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Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Treworgy

Sunday February 26, 2012Women's Track and Field Wins 2012 SEC Indoor Championship

Lexington, Ky.

Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Treworgy

The No. 6 University of Florida womenís track and field team claimed the 2012 Southeastern Conference Indoor Championship, its second indoor league team crown in the last three years and the seventh indoor team title for the Gator women, on Sunday at the E.J. Nutter Field House on the campus of the University of Kentucky.

 

The UF women scored 132 total points to win the championship, while No. 2 LSU finished second with 109 points and No. 4 Arkansas was third with 99. The Razorbacks won the menís team title with 151 points, while the No. 2 Gators were second with 137 and No. 24 Georgia placed third with 85.5.

 

ďThese ladies had a team-only meeting last April,Ē Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. ďThey made the decision that they were going to get better and get better in a hurry, and they were second at SEC Outdoors. They sat down in the fall and they talked about what we were capable of doing and how we were going to get it done, and I think what you saw this weekend was a byproduct of that.Ē

 

The Gator women utilized 16 out of 20 scoring opportunities on Sunday, as Florida scored 98 points on the final day of the SEC Indoor Championships.

 

Distance runner Florence Ngetich (Eldama Ravine, Kenya) brought home the lone individual Sunday SEC Championship for the women with her stellar performance in the womenís 5000 meters. Ngetich, along with teammates Genevieve LaCaze (Queensland, Australia) and Callie Cooper (St. Johns, Fla.), formed a pack at the front of the race, leading until the final lap. Ngetich and LaCaze broke away on the final lap, as Ngetich cruised to a first-place finish with her time of 16:12.64. LaCaze matched her career-best time of 16:24.59 to finish second and Cooper put in a personal-best performance of 16:29.69, finishing fifth as the trio combined for 22 points.

 

The womenís distance squad earned another breakthrough performance on Sunday with the mile, as the Gator women finished 2-3-5-6 to score 21 points on Sunday afternoon and give Florida the lead permanently for the rest of the competition.

 

Newcomer Agata Strausa (Riga, Latvia), competing in only her second weekend of the season, took second place in the race, running an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 4:36.39. Sophomore distance runner Cory McGee (Pass Christian, Miss.), the current SEC leader in the womenís mile and an NCAA automatic qualifier, came in third with her time of 4:41.36. Sophomore Shelby Hayes (Winter Park, Fla.) put in a fifth-place time of 4:44.47, while junior Mandy Perkins (Ormond Beach, Fla.) turned in the best race of her career, finishing sixth with a nearly seven-second personal best of 4:45.51.

 

UFís women came up big in the 400 meter race, as junior Lanie Whittaker (Miami, Fla.) and sophomore Ebony Eutsey (Miami, Fla.) combined for 12 points on Sunday. Whittaker had the best 400-meter performance of her career, finishing second with a time of 52.91. Eutsey came in fifth with a time of 53.12, an indoor personal best.

 

Floridaís women had already clinched the 2012 SEC Indoor Championship heading into the final two events of the competition, the distance medley relay and the 4x400 meter relay. Instead of sitting back, both relay teams pushed their hardest, as the womenís distance medley relay, consisting of McGee, freshman Bria Goodson (Orange Park, Fla.), Strausa and Hayes, finished third with a time of 11:18.46.

 

The womenís 4x400 meter relay, a group that has already automatically qualified for the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships, came up just short of the SEC title with a second-place finish of 3:34.03. The team, composed of Whittaker, Usery, Ndu and Eutsey, had a photo finish but fell just .01 short of LSUís senior-laden team, who won the title in 3:34.02.

 

The Gator men came up just short on Sunday, scoring 137 points to Arkansasí 151, despite claiming three SEC individual titles on the final day of competition.

 

Eddie Lovett (West Palm Beach, Fla.), the 2011 SEC Champion in the menís 60 meter hurdles, defended his title with a time of 7.78. The current SEC leader, LSUís Barrett Nugent, fell in the lane next to Lovett, but the UF sophomore maintained his speed to take home his second-consecutive SEC Indoor title. In all, the Gator men finished 1-4-5 in the event to score 19 points, as senior Gray Horn (Waynesfield, Ohio) and junior William Wynne (Marietta, Ga.) finished fourth (8.00) and fifth (8.02), respectively.

 

"I didnít have a really good prelim,Ē Lovett said. ďMy hip has been bothering me this whole time, so Iíve been trying to focus through that, but last night I went to the hotel and worked with our trainers and they got me right. Iím still feeling some pain, but itís mind over matter. (The coaches said) just keep pushing, stay tall in between the hurdles and that was my only thing. Itís just one race and I felt like I could finish, regardless of the pain."

 

Junior Omar Craddock (Killeen, Texas) won his first-ever SEC title, using his first jump of 16.44m/53-11.25 to stake his claim on the title. Craddock adds to the Florida streak of triple jump crowns, as the Gator men have won four consecutive SEC Indoor triple jump titles (Christian Taylor, 2009-11).

 

ďIíd say today was satisfactory,Ē Craddock said. ďI wanted to come out with a PR or something but I came out with a season best. Still, Iím keeping at the top of the triple jump charts so Iím proud with it. Iíll go home with the gold, you know, SEC Champion and keep the triple jump alive here at Florida.Ē

 

Senior thrower Kemal Mesic (Sarajevo, Bosnia) won his third consecutive SEC menís indoor shot put title with a mark of 19.89m/65-3.25. Mesic is just the fourth athlete in SEC history to win three or more SEC menís shot put titles, and the first since Kentuckyís Jeff Chakouian won four in a row from 2001-2004.

