Saturday February 25, 2012Marquee Day for Marquis Dendy as Gator Men Lead the Way at SEC Indoor Championships
Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Treworgy
Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Treworgy
The Florida men’s and women’s track and field teams had a stellar second day on Saturday at the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships at the University of Kentucky. The No. 2-ranked Gator men, highlighted by three victories courtesy of freshman jumper Marquis Dendy (Middleton, Del.), senior multi-event athlete Gray Horn (Waynesfield, Ohio) and junior thrower Jeremy Postin (Auburndale, Fla.), are on top of the leaderboard heading into the final day of competition with 50 points, while the No. 6-ranked women of the Orange and Blue are in second with 40 points, a mere eight points behind SEC leader Arkansas as they prepare for day three.
“Any time you can come away with three SEC Champions in Gray Horn, Jeremy Postin and Marquis Dendy, it just tells you how blessed I am to have the kind of athletes I have, as well as a great coaching staff,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “That’s what this meet is all about: competing hard and going out and doing the things we work on in practice. If we’ll trust that tomorrow, we’re going to be fine.”
The Gator men showed how complete a team they are, battling it out in the field events to earn their victories on the second day. Dendy blew his former career best (7.82m/25-8) out of the water with an NCAA automatic-qualifying mark of 8.06m/26-5.50 to capture his first SEC title, doing so on his final jump of the event.
“I came in and I was really confident,” Dendy said. “I was second in the SEC coming in and I’m only one place away, so that’s all I needed. I had to take that one place and I did.”
Horn took home his second consecutive SEC men’s heptathlon title with 5,885 points, narrowly edging Arkansas’ Gunnar Nixon, the current NCAA leader. Horn used consistent finishes in the 60 meter hurdles (8.11 – 3rd), pole vault (4.50m/14-9 – 3rd) and 1000 meters (2:51.25 – 6th) to stay ahead of Arkansas’ Nixon and Kevin Lazas, and Georgia’s Cory Holman).
“I told my teammates this one was for them,” Horn said. “We’re going for this team title and I take a lot of pride in being a Gator. What the University of Florida has done for me, it’s something you can never really be thankful enough for. It’s my senior year and it’s like watching something come to an end that you never wanted to see come to an end. So I’m just trying to go out well and set a good example for my teammates.”
Horn led by just 97 points heading into the final event, the men’s 1000 meters. The Ohio native, who tweaked his hamstring during one of his 60 meters hurdles heats earlier in the day, needed to stay within 59 points of Nixon’s 1000 meters time and just finish ahead of Lazas to clinch the 2012 SEC heptathlon title. Horn, a five-time SEC multi-event champion (two SEC heptathlon titles, three SEC decathlon titles), was able to execute and finished 44 points ahead of Nixon to capture his final attempt at the SEC heptathlon title.
“(Earning 10 points for Florida) means the world,” Horn said. “Looking back to when I was an underclassman, having that upperclassman who always performed well, on and off the field, being a good example of how to really carry yourself and how to be a good man. It’s just how my dad taught me and I’m just hoping that maybe I can provide the underclassmen with that example.”
(I’m) very, very proud of Gray,” Holloway added. “Winning one of these is tough, so winning two in a row and five SEC titles in a row just makes it incredibly special. Gray’s a special guy and I’m extremely proud of him.”
Postin earned Florida’s first victory of the meet, as he became the first Gator athlete ever to win the men’s weight throw at the SEC Indoor Championships with his throw of 21.48m/70-5.75. The mark breaks his own Florida school record, sets a new personal best and makes Postin the first Florida athlete ever to eclipse the 70-foot plateau in the men’s weight throw.
“All the credit (goes) to Coach (Steve) Lemke,” Postin said. “He’s been training us right and he’s been trying to tweak stuff on our techniques and getting us to throw at the right times. I felt the best I’ve ever felt in the weight throw today and I think it showed.”
Dendy and Postin had assists from their teammates in their events, as junior thrower David Triassi (St. Johns, Fla.) and junior jumper Omar Craddock (Killeen, Texas) also scored for the Gators in their respective events. Triassi had a strong performance in the men’s weight throw, earning five points for the Gators with his fourth place finish of 20.29m/66-7, while Craddock leapt 7.36m/24-1.75 to finish eighth and take a point for the Orange and Blue.
