Saturday June 14, 2014Gators Men Finish National Runner-Up; UF Women Fourth at NCAA Championships
The UF men's and women's track teams celebrate a strong showing Saturday at the NCAA Championships.
EUGENE, Ore. -- The Gators had their moments Saturday, highlighted by a blistering anchor from Dedric Dukes as the Florida men's relay team of Antwan Wright, Hugh Graham Jr., Arman Hall and Dukes won the national title in the 4x100 relay.
In the end, however, the UF men's team was unable to catch Oregon and claim the program's third consecutive national outdoor title, despite putting up 70 points, the most in Florida head coach Mike Holloway's tenure and fourth-most in program history.
UF's 4x100 relay victory was one of four national titles for the Gators men's track team at the NCAA Championships, helping the Gators finish runner-up to host Oregon, which won its first national title since 1984. The Ducks finished with 88 points, 18 ahead of the Gators.
Meanwhile, the UF women's team (55 points) finished fourth overall behind national champion Texas A&M (75), Texas (66), and host Oregon (59) before an announced crowd of 11,344 at historic Hawyard Field on Oregon's campus. Gators javelin thrower Fawn Miller won the national title on meet's first day.
The four-day meet drew more than 40,000 fans.
While Dukes' performance in the 4x100 relay was memorable, the junior sprinter from Miami had more fuel in his tank. Dukes later cruised to the national title in the 200 meters with the fourth-fastest time at the NCAA Championships – a personal-best time of 19.91 seconds, his second mark under 20 seconds this year.
Dukes' time was the fourth-fastest ever run at a NCAA Championship meet and he became Florida’s third NCAA champion in the men’s 200 (Dennis Mitchell, 1989; John Capel 1999).
Gators junior Marquis Dendy capped a spectacular meet Saturday with a national title in the triple jump. Dendy jumped a 17.05m/55-11.25 to give Florida the triple-jump national title for the fifth consecutive year. Dendy won the long jump Thursday and became the first athlete to win both events in the same year since LSU's Walter Davis in 2002.
While the Gators didn't win a team national title, their performance once again solidified their place among the nation's elite programs. The men finished in the top two for the seventh time under Holloway, and the women's fourth-place finish is their highest since 2010 (third) and the second top-five finish under Holloway.
The UF women's 55 points marked their second-highest total at the NCAA Finals, trailing only the 81 points they scored to claim the national title in 1992. Senior Cory McGee capped her career Saturday with a second-place finish in the 1,500 meters.
FLORIDA NATIONAL CHAMPIONS
Javelin: Fawn Miller (58.13m/190-8)
Triple Jump: Marquis Dendy (17.05m/55-11.25)
Men’s 4x100m Relay: Antwan Wright, Hugh Graham, Jr., Arman Hall, Dedric Dukes (38.73)
Men’s 200m: Dedric Dukes (19.91, +2.1)
Long Jump: Marquis Dendy (8.00m/26-3)
WHAT THEY SAID...
NCAA long- and triple-jump champion Marquis Dendy
On doubling up in the long jump and triple jump:
"I went out there and had a really great time. I told the guys, look, I really want to go out there and get 20 points -- and I did. It just felt really good."
On battling through injury and adversity this year:
"I told myself, if I'm going to fall down, I'm going to fall down on my back so I can look up and I can get up. That's what I did. I took a lot of Ls -- I was hurt earlier, but I came back this weekend and did my job."
On being the first athlete since 2002 to win both the long and triple jump:
"I didn't know that, but I just came out here and said: I want to come out here and double. That was the only thing I came out here to do."
NCAA 200m champion Dedric Dukes
On winning the 200 and anchoring the winning 4x1 relay:
"I went into the 200m feeling great. I just wanted to come in, compete for my team and come out on top with the win. The relays were great. We came in wanting to move the stick around. We had one bad hand off, but we finished the race great. Finishing second overall as one of the top two teams, it's not bad."
Florida head coach Mike Holloway
On the weekend as a whole on the men's side:
"We had a phenomenal day today. I challenged our team this morning to be who we are -- to compete with pride and passion. That's what you saw today -- the 4x1, Dedric Dukes, the 4x4, Marquis Dendy, I mean 55-11? Are you kidding me? We just got beat by a better team (in the 4x4) and same thing as far as the overall team standings. We scored 70 points, we just got beat by a phenomenal Oregon team and we'll be back to fight them again next year. I'm very proud of my group, very proud of what they accomplished all year long and excited about getting back to work Monday morning -- I'll take tomorrow off."
On the women's performance at 2014 NCAAs:
"I can't say enough about what Cory McGee and Ebony Eutsey have meant to this program. Their leadership, passion and pride. They have really bought into everything we do at Florida and they are a great example of what happens when you come in, you trust your coaches and you have a great year. They've been on NCAA trophy teams, SEC Championship teams and they leave a great legacy at the University of Florida."
On the women's team elevating their competition in recent history:
"You think about the fact that Kyra Jefferson wasn't here, some things didn't go our way, but we can't talk about that. What we have to talk about is we're on this -- we were third indoors, fourth outdoors. Now we have to be a trophy team every year. That has to be our goal, to come in here and be a part of the conversation about being a national championship team and I think we're headed in the right direction."
FOLLOW THE GATORS
FLORIDA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP NOTABLES