 

"It's a big accomplishment to win three in a row,Ē Mesic said. ďJust winning one is a big deal. I want to give (all the credit) to the University of Florida because they're my family and I want to give them my best so I know there's nothing more I can give. I did that today."

 

The women also had strong outings by their younger members, as two of the Gator freshmen earned their first career SEC points at the conference meet.

 

Freshman high jumper Taylor Burke (Medina, Ohio) earned the first points of the day for the Gators, finishing sixth in the high jump with a mark of 1.79m/5-10.50 and putting three points on the board for the UF women, who began the day just eight points out of the lead.

 

Another freshman, Ciarra Brewer (Union City, Calif.), finished second in the womenís triple jump, registering a mark of 12.99m/42-7.50, just .02 from Georgiaís Colleen Felix. Brewer far exceeded her previous career jump of 12.74m/41-9.75 to put eight points towards the Gatorsí total, tying the UF women with Arkansas at 48 points apiece through seven events.

 

Junior hurdler Ugonna Ndu (Newark, N.J.) raced a career-best indoors with a time of 8.33 in the womenís 60 meter hurdles, good for sixth place and three points for the Gator women. Sophomore Darshay Davis (Mirimar, Fla.) and senior Alishea Usery (St. Louis, Mo.) turned in nearly the exact same time in the womenís 60 meter final, racing to times of 7.40 (7.392) and 7.40 (7.400), respectively, for five points. Davis also turned in an indoor personal best in the womenís 200 meter race, finishing fifth with a time of 23.82.

 

Florida will send select athletes to the Last Chance Meets next weekend, before the Gators travel to Nampa, Idaho for the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships, hosted by Boise State University on March 9-10.

 

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)

 

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2012

 

FIELD EVENTS

 

Womenís High Jump (AUTO: 1.85m/6-0.75)

6. ††† Taylor Burke, 1.79m/5-10.50

15. Alexis Muniz, 1.68m/5-6

19. Brittany Harrell, 1.63m/5-4.25

 

Womenís Triple Jump (AUTO: 13.30m/43-7.75)

2. ††† Ciarra Brewer, 12.99m/42-7.50

 

Womenís Weight Throw (AUTO: 21.00m/68-10)

10. Fidela James, 17.44m/57-2.75

12. Jayla Bostic, 16.94m/55-7

 

Menís Triple Jump (AUTO: 16.30m/53-5.75)

1.     Omar Craddock, 16.44m/53-11.25

7.†††† Marquis Dendy, 15.32m/50-3.25

 

Menís Shot Put (AUTO: 19.35m/63-6)

1.     Kemal Mesic, 19.89m/65-3.25

6.†††† Stipe Zunic, 17.30m/56-9.25

 

RUNNING EVENTS

 

Womenís 60m Hurdles Finals (AUTO: 8.10)

6. ††† Ugonna Ndu, 8.33

 

Menís 60m Hurdles Finals (AUTO: 7.70)

1.     Eddie Lovett, 7.78

4. ††† Gray Horn, 8.00

5. ††† William Wynne, 8.02

 

Womenís 60m Finals (AUTO: 7.23)

6.†††† Darshay Davis, 7.40 (7.392)

7.†††† Alishea Usery, 7.40 (7.400)

 

Menís 60m Finals (AUTO: 6.60)

3. ††† Jeff Demps, 6.64

 

Womenís Mile Finals (AUTO: 4:37.00)

2.     Agata Strausa, 4:36.39 (A)

3.     Cory McGee, 4:41.36

5. ††† Shelby Hayes, 4:44.47

6. ††† Mandy Perkins, 4:45.51

 

Menís Mile Finals (AUTO: 3:57.90)

5. ††† Tyler Cardillo, 4:14.57

9. ††† Matt Mizereck, 4:19.54

 

Womenís 400m Finals (AUTO: 52.60)

2.     Lanie Whittaker, 52.91

5. ††† Ebony Eutsey, 53.12

 

Menís 400m Finals (AUTO: 46.00)

4. ††† Hugh Graham, Jr., 46.54

--†††† Tony McQuay, DQ (impeding)

 

Womenís 5,000m (AUTO: 15:57.00)

1.     Florence Ngetich, 16:12.64

2.     Genevieve LaCaze, 16:24.59

5. ††† Callie Cooper, 16:29.69

 

Menís 800m Finals (AUTO: 1:47.30)

2. ††† Sean Obinwa, 1:48.77

8. ††† John Mitchell, 1:52.18

 

Womenís 200m Finals (AUTO: 23.12)

5. ††† Darshay Davis, 23.82

 

Menís 5,000m (AUTO: 13:44.60)

4. ††† Josh Izewski, 14:17.52

--†††† Jimmy Clark, DNF

 

Womenís Distance Relay (AUTO: 11:03.50)

3.     Florida (McGee, Goodson, Strausa, Hayes), 11:18.46

 

Menís Distance Relay (AUTO: 9:31.00)

2.†††† Florida (Cardillo, Mitchell, Wehunt, Mizereck), 9:55.74

 

Womenís 1,600m Relay (AUTO: 3:34.00)

2. ††† Florida (Whittaker, Al. Usery, Ndu, Eutsey), 3:34.03

 

Menís 1,600m Relay (AUTO: 3:06.50)

4.     Florida (Graham, Jr., Dukes, Toppin, Obinwa), 3:09.16

 

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