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Thursday May 24, 2012Three Gators Advance to Des Moines on First Day of NCAA East Preliminary Round

Jacksonville, Fla.

The University of Florida men’s and women’s track & field teams used stellar performances on Thursday to advance three Gators to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, while 10 fellow members of the Orange and Blue advanced to their respective quarterfinal races in Jacksonville, as competition began at the NCAA East Preliminary Round at UNF’s Hodges Stadium.

 

“This meet is all about finishing in the top 12,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “Our focus is not the distances, marks or times but making sure we can qualify our athletes and get them to nationals. I thought overall we had a very solid day.”

 

In the first event of the day, sophomore Stipe Zunic (Zadar, Croatia) kept his hot streak alive, earning his seventh consecutive javelin victory en route to qualifying for his second straight NCAA Outdoor Championships. Zunic utilized his first throw of the day to solidify his spot in Des Moines, launching the javelin 74.06m/242-11, a new Hodges Stadium record.

 

“I’m very proud of Stipe,” Holloway commented. “He’s had a tremendous sophomore season and it isn’t over yet.”

 

Florida freshman jumper Marquis Dendy (Middleton, Del.) had a career day, qualifying for his first NCAA Outdoor Championships in dramatic fashion. Dendy, in 35th place heading into the final jump of the third flight of the men’s long jump, leaped an outdoor career-best jump of 7.81m/25-7.50 to take the lead and advance to the quarterfinals. Dendy had a comfortable lead among the final 16 jumpers and was able to pass on his final three jumps and advance to Des Moines.

 

“Marquis continues to get better as the season progresses,” Holloway said. “Coach (Brian) O’Neal could feel a breakthrough coming at SEC Outdoors and we’re all very proud of Marquis for going out there and getting better. Marquis had a great day.”

 

Junior distance runner Florence Ngetich (Eldama Ravine, Kenya) battled her way through the women’s 10,000 meters, the final race of the first day. Ngetich found her stride and stayed towards the front of the pack for the entire race, finishing sixth overall with a time of 34:26.88.

 

In the running events, the Gators qualified 10 athletes for the finals of the NCAA East Preliminary Round, which serve as the quarterfinals of the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Six women and four men will compete tomorrow for the chance to advance to Des Moines and the national semifinals. The top three finishers from each heat and the next top three finishers will advance to the semifinals in Des Moines.

 

“On the men’s side, we had all but one of our men qualify for tomorrow,” Holloway commented. “The women didn’t qualify as many as we would have liked, but those things happen. There are always bumps in the road. What makes us a team is rallying around each other and responding. We got our major players through and we’ll be ready for tomorrow.”

 

The first Gator running event of the day was the women’s 400-meter hurdles, as juniors Ugonna Ndu (Newark, N.J.) and Amani Bryant (Tampa, Fla.) advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals, as they’ll compete in separate heats on Friday at 7:45 p.m. ET. Ndu won her heat of the women’s 400-meter hurdles, finishing in a time of 58.73. Bryant finished second in her heat and 15th overall with her time of 59.26. Bryant advances to her first NCAA Outdoor Championships as an individual, having competed as a member of the women’s 4x100-meter relay in Des Moines last year.

 

Next on the slate for the Orange and Blue was the women’s 1,500 meters, as sophomore Cory McGee (Pass Christian, Miss.) qualified for Saturday’s quarterfinals, finishing fourth in her heat with a time of 4:24.31. McGee’s heat was certainly tactical, as the fourth heat produced four of the six slowest qualifying times for Friday. McGee has already qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., having raced to a 4:12.61 finish in Stanford’s Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational.

 

Florida’s sprinters certainly came prepared and ready for battle, as senior Jeff Demps (Winter Garden, Fla.) won his heat and finished second overall in the men’s 100 meters with a time of 10.21. The five-time NCAA Champion and 2010 NCAA 100 meters champion competed in his first race since winning the Tom Jones Memorial Classic 100 meters title in 10.19. Sophomore Darshay Davis (Mirimar, Fla.) followed up her phenomenal finishes at the 2012 SEC Outdoor Championships by automatically qualifying for Friday’s quarterfinals of the women’s 100 meters in 11.71.

 

All four of Florida’s quartermilers advanced to Friday’s finals, as Tony McQuay (Riviera Beach, Fla.) and Hugh Graham, Jr. (Miami, Fla.) both automatically qualified for the quarterfinals of the men’s 400 meters, as McQuay won his heat and finished fourth overall by cruising to a 46.24 finish. Graham, Jr. ran a solid race, finishing third in his heat to advance to Friday’s 6 p.m. ET final.

