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Monday November 24, 2003Florida Women?s Track and Field Signs Four

Gainesville, FL

University of Florida Head Women’s Track Coach Tom Jones announced the signing of Lakecia Ealey (Albany, Ga.), Devin Gapstur (Stuart, Fla.), Natalie Knight (Snellville, Ga.) and Valeria Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) to National Letters of Intent. The signing class includes two state champions and a Junior Olympic Champion.

Ealey finished third in the 200m dash and was a member of the third-place 4x400m relay team for Westover High School in the 2003 Georgia state meet. Ealey, who has personal bests of 11.73 in the 100m dash and 23.99 in the 200m dash, also competed for the Atlanta Heat track club. She was a member of the gold-medal winning 4x100m relay team and also finished fifth in the 100m dash and sixth in the 200m dash at the 2003 Junior Olympics in Miami, Fla.

Knight is the Georgia state champion in the high jump, clearing 5-8, was the runner-up in the 200m dash and finished third in the 400m dash for Shiloh High School. Knight, who has personal bests of 5-9.5 in the high jump, 23.90 in the 200m dash and 55.1 in the 400m dash, also runs for the New Horizon track club. At the 2003 Junior Olympics, she finished third in the 200m dash and fourth in the high jump.

"I think both these athletes will get to a point at which they can help us both at the conference and national levels as freshmen," said Jones. "They’ll be a good addition to our group and will have the opportunity to make an immediate impact."

Gapstur has placed in the top six at the Florida State High School Cross Country Championship each of the last five years for Martin County High School. This season she finished third in the class 4A race and finished second last season. She has also finished in the top six in the state in the 3200m each of the last four year and in the top five in the 1600m three of the last four years. The senior from Stuart, Fla. holds Martin Country High School records in both the 3-mile and the 5K.

Rodriguez is a talented distance runner from Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Miami, Fla. She has shown talent in distances from the 800m to cross country, but will most likely run the 800, mile and steeplechase while competing for Florida. She most recently placed third in the Florida class 3A state cross country meet. Last spring at the state high school track meet she took top honors in the 800m and second in the 1600m.

"Devin is a good all-around athlete. She excels in cross country or in the 5,000 or 10,000 meters on the track. She is a total asset, the kind of athlete the represents what we want in our program," Head Cross Country Coach Jeff Pigg said. "Valeria will be strongest for the track, but will also be a great asset to the cross country team. We are extremely please that she has decided to run for Florida."

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