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: 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 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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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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