In all, 20 Gator athletes qualified for Sunday’s finals, including four women’s milers and three men’s hurdlers, while the Orange and Blue saw 13 Saturday point-scorers between the men’s and women’s teams.
In the first event of the day, senior Frankie Hammond (Hollywood, Fla.) registered a career-best of 2.22m/7-3.25 in the men’s high jump to post his best finish at any SEC Championship, coming in second place. Fellow senior jumper Dwight Barbiasz (Milford, N.H.) finished third on the day, clearing 2.19m/7-2.25 to combine with Hammond for 14 points in the event.
On the women’s side, sophomore Lorraine Graham (Springdale, Md.) started things off for the Gator women with a third-place finish in the women’s long jump. Graham, whose previous indoor best was 6.04m/19-9.75, jumped a remarkable 6.15m/20-2.25 to earn six points for the ladies.
“Lorraine Graham came into the meet ranked 24th (in the conference) and was leading until the fifth round of the event…what a day for her,” Holloway said.
In the women’s shot put, mainstays Keely Medeiros (Blumenau-SC, Brazil) and Fidela James (Jacksonville, Fla.) came up big for the Gator women, combining for 12 points with their second- and fifth-place finishes, respectively. Medeiros, who has spent the 2011-12 season continuing to recover from an injury suffered during summer international competition, threw a season-best 16.98m/55-8.50, while James also performed at a season-best, tossing a 15.25m/50-0.50 mark.
“I’m extremely proud of Keely and Fidela,” Holloway said. “(Keely) competed so hard and didn’t quit on herself or doubt herself. As a fifth-year senior, she wanted to win really badly. She got beat by someone who was just a little bit better than she was today, but very proud of her for going out and competing at the level she did. When a lot of people would have laid down (after the injury she suffered last summer), she just kept on fighting.”
The women’s distance corps had a fantastic Saturday showing, notching three point scorers in the women’s 3,000 meters. Newcomer Agata Strausa (Riga, Latvia) was patient throughout the race, hanging back until the final lap, where she surged to nearly beat Arkansas’ Kristen Gillespie. Strausa turned in a time of 9:21.38, while teammates Cory McGee (Pass Christian, Miss.) and Genevieve LaCaze (Queensland, Australia) finished in 9:26.23 and 9:32.25, respectively. In all, the trio scored 17 points for UF.
In the prelims of the women’s 60 meter hurdles, junior Ugonna Ndu (Newark, N.J.) advanced to Sunday’s finals with a time of 8.37, tying her converted time from the Don Kirby Collegiate Elite just a few weeks ago.
In the men’s 60 meter hurdles, all three Gator athletes qualified to compete on Sunday, as sophomore Eddie Lovett (West Palm Beach, Fla.), junior William Wynne (Marietta, Ga.) and senior heptathlete Horn moved on to Sunday’s finals. Lovett turned in a time of 7.83, while Wynne and Horn registered 8.09 and 8.16, respectively. Horn completed his 60 meter hurdles qualifying heat just 20 minutes before competing in the heptathlon 60 meter hurdles.
In the women’s 60 meters, both Darshay Davis (Mirimar, Fla.) and Alishea Usery (St. Louis, Mo.) advanced to Sunday’s race, finishing fifth (7.38) and sixth (7.43), respectively. Davis was also a qualifier in the women’s 200 meters, recording a time of 23.88, a new indoor personal best.
The men’s 60 meters saw a quick return to form for defending SEC and NCAA champion Jeff Demps (Winter Garden, Fla.), who advanced to Sunday with a 6.54 first-place finish, just .01 off his school record time.
The Gator men and women swept the top spot of the mile, as newcomers Strausa and Matt Mizereck (Tallahassee, Fla.) each won their preliminary races. Strausa, who has not competed in the mile all season, finished first overall with a time of 4:41.15. Mizereck, a freshman indoors, won the men’s preliminary with a personal best indoors of 4:09.34.
