Florida Gators men’s track & field wins first NCAA Outdoor Championship in program history

It came down to the wire for Florida Gators men’s track and field at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, IA on Saturday but an outstanding finish in the event-ending 1,600-meter relay propelled the team to victory and the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championship. The national outdoor title is the first in program history for either the men’s or women’s team and gives the Gators a sweep of the men’s national titles in 2012 as UF also captured the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championship in March.

Down two points to LSU heading into the final event, Florida used a 2012 world-leading finish (3:00.02) by freshmen Dedrick Dukes and Hugh Graham, Jr., juniors Leonardo Seymore and junior Tony McQuay to win the individual national title in the 4×400-meter relay (also the first in program history) and clinch the championship.

UF (50 points) edged LSU (48) and Texas A&M (40) for the title and became the first team since Arkansas in 2003 to sweep the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships in the same season.

The Gators also brought home two other individual national titles on Friday as McQuay and junior Omar Craddock won their respective events. McQuay posted a time of 44.58 seconds in the men’s 400 meters to win the event for the first time in school history, and Craddock took home the men’s triple jump title with a distance of 16.92m/55-6.25 (+2.9). Both men also won the indoor title in their respective events to sweep them for the year, and Craddock’s victory marked the third-straight outdoor triple jump title for UF as well as the team’s sixth-straight overall triple jump title (indoor and outdoor 2010-12).

Neither senior sprinter Jeff Demps nor senior decathlete Gray Horn competed in their respective events this week. Demps, the reigning three-time 60-meter dash champion for indoor competition, missed the 100-meter dash as he continues to prepare for the U.S. Olympic Trials and 2012 London Olympics. Horn, one of the most accomplished student-athletes on the team, was still serving a suspension.

“We lost our best sprinter, we lost our best decathlete and our 4×100 didn’t qualify,” head coach Mike Holloway said after the victory. “A lot of people would have given up hope, but our group of guys didn’t. I sat them down after Regionals and I said ‘We are still the best team in the country, as long as you believe it,’ and our guys believed it.”

Holloway won the fourth national title of his career as the Gators men’s team has also captured three-straight NCAA Indoor Championships.

It is the first time in school history that Florida has won three national titles in the same season with the women’s tennis team winning their second-straight championship in May. Saturday’s national championship is the 29th in school history and 20th since athletic director Jeremy Foley took over the program.

Photo Credit: PrettySporty

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TWO BITS: Brewer wins, track & field falls

1 » Former Florida Gators guard/forward Corey Brewer celebrated mightily Sunday evening as his team, the Dallas Mavericks, captured the 2011 NBA Championship with a 4-2 series win over the Miami Heat. Out partying until all hours of the night, Brewer tweeted around 2 a.m.: “Yeah we are the champs its all said and done and yes to all the haters I can say it I’m a world champion.” He then brought it all together, reminiscing about his days at Florida. “We coming back to dallas with the chip,” he said, “be ready dallas let’s go mavs I love winning 2 national championships now a world.” Brewer, who was signed as a free agent after he was cut by the New York Knicks in a trade at the deadline, has not played a minute of basketball since May 17. He participated in six total playoff games, averaging 3:47 of action in those contests, after many thought he would be a key defender in Dallas’ postseason run.

2 » Faced with the opportunity to capture the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championship on Saturday, the men’s track and field team wound up finishing third in the event after blowing a chance to win the title in the final portion of the meet. Having already lost out on a 100-meter title when junior sprinter Jeff Demps cramped up and failed to qualify for the final heat, the Gators did not finish the 4×100-meter relay and only won a single individual title when junior Christian Taylor defeated fellow junior teammate Will Claye for the triple jump championship with a distance of 17.80m/58-4.75 (+2.3). It all came down to the 4×400-meter relay; if Florida finished in the top-four places in the event, the Gators would take home the title. Instead Florida came in sixth and never had a legitimate shot at winning the race, finishing with 53 points and handing the title over to Texas A&M (55), which stood just in front of Florida State (54).

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FOUR BITS: Demps, locker room, Sanders, bowl

1 » Though Florida Gators junior running back Jeff Demps has missed most of the regular season after injuring his foot against Tennessee, the school’s track and field coach believes he will be ready for the upcoming season. “In talking to Jeff, everything is status-quo,” head coach Mike Holloway told GatorZone‘s Scott Carter. “The biggest thing with Jeff is: Jeff has another football game to play. When that football game is over, we’ll evaluate where he is going with track. Honestly, they are going through a tough time right now. My main concern is keeping his spirits up so he can keep helping the football team.” Demps won the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championship in the men’s 60-meter dash and the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championship in the men’s 100-meter dash last season and is expected to be healthy for the team’s Jan. 15, 2011 debut.

2 » Contrary to reports that the Florida football team had damaged and trashed its locker room after the butt-whipping it was handed by the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, FSU’s equipment staff has denied the story. According to The Florida Times-Union’s Michael DiRocco, the Gators’ equipment staff spoke with their Seminoles counterparts and was assured that the locker room was fine and rumor was false. The Orlando Sentinel also spoke with Florida State, which said the rumors have been “completely blown out of proportion” by those online. “To make it clear [Florida] did not trash the locker room in any way,” school spokesman Rob Wilson told the paper.

3 » Florida redshirt senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders said via his Twitter account that he had surgery on Monday to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. Though Sanders did not miss any time with the injury, the surgery will likely keep him out for the bowl game but get him healthy enough for NFL workouts early next year.

4 » With bowl games set to be announced shortly, all indications are that the Gators will be accepting a bid for the 2010 Gator Bowl, held on New Year’s Day in Jacksonville, FL. Should Florida be offered and decide to participate in the game, they will face a Big Ten opponent which would likely be either Penn State, Iowa or Michigan.

Photo Credit: Jim Burgess

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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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