Today's early start lets fans watch Final Four


Published: Saturday, April 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.

Scheduling the Diet Pepsi Invitational to early Saturday afternoon was a no-brainer for Florida track head coaches Mike Holloway and Tom Jones after the men's basketball team punched its ticket to today's Final Four in Minneapolis.

"That was a natural thing to do," said Holloway, the men's coach. "We wanted to be able to watch the game and didn't want to keep anyone from watching the game either."

And what a good thing for fans of both track and field and basketball.

The only home meet of the season for the men's and women's teams has turned out to be a showcase of the best track and field talent in the nation. The field features 35 All-Americans from the NCAA indoor championships, 11 current or former NCAA individual champions, a world record holder, two world champions, two American record holders and several Olympians.

"It's going to be a very competitive meet," said Jones, the women's coach, of the meet which will have four top 25 men's teams and four top 25 women's teams. "We're definitely going to find out where we are."

One of the first events on schedule, the 100-meter relay, will be a barn burner.

On the men's side, 2005 national runner-up Florida will try to fend off upstart FSU, who will run the NCAA 100-meter outdoor national champion Walter Dix, and a Gainesville All-Star team featuring 400-meter indoor world record holder, former Gator Kerron Clement, who will also run the 200-meter dash.

The women's race will be a replay of last year's NCAA final with runner-up South Carolina, featuring NCAA indoor 200m champion Sholanda Solomon, third-place finisher Tennessee and Miami competing against the Gators.

The event kicks off at 9 a.m.

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