Gators get the season started


Published: Monday, January 16, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 16, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
Enlarge |

Florida junior Kecia Johnson of Gainesville, shown running in a relay, was one of three Gators in the top 5 in the 800m, coming in fifth with a run of 2:14.78.

TRICIA COYNE/Special to the Sun
Senior All-American Rachel Longfors and senior Jyn Wynn each posted NCAA provisional marks in the weight throw, while senior All-American Sekou Clarke ran a personal-best to win the 200m, as the Gators competed for the first time in 2006 at the Florida Intercollegiate on Sunday at the O'Connell Center.
UF freshman Shannon Leinert claimed a victory in the 800m, her first-ever collegiate event, while classmate Jenna Utecht equaled the top mark in the high jump and had another top-five finish in the 55-meter hurdles at her first event.
"We have a long way to go to be a competitive team, but this is a good meet to allow everyone to get their feet wet," Florida women's coach Tom Jones said. "I was pleased with the performances from our weight throwers and Shannon Leinert. For her to come into her first collegiate event and win is pretty special.
"I was very happy with the performance from our 800m runners."
Clarke cruised to first in the 200m with a career-best indoor time of 21.56 to lead the men's team. His time was just 0.16 off the NCAA provisional mark and gave him the 18th win of his career.
"We just wanted to see how we would react competing with the lights on, so to speak, and I'm pleased, but not satisfied," Florida men's coach Mike Holloway said. "We've got a lot of work to do, but our goal is to be ready for the championship season, not for meets in January."
A four-time All-American, Longfors bested Wynn on her final toss of the weight throw with a mark of 19.62m/64-4.50, edging out Wynn's throw of 19.56m/64-2.25. The senior duo finished 1-2 in the event, securing NCAA provisional marks.
Leinert made a big splash in her first-ever collegiate track event, taking first place in the 800m run with a time of 2:11.50. She narrowly topped senior teammate Amanda Schommer, who clocked in at 2:11.69 to take the runner-up position. Junior Kecia Johnson was the third Gator to finish in the top-five in the 800m, coming in fifth with a run of 2:14.78.
Utecht competed in four events, posting her best finish in the high jump with a leap of 1.72m (5-7.75), matching Ann Larsen of Central Florida for the top mark in the event. Utecht also notched a top-10 finish in the 55-meter hurdles with a ninth-best clocking of 8.24.
Sophomore All-American Lakecia Ealey was the top collegiate finisher in the 55m, clocking in a time of 6.98 in the finals of the event, eclipsing her heat-winning time of 6.99 in the prelims.
Classmate Abigail David matched Ealey's feat in the 400m, placing as the top collegiate finisher with a time of 56.46. David set a new personal indoor record in the event, besting her previous clocking of 56.59 at the Tyson Invitational in 2005.
In the 5,000m, sophomore Devin Gapstur (Stuart, Fla.) set a new personal-best time of 18:17.12 and finished second in the race. Fellow sophomore Natalie Moser (Tampa, Fla.) also turned in a runner-up performance in the pole vault competition, clearing a personal-best 3.85m/12-7.75. Senior Dara Altman (Tampa, Fla.) equaled Moser's mark and came in third in the pole vault.
With a time of 3:45.44, David, sophomore Zan Joseph (Boynton Beach, Fla.), junior Dominique McLeggan (Weston, Fla.) and sophomore Natalie Knight (Snellville, Ga.) claimed the runner-up spot in the 4x400m relay thanks to a good start from David.
"We will up our competition every meet, and next weekend's is one of the tougher ones we'll have this year with three of the top five or six teams in the country coming in," Jones said. "We have a long way to go, and we have to get some girls healthy."
For the men, senior All-American Shane Stroup (Columbia, Md.) nearly picked up the first provisional mark for the men when he finished strong in the 800m and took second in 1:50.92 - just 0.82 away from reaching the NCAA provisional standard.
Competing for the first time indoors as a Gator, Steven Hassen (Ocala, Fla.) was the top collegiate finisher in the mile as the junior remained close with former Gator All-American and Olympian Moise Joseph, who won the event in 4:10.51. Hassen was right behind in 4:12.29.
Also faring well for the Gators was Eugene Martin (Gainesville, Fla.) who beat all the collegians in the field in the high jump and took second overall with a leap of 2.05m/6-8.75.
Sophomore All-American Richard Adu-Bobie (Orleans, Canada), the third-place finisher in the 60m at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships, finished first among collegians and third overall in the 55m dash with a time of 6.31.
In his Gator debut, freshman Dennis Martin (Anderson, S.C.) came through as the top collegiate finisher in the 55-meter hurdles as he took third in 7.66 after clocking a time of 7.59 in the prelims.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top