FOUR BITS: track, tennis, lacrosse, softball

By Adam Silverstein
May 12, 2013

1 » Neither the top-ranked men nor the third-ranked women were able to bring home a team title in the 2013 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championship for the Florida Gators, but the track & field program did conclude the four-day event with five individual titles. Sophomore Kyle Strawn started things off on Thursday by winning the SEC title in the men’s hammer throw; his championship toss went 66.90m/219-6 and also marked a personal best. Florida added a second individual SEC crown on Friday when redshirt freshman Jimmy Clark gutted out a tough 10,000 meters in 29:44.54 to win the Gators’ first title in the event since 1987. Though Florida went title-less on Saturday, the Gators added three on Sunday to close the event. UF swept the triple jump with senior Omar Craddock (16.46m/54-0) and sophomore Ciarra Brewer (13.85m/45-5.25) defending their 2012 titles by winning the men’s and women’s championships, respectively. Freshman Marija Vucenovic also got in on the fun by winning the women’s javelin with a throw of 51.30m/168-4.

The Florida men (123.00) finished second to Arkansas (152.50), while the UF women (106.00) placed fourth. The Gators were hoping to win the athletic program’s ninth SEC team title of the season but must instead settle for a school record-tying eight as the league’s 2012-13 season has officially come to a close.

2 » No. 1 Florida women’s tennis began competing in the 2013 NCAA Tournament over the weekend and swept both of its opponents, defeating the Marist Red Foxes and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 4-0 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The Gators ran through the Red Foxes without dropping a single game, winning both doubles matches 8-0 and all three singles contests 6-0, 6-0. Georgia Tech was a tougher out for Florida but still went down rather easily as UF won the doubles point with 8-6 and 8-2 victories and took singles in short order. No. 1 senior Lauren Embree beat No. 98 Elizabeth Kilborn 6-0, 6-0 in her last home match, and No. 116 senior Caroline Hitimana led 6-1, 3-3 in her match but did not finish; both players were involved in victories that led to the doubles point. Embree received a standing ovation after he victory; she and Hitimana leave UF never having lost a team match (55-0) at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. Action continues for Florida on Friday when it takes on Duke in a round of 16 match in Urbania, IL.

Read two more Gators news BITS (with an extra)…after the break!

3 » Five-seed Gators lacrosse also took care of business in its NCAA Tournament, using a first-round bye followed by a 16-5 win over the Denver Pioneers on Sunday to advance to the Elite Eight of the event for the third-straight season. UF, with revenge on its mind, will go head-to-head with the four-seed Syracuse Orange on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Syracuse, NY. Syracuse came back from seven goals down in the second half to force overtime in the 2012 Final Four and eventually ousted Florida on a controversial game-ending score in sudden death. The Orange beat the Gators twice in overtime in 2012, but Florida took down Syracuse 14-10 back on March 2 in South Florida.

4 » Gators softball, which finished the regular season 52-7 with a sweep of the SEC titles, was awarded the No. 2 overall seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament on Sunday, entering the event as a top-five team for the sixth consecutive season. As one of the top seeds, Florida will host opening round action and do so in the double-elimination Gainesville Regional from May 17-19. UF will open the regional against Hampton (33-24) on Friday at 6 p.m. and is also hosting USF (43-14) and Georgia Southern (32-38), which go head-to-head in the first game of the day at 3:30 p.m.

Extra BIT » An unranked Pioneers team came into Gainesville, FL on Friday and took down 15-seed Gators men’s tennis 4-3 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Florida won the doubles point and actually looked strong with a 3-1 lead but lost the final three singles matches (two in tiebreakers) to get bounced out of the postseason.

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