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Photo Credit: Jon Elits

Saturday January 28, 2012Horn, Mesic, Obinwa Earn NCAA Automatic Qualifying Marks on Final Day of Texas A&M Challenge

College Station, Texas

Photo Credit: Jon Elits

Saturday was a day of falling records and personal bests as eight Gators and the women’s 4x400 meter relay earned victories on the final day of the Texas A&M Challenge presented by Mondo America.


Senior multi-event athlete Gray Horn (Waynesfield, Ohio) picked up where he left off on Friday evening, setting a new Florida record in the heptathlon of 5,971 points. Horn’s mark etches his name in the NCAA record books as the sixth-best performer in collegiate history.


The Ohio native started the morning off with a first place finish in the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 8.09, nearly a personal best. The senior then took top-three finishes in the pole vault (3rd – 4.66m/15-3.50) and the 1,000m (2nd – 2:44.09) to tally 5,971 points over the course of the meet. His total is the best in the NCAA this season and an NCAA automatic qualifying mark.


“The biggest thing I saw from Gray today was that he really took his time and was patient,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “Didn’t go as well as he wanted to in the pole vault and we know he can run better in the 1,000m, so the biggest thing for us is that we got the automatic qualifier, we’ll go back to Gainesville and get to training. We’re proud of him for breaking the school record again. Every time he steps on the track, there’s something special. We're all very proud of Gray.”


For the second time in three weeks, senior thrower Kemal Mesic (Sarajevo, Bosnia) set a new Florida record in the shot put, registering an NCAA automatic qualifying throw of 20.31m/66-7.75 on Saturday afternoon. Mesic’s mark stands as the best mark in the NCAA this season and a new Gilliam Indoor Track record.


“Kemal’s in the zone,” Holloway said. “He and Coach Lemke have really connected and they understand each other. Kemal understands what Coach Lemke wants and he’s really developed into a fine thrower. What you’re seeing is a byproduct of that but we think there’s still more there.”


Sophomore Sean Obinwa (Tampa, Fla.) hit an NCAA automatic qualifying time in the 800 meters on Saturday afternoon, sprinting his way to the second fastest time in Florida history with a personal best 1:47.22, finishing second on the afternoon.


“The biggest thing with Sean is that he believes in himself,” Holloway said. “We have a very special relationship. He trusts and believes in me; I trust and believe in him. At the end of the day, he goes to the line and he knows that he’s prepared.”


Sophomore Ebony Eutsey (Miami, Fla.) won the women’s 400 meters with a personal best 53.38, good for ninth all-time in Florida history. Junior Lanie Whittaker (Miami, Fla.) finished right behind Eutsey with a time of 54.04, her best 400 meters performance in over two years.


The Gators swept the high jump on Saturday afternoon, as senior Dwight Barbiasz (Milford, N.H.) and freshman Taylor Burke (Medina, Ohio) claimed the high jump titles with jumps of 2.16m/7-1 and 1.74m/5-8.50, respectively.


The Florida women’s 4x400 meter relay won the Texas A&M Challenge with a time of 3:36.72. The relay team, comprised of Alishea Usery (St. Louis, Mo.), Lanie Whittaker (Miami, Fla.), Ugonna Ndu (Newark, N.J.) and Ebony Eutsey (Miami, Fla.), earned their second title of 2012.


The Gators also swept the weight throw titles on Saturday afternoon, as senior thrower Fidela James (Jacksonville, Fla.) won the women’s weight throw with a mark of 19.49m/63-11.50, earning the senior her second weight throw title of 2012. Junior thrower Jeremy Postin (Auburndale, Fla.) teamed up with James for the sweep of the Texas A&M Challenge weight throw titles, earning his victory with a throw of 20.04m/65-9.


Junior jumper Omar Craddock (Killeen, Texas) notched his first victory of 2012, taking the men’s long jump title with a personal best leap of 7.49m/24-7. Craddock’s previous personal best was outdoors, leaping to a 7.03m/23-0.75 at the Tom Jones Memorial in 2010.


Junior hurdler Ugonna Ndu (Newark, N.J.) set a new personal best in the 60 meter hurdles, finishing second with a time of 8.46, tying the second all-time mark at Florida.


Sophomore distance runner Cory McGee (Pass Christian, Miss.) recorded the best 3,000 meter time of her collegiate career, running to a second place finish with a time of 9:23.30, nearly 13 seconds better than her previous career record. McGee’s performance is seventh all-time in Florida history. McGee’s teammates, Callie Cooper (St. Johns, Fla.) and Florence Ngetich (Kenya/El Paso [Texas] CC), finished 3-4 right behind her, racing to 9:27.96 and 9:32.81 personal best times, respectively.


Sophomore Shelby Hayes (Winter Park, Fla.) had an unbelievable performance in the women’s mile, racing her way to a personal best 4:43.00, over 13 seconds faster than her previous career record. Hayes took fourth in the race, leading the way for the Gators with the sixth-best time in Florida history. Florida also saw personal bests in the mile from Genevieve LaCaze (Queensland, Australia), who finished fifth overall at 4:46.89, and Sarah Davis (Jacksonville, Fla.), who won her heat with a time of 4:55.13.


“Shelby’s a special one,” Holloway noted. “She was one of the top high school models in the country. She had a bit of a rough year last year and she and I sat down and had a long talk back in October and we promised each other great effort. What you saw today was a lot of hard work from Shelby’s end.”