 

Sophomores Lanie Whittaker (Miami, Fla.) and Ebony Eutsey (Miami, Fla.) also advanced to Friday’s finals at 6:15 p.m. ET, as the pair will compete just a few lanes apart in the second heat of tomorrow’s race. Whittaker easily won her heat in 52.46, finishing second overall, while Eutsey competed in an incredibly tight heat, finishing fourth in her flight and 20th overall in 53.70, the second-fastest non-automatic qualifier.

 

Freshman distance runner Tyler Cardillo (Punta Gorda, Fla.) finished fourth overall and was the fastest non-automatic qualifier in the men’s 800 meters, as the rookie advanced in his first NCAA preliminary appearance with a time of 1:49.30.

 

The Orange and Blue kick things off tomorrow with the men’s hammer throw at 10 a.m. ET, as juniors Jeremy Postin (Auburndale, Fla.) and David Triassi (St. Johns, Fla.) will look to continue their stellar outdoor seasons. Also competing on Friday will be the 2012 SEC Commissioner’s Trophy winner and SEC Co-Women’s Runner of the Year, senior Genevieve LaCaze (Queensland, Australia), as she will race alongside teammate Stephanie Strasser (Fernandina Beach, Fla.) in the women’s 3000 meter steeplechase to close out Friday’s events.

 

The meet central for this weekend’s NCAA East Preliminary Round can be found here, along with live video streaming of the weekend’s events. Full results and recaps of each day’s events can be found on GatorZone.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.

 

NCAA EAST PRELIMINARY ROUND – NCAA OUTDOOR TRACK & FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS (MAY 24-26, 2012 – JACKSONVILLE, FL)

 

THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2012

 

FIELD EVENTS

 

Women’s Long Jump – Quarterfinal

14.          Lorraine Graham, 6.13m/20-1.50

30.          Daniela Griffin, 5.90m/19-4.25

 

Men’s Long Jump – Quarterfinal

1.             Marquis Dendy, 7.81m/25-7.50 (PR) (Q)

17.          Omar Craddock, 7.42m/24-4.25

 

Men’s Javelin Throw – Quarterfinal

1.             Stipe Zunic, 74.06m/242-11 (Q)

 

RUNNING EVENTS

 

Women’s 100 Meters – First Round

20.          Darshay Davis, 11.71Q

 

Men’s 100 Meters – First Round

2.             Jeff Demps, 10.21Q

 

Women’s 400 Meters – First Round

2.             Lanie Whittaker, 52.46Q

20.          Ebony Eutsey, 53.70q

 

Men’s 400 Meters – First Round

4.             Tony McQuay, 46.24Q

13.          Hugh Graham, Jr., 46.60Q

 

Men’s 800 Meters – First Round

4.             Tyler Cardillo, 1:49.30q

30.          John Mitchell, 1:51.19

 

Women’s 1,500 Meters – First Round

16.          Cory McGee, 4:24.31Q

22.          Agata Strausa, 4:25.59

37.          Mandy Perkins, 4:32.65

41.          Shelby Hayes, 4:33.82

 

Women’s 10,000 Meters – Quarterfinal

6.             Florence Ngetich, 34:26.88 (Q)

--             Callie Cooper, DNF

 

Women’s 400 Meter Hurdles – First Round

12.          Ugonna Ndu, 58.73Q

15.          Amani Bryant, 59.26q

30.          Ashley Usery, 1:00.16

 

(Q) – Qualified for Des Moines

Q or q – Qualified for quarterfinals in Jacksonville

 

Friday, May 25

 

10:00 am

Hammer

Men

First Rd./Quarter

Jeremy Postin, David Triassi

3:00 pm

Discus

Women

First Rd./Quarter

Kaitlin Davis, Ashley Miller

4:30 pm

Triple Jump

Men

First Rd./Quarter

Omar Craddock, Marquis Dendy

5:00 pm

High Jump

Women

First Rd./Quarter

Taylor Burke

5:00 pm

110m H

Men    

First Rd.

Eddie Lovett

5:30 pm

100m H

Women 

First Rd.

Ugonna Ndu

6:00 pm

400m

Men

Quarter

Hugh Graham, Jr., Tony McQuay

6:15 pm

400m

Women

Quarter

Ebony Eutsey, Lanie Whittaker

6:30 pm

100m

Men

Quarter

Jeff Demps

6:45 pm

100m

Women

Quarter

Darshay Davis

7:00 pm

800m

Men

Quarter

Tyler Cardillo

7:45 pm

400m H

Women

Quarter

Amani Bryant, Ugonna Ndu

8:00 pm

200m

Men

First Rd.

Dedric Dukes, Leonardo Seymore

8:25 pm

200m     

Women 

First Rd.

Darshay Davis

9:00 pm

3,000m Steeple

Men     

Quarter

Mark Parrish

9:30 pm

3,000m Steeple

Women  

Quarter

Genevieve LaCaze, Stephanie Strasser

 

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