Strausa and Mizereck were not alone in their quests for Sunday’s championship race, as a record-number four women total qualified for the women’s mile and freshman Tyler Cardillo (Punta Gorda, Fla.) joined Mizereck by finishing eighth (4:12.45) in the pack. Defending SEC women’s mile champion McGee also advanced to the final round on Sunday, turning in a time of 4:49.02 to finish second. Junior Mandy Perkins (Ormond Beach, Fla.) advanced to her second-consecutive SEC mile final indoors, finishing with a personal best 4:50.22, while sophomore Shelby Hayes (Winter Park, Fla.) joins her teammates on Sunday with her 4:44.52 finish in the preliminaries.
Two 400 meter qualifiers for both the men and the women appeared on Saturday afternoon, as Ebony Eutsey (Miami, Fla.) led the way in the women’s preliminary with a time of 53.06, while teammate Lanie Whittaker (Miami, Fla.) finished seventh overall with a time of 53.67. On the men’s side, junior Tony McQuay (Riviera Beach, Fla.), the current USA 400m Champion, and freshman Hugh Graham, Jr. (Miami, Fla.) continued on to Sunday’s finals with times of 46.11 and 46.18, finishing 2-3 with season-best performances.
Florida’s men’s mid-distance runners were also strong on Saturday, as current SEC leader Sean Obinwa (Tampa, Fla.) and junior John Mitchell (Plant City, Fla.) advanced to the final 800 meters round on Sunday. Obinwa won his heat with a time of 1:50.65, while Mitchell was the final qualifier in the event with his time of 1:52.49, narrowly edging out teammate Daniel Wehunt (Tampa, Fla.), who came in 10th in the preliminary round (1:52.65).
“(There are) a lot of good events tomorrow but I can guarantee you one thing: the Gators, the ladies and the men, will show up and fight tomorrow,” Holloway said. “I’ll give my word on that.”
The action begins again on Sunday, February 26 at 11 a.m. with the men’s pole vault, the women’s high jump, the women’s triple jump and the women’s weight throw. Fans can watch live on ESPN3.com from 1:25-5 p.m. ET and throughout the rest of the day on UKAthletics.com.
For all of the latest information on Florida track and field, please log on to www.GatorZone.com/trackfield or, for up-to-the-minute updates, follow Florida track and field on Twitter at @GZTrackField or www.twitter.com/GZTrackField. You can also find the Gators on Facebook.
2012 SEC INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS (FEBRUARY 24-26, 2012: LEXINGTON, KY)
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2012
MEN’S TEAM STANDINGS (THROUGH FIVE EVENTS)
1. FLORIDA – 50
2. Arkansas – 44
3. Georgia – 24
4. Ole Miss – 20
5. LSU – 19
T6. Kentucky – 12
T6. Alabama – 12
8. Auburn – 7
9. Tennessee – 6
10. South Carolina – 1
WOMEN’S TEAM STANDINGS (THROUGH FIVE EVENTS)
1. Arkansas – 48
2. FLORIDA – 40
3. Tennessee – 26
4. LSU – 18
5. Ole Miss – 16
6. Mississippi State – 13
7. Georgia – 12
8. Vanderbilt – 8
9. Alabama – 7
10. South Carolina – 5
11. Kentucky – 2
Men’s Heptathlon (AUTO: 5,750)
1. Gray Horn, 5,885
