Florida piles up wins at home meet


Florida men's track team member Louis Murphy sprints down the track in the men's 55 meter dash on Saturday.

Gabriel Lopez/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 12:31 a.m.

The gray sky and drizzling rain made Saturday an almost perfect day for the No. 4/13 University of Florida track and field team to host its lone home indoor track meet of the 2008 season.

UF's inaugural Tom Jones Memorial Classic — created to honor the late women's head coach who died in March of 2007 after a long battle with cancer — was a success, said UF head coach Mike Holloway.

“We stepped up in a lot of areas,” Holloway said. “With (junior) Dennis Martin in the (55m) hurdles, (senior) Jeremy Hall … (sophomore) Lakecia Ealey was awesome in her races today, (senior) Natalie Knight (in the 200m). I thought the 4x4s did well, the 800, the shot put. We're a well-rounded team and that's our goal.”

The Gators led the way with 11 first-place finishes and 11 provisional qualifying marks for the NCAA Indoor Championships.

UF's women accounted for six wins and five provisional marks, while the men made up the last five wins and six marks.

Led by the All-Americans Knight and Ealey, UF's 13th-ranked women dominated the 200m by winning three of the five sections they participated in. Knight and Ealey finished first and second overall in the event. Knight posted a provisional time of 24.02, while Ealey was clocked in at 24.27, also a provisional time.

“It felt really good to go out there and impress my competition,” said Knight, who caps a patch on her right shoulder with the letters “TJ” on it in honor of her late coach. “It doesn't happen every week, but when it does happen I feel blessed. I wasn't really expecting it though, I felt kind of tight when I was warming up, but when we were lining up and I got into my block I just told myself, 'I gotta do this for coach Jones. You gotta go out there and run fast.'”

UF's solid performance continued as its male sprinters impressed in every event. Hall placed fourth (6.25) in the 55m, while junior Carlos Phillips registered a provisional time of 1:50.55 in the 800m.

All-Americans Willie Perry, a junior, and senior Bernard Middleton finished second and fourth, respectively, in the men's 200m with provisional times of 21.54 and 21.63.

“It felt good to get back into the feel of things,” Perry said. “(At the beginning of the race) I was a little laid back. I know I could have gone way faster, but for the situation, I like my time. It feels good to get back into my old swagger like I had freshman year.”

UF's women's field athletes put up a solid performance. Senior Shawneise Williams posted a provisional distance of 19.31m/63-4.25 to win the women's weight throw and fellow senior Chinelo Ubaka finished third with a provisional-qualifying distance of 16.68m/54-8.75.

Indoor field routines went UF's way as the women put three athletes in the top 10 of the pole vault, with junior Lori Bowen taking first with a provisional height of 3.70m. Sophomore Mariam Kevkhishvilli registered a career-best and provisional toss of 16.82m/55-02.25 to win the women's shot put. Junior Beau Burroughs finished second for the men in the shot put with a provisional distance of 17.93m/58-10.00.

Relays went UF's way as well, as the men and women dominated the distance medley. The men's two relay teams finished within almost five seconds of each other to capture both first and second with times of 10:05.82 and 10:10.75. The women's relay team also placed first with a time of 12:00.75.

Even without top sprinter, sophomore Calvin Smith, the men captured the 4x400m relay with a provisional mark of 3:09.97 to end the night.

“We did great,” Perry said. “The reason I know why is because the meeting we had afterward where he (Holloway) is congratulating the athletes seems to get longer and longer each week. We're getting real good and we're going to be the team to beat here soon enough.”

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