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Zan Joseph ran the anchor leg of the NCAA East Regional title winning 4x100m relay.

Saturday May 26, 2007Gators Finish Third After 4x100m Relay Victory at NCAA East Regional Championships

GAINESVILLE, Fla.

Zan Joseph ran the anchor leg of the NCAA East Regional title winning 4x100m relay.

The Gators’ 4x100m relay team of Abigail David (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago), Natalie Knight (Snellville, Ga.), Lakecia Ealey (Albany, Ga.) and Zan Joseph (Boynton Beach, Fla.) ran the fifth-fastest time in school history to win the 4x100m and lead the University of Florida women’s track team to a third-place finish on the final day of the competition at the NCAA East Regional Championships at James G. Pressly Stadium at Percy Beard Track on Saturday.

 

The Gators finished the NCAA East Regional Championships in third by scoring 49 points. Virginia Tech won the meet on the women’s side with 89 points and South Carolina took second with 62 points. Florida’s third-place finish was the team’s best since 2004 when the Gators took first and was three positions better than last year, when they tied for sixth. 

 

Also advancing to the national meet for the Gators on Saturday were junior Lindsay Sundell (Fort Salonga, N.Y.) in the 3,000m steeplechase, freshman Lori Bowen (Tallahassee, Fla.) in the pole vault, Ealey in the 100m and Knight in the 200m. A total of eight Gators automatically advanced to compete in the NCAA Championships over the two days of the East Regional.

 

“The whole program took a big step forward today,” Florida women’s interim head coach Steve Lemke said. “The whole team has came closer together as the season has progressed. They all share a common goal and a common purpose and that came through today and we hope it continues at the NCAA meet.”

 

“It was good to have been able to compete in the regional meet here in Gainesville,” Lemke added. “We said all year we wanted to have a Gator in every event at this meet and we did that in nearly every event. Our field athletes did what they were supposed to do this weekend. Lori posted a PR in the pole vault to make the national meet today on top of Mariam and Evelien yesterday. The track events made a big jump yesterday and then made another big jump again today. They just keep getting better and better. We are really excited about going to compete at nationals.”

 

The 4x100m relay crossed the finish line in 44.03, the sixth-fastest time in school history and 12th in the nation this season, to win the event by 0.30 seconds. It was the first-ever NCAA East Regional relay title for the Gators and it came over the No. 2 ranked team in the nation, South Carolina, which took third. The victory also marks the first time that a team other than South Carolina or Miami has won the 4x100m relay and it scored 10 points toward the team standings for UF. The Gators will be vying to become UF’s first 4x100m relay team to earn All-America honors since 2005 when they compete at the national meet.

 

“We didn’t really expect this,” Joseph said. “But we’ve been practicing hard. This means a lot because we were the underdogs and we’ve been through a lot this season. We have a lot of extra motivation, and we’re dedicating this to Coach (Tom) Jones, so I’m glad we got it done. We are also very appreciative of Coach (Mike) Holloway.”

 

Sundell clocked a school-record and personal-best 10:07.25 in the 3,000m steeplechase to finish fourth and advance to the NCAA Championships. Sundell broke the school record, which she already held, by over 13 seconds. Sundell finished ahead of the Southeastern Conference champion, Georgia’s Sarah Madebach, who took fifth. Liz Wort of Duke won the event in an NCAA East Regional record 9:52:34. Sundell scored five points for UF with the finish and will be vying to become Florida’s first All-American in the steeplechase when she competes at the national meet.

 

“Lindsay had a huge PR,” Lemke added. “She finished ahead of the SEC Champion as well. She was disappointed from not doing well at this meet last year after having a good season. She made up for it today.”

 

In the pole vault, Bowen posted the fifth-best mark school history (3.96m/12-11.75) to finish fourth advance to the NCAA Championship meet. The mark was a PR for Bowen by an inch and three-quarters and it scored five points for the Gators in the team standings. Bowen will look to become just the second Gator to earn All-America status in the outdoor pole vault when she competes at nationals.

