FOUR BITS: Nixon’s mom at Fort Hood, Lowe & Morgan honored, Nelson struggling, new commits

1 » Florida Gators student-athletes get plenty of respect but not much is ever written about their parents who, in some cases, are truly amazing people in their own right. Sure, some are ex-football or basketball stars, but there are others like right tackle redshirt junior Marcus Gilbert’s father Jeff who is a Secret Service agent for President Barack Obama. One of these such parents is freshman left tackle Xavier Nixon’s mother Fotini, a United States soldier in training to acquire the rank of E-9. After learning her son was earning his first start in the Orange and Blue, Fotini cried. But it was Xavier who had reason to be emotional just a few weeks prior when he heard about the shootings at Fort Hood, where his mother is stationed as she trains in the Sergeant Major Academy. “Thank God she was safe,” he said.

2 » Redshirt sophomore Rebecca Lowe was named South Regional Female Athlete of the Year while head coach Todd Morgan was named South Regional Women’s Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association on Wednesday. Lowe, a standout for the No. 5 Gators, won the 2009 NCAA South Region Championship and 2009 Southeastern Conference individual title this season, leading the third-ranked Florida team to their third regional title in the program’s history. She was also named the 2009 SEC Cross Country Female Athlete of the Year last week. She will try to continue her hot streak as the Gators compete in the NCAA Championships on Monday, Nov. 23, in Terre Haute, IN.

News on Reggie Nelson, baseball, softball, swimming and diving after the jump…
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Nixon’s mom at Fort Hood, Lowe & Morgan honored, Nelson struggling, new commits

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Florida women’s teams soar and fall this weekend

Florida Gators soccer, cross country and women’s basketball were all in action this weekend coming off a Friday that saw softball, soccer and volleyball compete just one hour apart from another.

Just two days after defeating the Illinois State Redbirds in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Championship at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, OH, the Florida soccer team (16-6-2, 8-1-2 SEC) fell in a heartbreaking 1-0 overtime loss to the Oregon State Beavers (14-7-1, 4-5 Pac 10). Having reached the round of 16 in 2006, 2007 and 2008, the Gators’ loss was the earliest exit for the team in four years. UF had multiple opportunities to score throughout the first 90 minutes, but a ball would not see the net until a turnover in the defensive third resulted in a through ball from Oregon State’s Rachael Axon to Melinda Ingalls for the goal. The Beavers’ first overtime win of the season ended the Gators season and hopes of a title.

The No. 3 women’s cross country team, on the other hand, found success this weekend, winning the NCAA South Region Championship on Saturday morning. Earning an automatic bid to the National Championship on Nov. 23, redshirt sophomore Rebecca Lowe led the way by winning the individual title while the Gators placed five runners in the top 17 and earned six All-South Region honors. Florida won their third regional title in program history, their first in over a decade (1998).

Men’s basketball was not the only Florida team to take their shot at the Stetson Hatters on the hardwood. The women faced them first on Saturday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, earning an 85-63 win to open the season. Leading the way for the Gators were freshman forward Jennifer George and redshirt sophomore transfer guard Jordan Jones, who combined for 38 points in their first career games in the Orange and Blue. Florida shot 50 percent from the field, grabbed 14 steals and was 7-of-18 from beyond the arc. Jones also led the team in assists (5) and George helped out on the boards (5) while seniors F Sharielle Smith (9) and G Steffi Sorensen (6) led the way in rebounds. The Gators will face the No. 15/12 Florida State Seminoles on Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Gainesville, FL.

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Women’s cross country wins SEC Championship

No. 5 Florida Gators women’s cross country won the 2009 Southeastern Conference Championship meet on Saturday, the team’s first conference title since 1997. With all five scoring runners placing in the top 10, redshirt sophomore Rebecca Lowe took first place. Lowe’s victory (20:57.35) was the first time that Florida has had an individual champion since Becki Wells won back-to-back titles in 1995-96. It was also the ninth-best SEC Championship time in school history.

“This title means a lot to us,” Lowe said. “It’s been a long time coming for the Gators and we are proud to bring a championship back to Gainesville. It was also a step forward for us as we look toward Regionals and Nationals. It’s so amazing to win both the individual and team titles today.”

The Gators have advanced to the NCAA South Region Championships where a first- or second-place finish will earn them an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Florida will have a week off before heading to Tuscaloosa, AL, for the meet.

In other Gators news… Men’s cross country fell short of the SEC title, finishing in fourth place … No. 10/12 Florida volleyball (17-3, 11-2 SEC) notched another win Friday with a 3-0 shutout (25-20, 25-22, 33-31) of Alabama Crimson Tide (6-17, 4-9 SEC). Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy had her sixth triple-double of the season while sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel recorded a match-high 16 kills.

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