the event with six gold medals and eight total medals, setting a record at a short-course championship event. Lochte took gold and set world records in the 100 Meter and 200 Meter Individual Medley and finished first as part of four-man American teams in the 4×100 Meter Freestyle, 4×200 Meter Freestyle and 4×100 Meter Medley Relays. He also captured silver in the 200 Meter Backstroke and bronze in the 100 Meter Butterfly. Lochte was fully or partially responsible for eight of the 27 medals won by the United States at the event. Fellow former Gators swimmer Conor Dwyer joined Lochte with a gold in the 4x200M Freestyle Relay and picked up an individual bronze in the 200M Freestyle. Jemma Lowe, swimming for Great Britain, won a pair of bronze medals in the 100 Meter and 200 Meter Butterfly. Lochte was the only swimmer to set a world record at the event.

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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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Lochte strikes out on gold but adds silver, bronze

Earning five medals in the 2012 London Olympics is nothing to sneeze at though former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte (United States) has likely found a measure of disappointment in his performance at these games.

With an opportunity to add two more gold medals to his catalog, Lochte was caught from behind by two swimmers in the finals of the Men’s 200 Meter Backstroke and never sniffed first place when he went head-to-head against Michael Phelps in the Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley less than 30 minutes later.

Lochte racked up a bronze and silver in those respective events on Thursday, giving him a total of five medals (two golds, two silvers, one bronze) in London. He lost out on the 200M Backstroke gold by 0.53 seconds and the 200M I.M. gold by 0.63 seconds.

As of press time, Lochte is the most decorated Olympian in London with his five medals though Phelps, who will also swim the Men’s 100 Meter Butterfly and possibly the Men’s 4X100 Meter Medley Relay, has an opportunity to surpass him shortly.

Phelps continued building on his career record with his 20th Olympic medal on Thursday and could get that number up to 21 or 22 before he officially retires.

Lochte has now racked up 11 career Olympic medals including five golds, three silvers and three bronzes. He plans to return for the 2016 Rio Olympics and increase that total.

Joining Lochte in the pool on Thursday were two Gators and one future Florida swimmer competing in the Women’s 200 Meter Backstroke.

Junior Elizabeth Beisel (United States) swam the best semifinal race and advanced to the finals on Friday. Joining her is incoming freshman Sinead Russell (Canada), who finished eighth. Stephanie Proud (Great Britain) missed out on the finals by one place and just 0.28 seconds, finishing slightly behind Russell.

For recaps of their performances, a full schedule (including updated events for Friday), 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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Lochte and Dwyer lead USA to gold in 4×200 Meter Freestyle Relay, help Phelps set Olympic record

Tuesday was redemption day for Ryan Lochte and the United States relay team, which made up falling short on Sunday by dominating the Men’s 4×200 Meter Freestyle Relay and earning their third-straight Olympic gold medal in the event.

Lochte and fellow former Florida Gators swimmer Conor Dwyer swam the first two legs of the race, giving the Americans a significant and crucial two-second lead through the first 400 meters. Ricky Berens and Michael Phelps took it the rest of the way and cinched a 3.07-second victory for the United States.

For Lochte it was his ninth Olympic medal and third (second gold) of the 2012 London Olympics. He now has five golds, two silvers and two bronzes and has medaled in all but one Olympic final in which he has participated (Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle on Monday).

The gold for Dwyer is his first career Olympic medal; he swam in the event’s preliminary Tuesday morning and finished fifth in the Men’s 400 Meter Freestyle on Saturday.

The cushion provided by Lochte and Dwyer, which was expanded by Berens, gave Phelps a nearly impossible-to-lose four-second lead. He cruised all the way to the end, breaking the career Olympic medals record by capturing his 19th career medal (15 golds, two silver, two bronzes) spanning three Olympics.

Also in the field for the event was Sebastien Rousseau (South Africa), whose relay team finished in seventh place, 9.95 seconds behind the Americans.

No other Florida swimmers competed in medal events on Tuesday though Jemma Lowe (Great Britain) advanced to the finals of the Women’s 200 Meter Butterfly after finishing eighth overall (2:07.37, +1.47) in the semifinals. She will be the only former Gators swimmer competing for an individual medal on Wednesday.

Florida also had athletes in action on the soccer pitch and tennis court on Tuesday.

For recaps of their performances, a full schedule (including updated events for Wednesday), 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.

Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

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Lochte, Spofforth fall short of medals on Monday

The Florida Gators came away without a notable victory on Monday for the first time in three days of action in the 2012 London Olympics, neither medaling nor having an athlete advance in their respective event.

Swimmers Ryan Lochte (United States) and Gemma Spofforth (Great Britain) both had the opportunity to medal on Monday though each fell short in their respective race.

For Lochte it was the second tough blow he has been dealt in as many days. He finished fourth in the Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle with a time of 1:45.04, 1.90 seconds behind the gold medal winner but just 0.11 seconds out of the silver medal (which wound up being a two-way tie). It is the first time in Lochte’s career that he did not win a medal in an Olympic event in which he participated.

On Sunday he was caught from behind in the final leg of the Men’s 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay by France’s anchor Yannick Agnel; the Americans, which were favored to win the event, finished 0.45 seconds behind the French and earned the silver medal.

Angel also took individual gold from Lochte in the 200M Freestyle on Monday.

Spofforth competed in the finals of the Women’s 100 Meter Backstroke and finished fifth in 59.20 seconds, 0.87 seconds out of the top spot. Though she did not medal, her world record time of 58.12 seconds (which she set in 2009) remained intact.

Be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics for a full schedule, live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count.

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Lochte passed in final leg, United States takes silver in 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay

One day after taking home his, the Florida Gators’ and the United States’ first gold medal of the 2012 London Olympics, Ryan Lochte was back in the pool as the anchor of the Men’s 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay team trying to earn a second. Unfortunately for Gators fans and the Americans, Lochte was caught from behind in the final 50 meters of the race and the United States lost the gold medal to France.

The Americans (3:10.38) took home silver in the event, finishing the relay 0.45 seconds behind the French) partially due to Lochte’s final 100 meters. He swam his leg in 47.74 seconds, the second-slowest on his team and more than a half-second behind Michael Phelps, who swam the second leg of the race.

Lochte, who competed hours earlier in the semifinals of the Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle and qualified for the finals on Monday with a fifth-place finish (1:46.31, +0.70), did not swim in the preliminaries of the relay in the morning session but was added to the team for the afternoon’s final. Phelps did not swim at all in the morning session.

The silver is the second of Lochte’s Olympic career as well as his eighth overall medal in the Games. He has also won four gold and two bronze medals.

No other Florida swimmers competed in medal events on Sunday though Gemma Spofforth (Great Britain) qualified for the finals of the Women’s 100 Meter Backstroke after finishing sixth overall in the semifinals (59.70, +0.58). She will join Lochte in competing for an individual medal on Monday.

Be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics for a full schedule, live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count.

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