 

Ealey also earned an automatic qualification to the by finishing the 100m in second with a time of 11.49, just 0.07 seconds off of the winning mark. She recorded the mark despite running into a wind of 2.6 meters per second to score eight points. Ealey will attempt to become Florida’s first 100m All-American since Kisha Jett in 1998.

 

In the 200m, Knight took third by crossing the finish line in 23.10 to score six points. South Carolina’s Natasha Hastings won the event by running an East Regional record 22.62. Knight advances to the NCAA Championships and will look to earn All-America honors in the 200m for the second time in her career, having previous done so in 2005.

 

The Gators’ 4x400m relay team of junior Dominique McLeggan (Weston, Fla.), Joseph, David and junior Lorain McKenzie (Clarendon, Jamaica) finished in seventh-place with a time of 3:38.58 to score two points.

 

Garnering eighth-place finishes and scoring a point each for the Gators were McKenzie in the 800m and sophomore Shawneise Williams (Archer, Fla.) in the hammer throw. McKenzie clocked 2:10.43 in 800m, while Williams tossed the hammer 54.75m/179-7, the fourth-best mark of her career. McKenzie did not automatically advance to the national meet, but still has a chance to be an at-large selection. She entered this weekend with the nation’s 15th-fastest 800m time (2:05.68).

 

In addition to the automatic qualifiers, the remainder of the NCAA Championship filed will be filled in based off of national performance lists and announced by the NCAA on Tuesday, May 29, at 3 p.m. ET on www.ncaasports.com. The national meet will be held in Sacramento, Calif., on June 6-9 at Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex and hosted by the Sacramento State and the Sacramento Sports Commission.

 

Women’s Team Scoring (through 19 events):

1. Virginia Tech 89; 2. South Carolina 62; 3. FLORIDA 49; 4. Penn State 45; 5. Florida State 36; 6. Miami 35; 7. Georgia 32; 7. Cornell 32; 9. Charlotte 27; 10. Duke 26; 11. North Carolina; 12. Georgia Tech 23; 13. Georgetown 18; 14. George Mason 15; 15. Connecticut 13; 16. Buffalo-SUNY 12; 16. Georgia Southern 12; 16. Wake Forest 12; 19. Villanova 10; 19.  Hampton 10; 21. Clemson 9; 22. Florida International 8; 22. Northeastern 8; 22. Davidson 8; 22. Monmouth 8; 22. Lafayette 8; 22. UNC-Wilmington 8; 22. N.C. State 8; 29. North Carolina A&T 7; 29. Jacksonville 7; 31. Pennsylvania 6; 31. Robert Morris 6; 33. Providence 5; 33. Boston College 5; 33. Pittsburgh 5; 33. East Carolina 5; 33. Richmond 5; 38. Seton Hall 4; 38. Yale 4; 40. Syracuse 3.50; 40. Towson 3.50; 42. Virginia 3; 42. Campbell 3; 42. Harvard 3; 42. Bucknell 3; 46. Albany 2; 46. Rider 2; 46. New Hampshire 2; 46. West Virginia 2; 50. Iona 1; 50. Princeton 1; 50. Manhattan 1; 50. Columbia 1; 50. Radford 1; 50. Charleston Southern 1; 56. Elon 0.50; 56. Navy 0.50.

 

Florida’s Women NCAA East Regional Champions: (4 athletes, 1 title):

Abigail David, Natalie Knight, Lakecia Ealey, Zan Joseph – 4x100m

 

Florida’s Women Automatic NCAA Championships Qualifiers (8 athletes, 6 events, 1 relay):

Lakecia Ealey – 100m

Natalie Knight – 200m

Lindsay Sundell – 3,000m Steeplechase

Lori Bowen – Pole Vault

Mariam Kevkhishvili – Shot Put

Evelien Dekkers – Javelin

Abigail David, Natalie Knight, Lakeica Ealey, Zan Joseph – 4x100m

 

-UF-

 

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