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Gators senior Eddie Lovett seeks to four-peat as 60-meter hurdles champion at this weekend's SEC Indoor Championships.

Friday February 28, 2014Lovett Seeks To Go Where No Man Has Gone at SEC Indoor Championships

Gators senior Eddie Lovett seeks to four-peat as 60-meter hurdles champion at this weekend's SEC Indoor Championships.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The tunnel-vision focus, once as evasive as a feather floating in the wind for Eddie Lovett, is a constant companion when his start time approaches.

Lovett could not do what he has done the past three years without it.

A senior hurdler from Palm Beach Lakes High, Lovett can accomplish something that no other SEC hurdler has done on Saturday at the SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships at Texas A&M.

Lovett can claim a fourth consecutive SEC indoor title in the 60-meter hurdles. Former South Carolina standout and U.S. Olympian Terrence Trammell won three consecutive indoor titles -- two 55-meter hurdles and a 60-meter hurdle crown from 1998-2000.

"I'm trying to get the four-peat,'' Lovett said.

Trammel redefined SEC greatness in the event the way former NFL receiver Willie Gault did when he ran track at Tennessee in the early 1980s.

Lovett won last year's SEC indoor title with a time of 7.54 seconds, and then won the NCAA indoor crown in 7.50 seconds, establishing a new school record.

The 21-year-old Lovett, like Trammell, once expected his athletic future to be on the football field. Trammell began to focus on a track career after being captivated by hurdlers at the 1996 Olympics in his hometown of Atlanta.

For Lovett, a broken arm three games into his senior football season at Palm Beach Lakes altered his future course. A few months later Lovett was a state-champion hurdler headed to UF.

Lovett is schedule to run in the 60-meter hurdle preliminaries Friday afternoon with the finals set for Saturday.

Click here for a complete schedule of the meet.

He took time for a Q&A with between practice sessions Thursday:

Eddie Lovett

Q: Have you had this meet marked on your calendar for a while?

A: To be honest, when the season started I never really took it into consideration, how much winning four times meant. I remember talking to Coach Tuck [Gators hurdles coach Erin Tucker] and he was telling me about winning it three times and the last guy to do that was Terrence Trammell and if I won it again, I would be only guy in hurdles to do that. It's something I've thought about but never tried to think about too much. It's still something I want to accomplish.

Q: When you won last year's event did you know right away your time was special?

A: I knew the time was fast. I didn't necessarily know it was the record. Coach Tuck and me had already talked about running 7.50, or 7.50-anything. It just so happened I ran a 7.57 in prelims and then a 7.54, and then 7.50 at nationals. It was in my plan to run that fast but I never looked up the record. It was just kind of when it happened: 'You know you got the record.' I was like, 'whoa.'

Q: Is running in the 7.40s a possibility?

A: Oh yeah, definitely. I've been doing my best to stay consistent and talk about going undefeated [this season]. Up to this point I haven't lost a race, so pretty much just working on staying consistent. If I do what I have to do, do what I've been doing, 7.40s is definitely in the mix.

Q: With so much success, what do you try to refine at this point?

A: It's pretty much about staying consistent. That's the key. Once you are consistent, once there is muscle memory, once you can do it without even thinking about it, then you can go to that next level. That's pretty much what happened last year. I was consistent, consistent, consistent. Even when I ran the SEC final, I knew I was going to win but I didn't know I was going to run faster. I told myself, 'I'm going to do what I've been doing and then push a little more at the end.' And I ran faster. At national, it was pretty much the same thing. It was just about putting a little more aggression and more relentlessness into it.

Q: You still get butterflies at big meets?

A: Pretty much every meet, but especially meets like these. I just see it as energy, whether you are nervous or you are scared, it's energy. I think about stuff like, 'Oh, what if I fall, or what if I don't get out?' Things like that. But at the end of the day, that's just anxiety. But that's anxiety and juice that I can use to do what I have to do.

Q: Do you consider the 7.50 to win the NCAA indoor title your perfect race?

A: To be honest, I don't. I know that I ran my fastest but I don't feel like that was my best. As far as aggression, yes, but as far as technique and the way I actually felt in the race, no. The race I remember the most and always look at is when I ran the 55-meter [hurdles] at the Gator Invitational. I ran 7.10 and got that record, and that translates to 7.64. I felt like that was the best race that I've had as far as technique and form. The SECs and nationals, obviously those are races that I remember, but as far as the best race I've had, that was it. It was in front of the home crowd. It was cool just being there and to have people able to be there and see it from the home crowd. My fraternity brothers were there, a few of my friends were there, people from around the school. To me, that was when people actually got to see what I could do. I was pretty much putting on for my people, the Gators basically.

Q: How is training for this meet going for you?

A: Practice has been going great. Just small, small minor things. I'm feeling good. It's the best I've felt pretty much all year. Last year was a long year for me. I did indoor, I did outdoor, I did World University Games and then I did World Championships. My season ended Aug. 11. I took like two weeks off from weight training and running and then after the third week, I started back weights, and then after the fourth week, I started back running. It's just been a little bit different. I feel like last year I was starting to hit my peak around the Arkansas Invitational, but because I had a longer season, it kind of pushed it back. I feel right now this is the meet where things are starting to come together as far as my start, and just me being able to push it like I want to.


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