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Photo: Chris Donahue/GoDrakeBulldogs.com

Friday April 27, 2012Zunic Notches Fifth Straight Javelin Title of 2012 as Gators Start Strong at Drake Relays

Des Moines, Iowa

Photo: Chris Donahue/GoDrakeBulldogs.com

Sophomore Stipe Zunic (Zadar, Croatia) claimed his fifth consecutive javelin crown of 2012, taking home his first Drake Relays title with a throw of 74.61m/244-9. Zunic’s victory was just one highlight of a strong opening day for the Gators at the 103rd Drake Relays.

 

Stipe truly gets better and better every week,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “Love seeing his transformation from last year to this year and his connection with Coach (Steve) Lemke only gets stronger. They’re really meshing well and working hard on getting better every day.”

 

Zunic’s finish is a stark contrast from a year ago, where he finished 10th overall with a throw of 61.65m/202-3 as a young freshman.

 

"This feels great,” Zunic said. “Last year when I was here, the weather was also bad with the windy conditions. I went to the finals and only threw 61 meters. Finally, I have started to learn to throw in all wind conditions and it feels really good to be a winner here.”

 

Another strong spot for the Gators on Friday were the relays. Florida men’s 4x400-meter relay qualified for Saturday’s finals with a first-place finish of 3:08.80 (3:08.797). The quartet of Dedric Dukes (Miami, Fla.), Tony McQuay (Riviera Beach, Fla.), Leonardo Seymore (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and Hugh Graham, Jr. (Miami, Fla.) are part of a large Southeastern Conference contingent in Saturday’s finals, as the Gators are one of three SEC teams (Arkansas, Ole Miss) gunning for a Drake Relays title.

 

The Florida women’s 4x400-meter relay also came up big on Friday, as they won their heat and finished second overall with a time of 3:37.70. The Gator women’s foursome of Ebony Eutsey (Miami, Fla.), Lanie Whittaker (Miami, Fla.), Alishea Usery (St. Louis, Mo.) and Michelle Stegall (Fayetteville, Ga.) won one of four heats on Friday to earn a spot in Saturday’s finals.

 

“Both of our 4x400 teams ran really well,” Holloway commented. “The weather wasn’t ideal but they battled through and we talked to them about doing what you have to do to qualify for Saturday’s finals and they did that.”

 

Sophomore hurdler Eddie Lovett (West Palm Beach, Fla.) put himself in great contention for his first Drake Relays title with his first-place performance in the preliminaries of the 110-meter hurdles. Lovett set himself apart from the pack with his time of 13.98, the only sub-14 second finish of the day.

 

Sophomore Darshay Davis (Mirimar, Fla.) won her heat and qualified for Saturday’s finals of the women’s 100 meters with a time of 12.11 (-3.9). Davis finished fourth overall to earn her a spot in her second relays finals of the 2012 outdoor season (Texas Relays).

 

“Across the board, we had a good day today,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “The weather didn’t cooperate today but show me an outdoor track meet that was perfect weather. I was pleased with Darshay, Eddie, truly everybody who put on a Gator uniform today came out and performed well.”

 

Senior thrower Keely Medeiros (Blumenau-SC, Brazil) recorded a season-best mark of 52.57m/172-6 in the women’s discus throw, finishing sixth with the fourth-furthest discus throw of her career. Medeiros also competed in the women’s shot put, taking fourth with a toss of 16.71m/54-10.

 

Saturday proves to be another solid day for the Orange and Blue, as the Gators will compete in a dozen races tomorrow, including four finals from Friday’s preliminary rounds.

 

“One thing we need to work on is execution,” Holloway said. “We’re hoping for better weather, but regardless of the weather, we can’t waste opportunities. We need to come out and find a way to get better and compete hard against the best.”

 

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 103RD ANNUAL DRAKE RELAYS (APRIL 27-28, 2012 – DES MOINES, IA)

 

FIELD EVENTS

 

Men’s Javelin Throw                           

1.     Stipe Zunic, 74.61m/244-9

 

Women’s Shot Put

4.     Keely Medeiros, 16.71m/54-10

24.   Fidela James, 14.44m/47-4.50

 

Women’s High Jump

T4.   Taylor Burke, 1.78m/5-10

 

Men’s Long Jump

12.   Marquis Dendy, 7.02m/23-00.50

 

Women’s Discus Throw

6.     Keely Medeiros, 52.57m/172-6

22.   Kaitlin Davis, 47.12m/154-7

 

Men’s High Jump

10.   Dwight Barbiasz, 2.05m/6-8.75

 

RUNNING EVENTS

 

Women’s 100 Meters Prelims          

4.     Darshay Davis, 12.11Q (-3.9)

 

Men’s 110 Meter Hurdles Prelims  

1.     Eddie Lovett, 13.98Q (-0.2)

 

Men’s 4x400 Meter Relay Prelims 

1.     Florida (Dukes, McQuay, Seymore, Graham, Jr.), 3:08.80 (3:08.797)

 

Women’s 4x400 Meter Relays Prelims          

2.     Florida (Eutsey, Whittaker, Al. Usery, Stegall), 3:37.70

 

Men’s 4x800 Meter Relays Finals   

14.   Florida (Mitchell, Da. Wehunt, Lawrence, Cardillo), 7:37.94

 

 

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