On the women’s side, the SEC won the Texas A&M Challenge with 216 points. The Big 12 came in second with 214 points and the Pac 12 ranked third with 178 points. On the men’s side, the Big 12 won with 277.75 points overall. The Pac 12 came in second with 227.25 points and the SEC ranked third with 164.50 points. Florida’s women scored 149 points, accounting for 69 percent of the SEC’s score. The Gator men scored 95 points, coming up with 58 percent of the SEC’s points on the weekend.


The Gators, coming off of three consecutive weekends of competition, won’t be resting on their laurels, as Florida travels to Blacksburg, Va. for the Virginia Tech Elite meet on Friday and Saturday, February 3-4.


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Men’s Heptathlon (AUTO: 5,750)

1.     Gray Horn, 5,971


Men’s Heptathlon 60m Hurdles (AUTO: 7.70)

1.     Gray Horn, 8.09


Men’s Heptathlon Pole Vault (AUTO: 5.50m/18-0.50)

3.     Gray Horn, 4.66m/15-3.50


Men’s Heptathlon 1,000m (Not an NCAA Championship Event)

2.     Gray Horn, 2:44.09




Men’s Long Jump (AUTO: 8.00m/26-3)

1.     Omar Craddock, 7.49m/24-7


Men’s Weight Throw (AUTO: 21.50m/70-6)

1.     Jeremy Postin, 20.04m/65-9

9.     David Levin, 16.43/53-11


Women’s Shot Put (AUTO: 17.20m/56-5.25)

5.     Keely Medeiros, 14.81m/48-7.25

7.     Fidela James, 14.68m/48-2


Women’s High Jump – 3 p.m. ET (AUTO: 1.85m/6-0.75)

1.     Taylor Burke, 5-8.50

3.     Alexis Munoz, 5-6.50


Men’s High Jump – (AUTO: 2.24m/7-4.25)

1.     Dwight Barbiasz, 2.16m/7-1

4.     Frankie Hammond, 2.12m/6-11.50


Women’s Weight Throw (AUTO: 21.00m/68-10)

1.     Fidela James, 19.49m/63-11.50

8.     Jayla Bostic, 16.60m/54-5.50


Men’s Shot Put (AUTO: 19.35m/63-6)

1.     Kemal Mesic, 20.31m/66-7.75


Women’s Long Jump (AUTO: 6.45m/21-2)

4.     Ciarra Brewer, 5.78m/18-11.75

6.     Lorraine Graham, 5.62m/18-5.25


Men’s Triple Jump (AUTO: 16.30m/53-5.75)

4.     Marquis Dendy, 15.23m/49-11.75




Women’s 60m Hurdles Prelims (AUTO: 8.10)

3.     Ugonna Ndu, 8.67q

8.     Paige Morton, 8.93q

9.     Ashley Favors, 8.94

12. Monique Harris, 9.11


Men’s 60m Hurdles Prelims (AUTO: 7.70)

5.     William Wynne, 8.13q


Women’s 60m Prelims (AUTO: 7.23)

3.     Darshay Davis, 7.51q

9.     Bria Goodson, 7.69


Women’s 3,000m (AUTO: 9:10.00)

2.     Cory McGee, 9:23.30

3.     Callie Cooper, 9:27.96

4.     Florence Ngetich, 9:32.81


Men’s 3,000m (AUTO: 7:52.30)

11. Jimmy Clark, 8:17.07

13. Josh Izewski, 8:19.40

15. Matt Mizereck, 8:23.15


Women’s 600y (Not an NCAA Championship Event)

2.     Ashley Usery, 1:23.76


Women’s 60m Hurdles Finals (AUTO: 8.10)

2.     Ugonna Ndu, 8.46

6.     Paige Morton, 8.91


Men’s 60m Hurdles Finals (AUTO: 7.70)

3.     William Wynne, 7.97


Women’s 400m (AUTO: 52.60)

1.     Ebony Eutsey, 53.38

2.     Lanie Whittaker, 54.04


Men’s 400m (AUTO: 46.00)

2.     Hugh Graham, Jr., 47.46


Women’s 60m Finals (AUTO: 7.23)

2.     Darshay Davis, 7.48


Men’s 800m (AUTO: 1:47.30)

2.     Sean Obinwa, 1:47.22

8.     Daniel Wehunt, 1:52.11

18. Luc Lawrence, 1:57.56


Women’s 200m (AUTO: 23.12)

6.     Darshay Davis, 24.01

10. Bria Goodson, 24.25


Men’s 200m (AUTO: 20.73)

5.     Leonardo Seymore, 21.37


Women’s Mile (AUTO: 4:37.00)

4.     Shelby Hayes, 4:43.00

5.     Genevieve LaCaze, 4:46.89

8.     Sarah Davis, 4:55.13

9.     Mandy Perkins, 4:56.20

13. Stephanie Strasser, 5:02.88


Men’s Mile (AUTO: 3:57.90)

10. John Mitchell, 4:18.02

12. Harsha Torke, 4:19.17

13. Tyler Cardillo, 4:20.78


Women’s 4x400m Relay (AUTO: 3:34.00)

1.     Florida (Al. Usery, L. Whittaker, U. Ndu, E. Eutsey), 3.36.72


Men’s 4x400m Relay (AUTO: 3:06.50)

--     Florida (H. Graham, T. McQuay, J. Toppin, S. Obinwa), DNF

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