Saturday March 14, 2009Track and Field Men Finish Second in the Nation
College Station, TX
The University of Florida men’s track and field team posted its highest indoor team finish since 2005, placing second in the nation at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships, and Gators Mariam Kevkhishvili (Tbilisi, Georgia) and Christian Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) each claimed NCAA individual titles on Saturday at Gilliam Indoor Track and Field Stadium on the campus of Texas A&M University.
Florida’s men finished as the NCAA runners-up with 36 total team points, as Oregon claimed the NCAA Championship with 54 total points. The Gators beat out intra-state rival Florida State (32 points) and Southeastern Conference foe LSU (29) for their highest finish since also placing second indoors in 2005. The Florida women tied for 12th place overall, using several impressive individual performances to score 14 total team points. Tennessee claimed the women’s NCAA Indoor Title with 42 total points, while host Texas A&M was second with 37 points.
“I thought our guys did an unbelievable job today,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “They came in and performed extremely well. With everything we’ve been through this year, they just kept getting better and better as the season went along. We weren’t our best at the conference meet, but we came through today and beat a lot of really good teams. I’m really proud of our effort on the men’s side and I’m proud of our women finishing 12th today. They have done a great job this season battling through some injuries and adversity, but they kept improving and did a really, really good job this weekend. Our goal is to always be a top-tier program and to make the Gator Nation proud, and I hope we did that today.”
Both Florida programs finished in the top 12 nationally for the second consecutive year and the men’s second-place finish ties for the best NCAA indoor finish in Holloway’s tenure as head coach. In addition to the success of both the men’s and women’s teams, the Gators captured two NCAA individual titles in the same year for the first time since the 2005 campaign.
Kevkhishvili, the 2009 USTFCCCA South Region Women’s Field Athlete of the Year, became just the fourth woman in NCAA history to win back-to-back indoor shot put titles and the first since Laura Gerraughty of North Carolina did so in 2003 and 2004. After becoming the first person in school history last season to win the NCAA women’s indoor shot put title, Kevkhishvili followed that up with a second consecutive national shot put championship on Saturday with a toss of 58-6.50/17.84m that set a new Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium Record.
Kevkhishvili battled Arizona State’s Sarah Stevens the entire way, falling behind after the first round of the finals before rebounding with throws of 58-6/17.83m and 58-6.50/17.84m on her final two tosses to claim the championship in dramatic fashion. Kevkhishvili completed the 2009 indoor season undefeated with a perfect 6-for-6 mark, winning each of the competitions in which she competed, including the SEC Championship and the NCAA Championship.
“Mariam is just Mariam,” Holloway said. “She comes to compete and give her best at every meet. I think to understand Mariam, you really have to understand the relationship she has with her coach, Steve Lemke. They really trust and believe in one another and Mariam continues to get better and better every time she goes out and competes.”
Taylor, the 2009 USTFCCCA South Region Men’s Field Athlete of the Year, captured the first indoor NCAA men’s triple jump championship in school history on Saturday with a school-record leap of 55-8.50/16.98m. He became the first Florida male freshman to win an NCAA Indoor Championship since Rickey Harris captured the 400-meter title in 2001.
Taylor, who won the 2009 SEC Indoor Triple Jump Championship earlier this season, shattered his previous personal best of 52-10.25/16.11m achieved at the SEC Indoor Championships on March 1. He broke a more than 22-year-old school record in the event, besting Shawn Akridge’s record of 53-4/16.26m, set during the 1987 season. He also set a new facility record in the event.
“Christian Taylor and his coach Brian O’Neal have done a great job this season,” Holloway said. “They’ve only been working together for about seven weeks, but to see how far Christian has come since the last time he competed in this building at the SEC/Big 12 Showdown, when he jumped 49 feet, is just remarkable. We’ve known he had the talent, but he has really put in the commitment and the time to getting better, and he really trusts and believes in his coach.”
In total, Florida athletes collected 14-All America honors on the weekend.
The 2009 SEC Champion men’s 4x400-meter relay team, seeded in the fastest of the meet’s three heats, finished third in a time of 3:07.51. The relay squad consisted of Taylor, freshman William Wynne (Marietta, Ga.), senior R.J. Anderson (Big Pine Key, Fla.) and junior Calvin Smith (Lutz, Fla.).