Men’s Heptathlon 60m Hurdles (AUTO: 7.70)
3. Gray Horn, 8.11 (954 pts)
Men’s Heptathlon Pole Vault (AUTO: 5.50m/18-0.50)
3. Gray Horn, 4.50m/14-9 (760 pts)
Men’s Heptathlon 1,000m (AUTO: Not an NCAA Championship Event)
6. Gray Horn, 2:51.25 (753 pts)
Men’s High Jump (AUTO: 2.24m/7-4.25)
2. Frankie Hammond, 2.22m/7-3.25
3. Dwight Barbiasz, 2.19m/7-2.25
Men’s Weight Throw (AUTO: 21.50m/70-6)
1. Jeremy Postin, 21.48m/70-5.75
4. David Triassi, 20.29m/66-7
12. David Levin, 16.18m/53-1
Women’s Long Jump (AUTO: 6.45m/21-2)
3. Lorraine Graham, 6.15m/20-2.25
24. Ciarra Brewer, 4.56m/14-11.50
Women’s Shot Put (AUTO: 17.20m/56-5.25)
2. Keely Medeiros, 16.98m/55-8.50
5. Fidela James, 15.25m/50-0.50
Men’s Long Jump (AUTO: 8.00m/26-3)
1. Marquis Dendy, 8.06m/26-5.50
8. Omar Craddock, 7.36m/24-1.75
Women’s 60m Hurdles Prelims (AUTO: 8.10)
7. Ugonna Ndu, 8.37q
14. Ashley Favors, 8.66
15. Amani Bryant, 8.68
17. Paige Morton, 8.72
Men’s 60m Hurdles Prelims (AUTO: 7.70)
3. Eddie Lovett, 7.83Q
4. William Wynne, 8.09Q
7. Gray Horn, 8.16q
Women’s 60m Prelims (AUTO: 7.23)
5. Darshay Davis, 7.38Q
6. Alishea Usery, 7.43Q
16. Bria Goodson, 7.66
Men’s 60m Prelims (AUTO: 6.60)
1. Jeff Demps, 6.54Q
11. Hugh Graham, Jr., 6.78
16. Leonardo Seymore, 6.86 (6.854)
Women’s Mile Prelims (AUTO: 4:37.00)
1. Agata Strausa, 4:41.15Q
2. Cory McGee, 4:49.02Q
7. Shelby Hayes, 4:44.52q
8. Mandy Perkins, 4:50.22q
11. Sarah Davis, 4:53.46
16. Stephanie Strasser, 4:56.59
Men’s Mile Prelims (AUTO: 3:57.90)
1. Matt Mizereck, 4:09.34Q
8. Tyler Cardillo, 4:12.45q
12. Harsha Torke, 4:16.12
Women’s 400m Prelims (AUTO: 52.60)
1. Ebony Eutsey, 53.06q
7. Lanie Whittaker, 53.67q
Men’s 400m Prelims (AUTO: 46.00)
2. Tony McQuay, 46.11q
3. Hugh Graham, Jr., 46.18q
25. Jovon Toppin, 49.30
Women’s 800m Prelims (AUTO: 2:05.80)
17. Ashley Usery, 2:18.01
Men’s 800m Prelims (AUTO: 1:47.30)
2. Sean Obinwa, 1:50.65Q
9. John Mitchell, 1:52.49q
10. Daniel Wehunt, 1:52.65
Women’s 200m Prelims (AUTO: 23.12)
6. Darshay Davis, 23.88q
11. Alishea Usery, 24.09
13. Ugonna Ndu, 24.20
18. Bria Goodson, 24.53
Men’s 200m Prelims (AUTO: 20.73)
10. Leonardo Seymore, 21.42
15. Dedric Dukes, 21.61
Women’s 3,000m (AUTO: 9:10.00)
2. Agata Strausa, 9:21.38
3. Cory McGee, 9:26.23
6. Genevieve LaCaze, 9:32.25
12. Florence Ngetich, 9:40.11
13. Callie Cooper, 9:41.46
Men’s 3,000m (AUTO: 7:52.30)
11. Josh Izewski, 8:25.54
12. Matt Mizereck, 8:26.28
15. Jimmy Clark, 8:30.80
22. Harsha Torke, 8:57.05
ADVANCED TO SUNDAY’S FINALS
Ugonna Ndu – Women’s 60m Hurdles (1:30 p.m. ET)
Gray Horn, Eddie Lovett, William Wynne – Men’s 60m Hurdles (1:40 p.m. ET)
Darshay Davis, Alishea Usery – Women’s 60m (1:50 p.m. ET)
Jeff Demps – Men’s 60m (1:55 p.m. ET)
Shelby Hayes, Cory McGee, Mandy Perkins, Agata Strausa – Women’s Mile (2:05 p.m. ET)
Tyler Cardillo, Matt Mizereck – Men’s Mile (2:15 p.m. ET)
Ebony Eutsey, Lanie Whittaker – Women’s 400m (2:25 p.m. ET)
Hugh Graham, Jr., Tony McQuay – Men’s 400m (2:35 p.m. ET)
John Mitchell, Sean Obinwa – Men’s 800m (3:20 p.m. ET)
Darshay Davis – Women’s 200m (3:30 p.m. ET)