Gators look to keep fast starts going
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 12:19 a.m.
The Florida men and women will try to build upon their solid season-opening performance at the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener in Birmingham, Ala., when they host their only indoor meet of the year, the Gator Invitational, today in the O'Connell Center.
“I told the team after the meet that I think it's the first time in an opening-season meet that somebody didn't get my blood pressure up,” coach Mike Holloway said. “That's always a good thing.
“I think the upperclassmen did a very good job of nurturing the younger athletes and helping them understand what to expect when you go on the road and things like that.”
The UF men, who are the three-time defending NCAA indoor champs, and women, who are the defending SEC indoor champs, are both ranked in the top five nationally (men No. 2, women No. 5) in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association preseason poll.
They combined for six wins and 17 top-three finishes in Birmingham, led by individual wins by juniors Eddie Lovett in the 60-meter high hurdles for the men and Cory McGee in the 800 meters for the women.
Lovett, the two-time SEC indoor hurdles champion from West Palm Beach, won both his preliminary and final heats, with his 7.76 prelim mark the fourth-fastest of his career as well as the third-fastest time in the nation so far this year. He ran a 7.80 in winning the final.
“Eddie Lovett had a great race,” Holloway said. “He was clearly head and shoulders above everybody else in the competition, and he stepped up and did a really good job.”
McGee, an experienced outdoor 800 and 1,500 runner from Pass Christian, Miss., was victorious in her first indoor 800 despite an early stumble, finishing with a time of 2:09.01 that ranks 11th all-time at UF and is the fastest in the nation in 2013. She was named SEC Co-Women's Runner of the Week.
“I was very pleased with Cory and her effort,” Holloway said. “She had a phenomenal season last year, and then last year at the Olympic Trials, she had a freak accident.
“She was having dinner with her mom when somebody at the table next to her dropped a glass, the glass shatters and goes into her ankle and she had to have surgery over the summer. We held her out of cross country, so that was basically her first race in more than six months.”
UF athletes swept the long jump events, with sophomore Marquis Dendy claiming the men's title with a winning leap of 7.75 meters (25-5 1/4) while fellow sophomore Ciarra Brewer, the reigning SEC Outdoor triple jump champion, won the women's competition with an effort of 6.09 meters (19-11 3/4).
Other highlights included both 4x400 relays.
The men's quartet of freshman Najee Glass, sophomores Hugh Graham, Jr., and Dedric Dukes and freshman Arman Hall won in 3:07.59, the second-fastest mark in the nation thus far in 2013, while the women's unit of senior Lanie Whittaker, freshman Destinee Gause, freshman Kyra Jefferson and junior Ebony Eutsey finished second behind Texas in 3:38.65.
“What I'm looking forward to seeing this week is to see how people make the adjustment from week one to week two ,” Holloway said. “Do they come back and get complacent, or are they able to make the week-to-week or day-to-day adjustments? That will be the focus.”
Field events start at 2 p.m. and running events at 3 p.m., with a majority of the instate schools also expected to compete. Admission is free.