Sophomore sprinter Terrell Wilks (New Haven, Conn.), who in Friday’s preliminaries set the school record in the 60-meter dash, finished third in Saturday’s final in a time of 6.61. It is his third consecutive race under 6.62, which was the previous school record heading into this season.
In addition to running on the Gators’ third-place 4x400m relay team, Smith earned All-America honors in the men’s 400-meter dash, placing sixth in a time of 46.59.
Senior hurdler Dennis Martin (Anderson, S.C.) finished seventh in the men’s 60-meter hurdles in a time of 7.78, while senior middle-distance runner Carlos Phillips (Winter Park, Fla.) was seventh in the finals of the men’s 800-meter run in a time of 1:50.34.
Junior distance runner Charlotte Browning (West Sussex, England), competing in her first NCAA Championship meet, was eighth in the women’s mile in a time of 4:40.25.
Freshman heptathlete Gray Horn (Wapakoneta, Ohio) was in sixth place in the heptathlon after five events after tying the school record for an opening-day score, but failed to clear a height on the pole vault and finished the event in 14th place with a total score of 4,769.
begin their 2009 outdoor season on March 21 when they travel to Orlando, Fla.,
to compete in the UCF Black and Gold Challenge hosted by the University of
The University of Florida is home of the 2009 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships. For all of the latest information on Gator Track and Field, log on to www.GatorZone.com.
NCAA Indoor Championships – March 13-14, 2009 (College Station, Texas)
SATURDAY, MARCH 14, 2009
Men’s Heptathlon – 1 p.m. EST (AUTO: 5,650; PROV: 5,300)
14. Gray Horn – 4,769
Men’s Heptathlon 60m Hurdles – 1 p.m. EST (AUTO: 7.70; PROV: 7.91)
10. Gray Horn – 8.33 (900 points)
Men’s Heptathlon Pole Vault – 1:45 p.m. EST (AUTO: 5.50; PROV: 5.20)
--. Gray Horn – NH (0 points)
Men’s Heptathlon 1,000m Run – 4:15 p.m. EST (Not an NCAA Event)
13. Gray Horn – 2:53.22 (732 points)
Women’s Triple Jump – 4:30 p.m. EST (AUTO: 13.30; PROV: 12.65)
9. Shara Proctor – 42-9.75/13.05m
Women’s Shot Put – 4:45 p.m. EST (AUTO: 16.90; PROV: 15.20)
1. Mariam Kevkhishvili – 58-6.50/17.84m
13. Keely Medeiros – 50-6.25/15.40m
Men’s Triple Jump – 5:30 p.m. EST (AUTO: 16.10; PROV: 15.40)
1. Christian Taylor – 55-8.50/16.98m
Women’s Mile Finals – 6 p.m. EST (AUTO: 4:38.00; PROV: 4:48.50)
8. Charlotte Browning – 4:40.25
Men’s 60m Hurdles Finals – 6:30 p.m. EST (AUTO: 7.70; PROV: 7.91)
7. Dennis Martin – 7.88
Men’s 400m Finals – 6:50 p.m. EST (AUTO: 46.15; PROV: 47.25)
6. Calvin Smith – 46.59
Men’s 60m Finals – 7:10 p.m. EST (AUTO: 6.63; PROV: 6.74)
3. Terrell Wilks – 6.61
Men’s 800m Finals – 7:30 p.m. EST (AUTO: 1:48.00; PROV: 1:50.50)
7. Carlos Phillips – 1:50.34
Men’s 4x400m Relay – 8:25 p.m. EST (AUTO: 3:33.00; PROV: 3:40.00)
3. Florida – 3:07.51
-Christian Taylor, William Wynne, R.J. Anderson, Calvin Smith
MEN’S FINAL TEAM SCORES
1. Oregon – 54
2. Florida – 36
3. Florida State – 32
4. LSU – 29
T5. Baylor – 25
T5. Nebraska – 25
T5. Arizona State – 35
8. Arkansas – 24
9. Texas A&M – 23
10. Texas – 22.50
WOMEN’S FINAL TEAM SCORES
1. Tennessee – 42
2. Texas A&M – 37
3. BYU – 33
4. Texas – 31
5. Arizona State – 30
6. LSU – 28
7. Penn State – 24
8. Florida State – 23
T9. Texas Tech – 21
T9. Oregon – 21
T12. Florida - 14
FLORIDA ALL-AMERICANS/TOP-EIGHT FINISHERS (ENTIRE MEET)
END OF REPORT