UF impresses at Jones Classic


Former Florida track and field athlete Jeff Demps competes in the 100-yard dash Saturday. Demps, who also played running back for the UF football team and is on the New England Patriots roster, finished fourth in 10.31.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 12:50 a.m.

Despite a wet start and a chilly finish, the 6th Tom Jones Memorial Classic provided a full day of track and field excitement as a host of impressive performances were turned in Saturday at Florida's Percy Beard Track.

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Former Florida track and field athlete Jeff Demps competes in the 100-yard dash Saturday. Demps, who also played running back for the UF football team and is on the New England Patriots roster, finished fourth in 10.31.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer

Leading the way were the host Gators, as head coach Mike Holloway's No. 3-ranked men's team and No. 5-ranked women's squad took home a number of titles and personal-bests.

“I thought the meet went well,” Holloway said. “Obviously we would have loved the weather to be a little bit warmer, but it probably just prepared us for later on in the year in Eugene (Oregon, site of the 2013 NCAA Championships).

“I thought that everybody competed well. There were a lot of good performances.”

Squads from Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic, FIU, Jacksonville, Navy, UNF and UCF joined UF in collegiate competition, and some of the world's top post-collegiate performers also competed.

The meet is held to honor former coach Tom Jones who guided the UF women's track and field program for 15 years before passing away at the age of 62 in March 2007 after a courageous battle with cancer. Jones led the Florida women to 15 top-10 NCAA indoor and outdoor finishes.

UF wasted no time as senior Jeremy Postin led a 1-2-3-4 UF finish in the men's hammer throw to open the meet with a winning effort of 65.21 meters (213-11), followed in order by sophomore Kyle Strawn, senior David Triassi and sophomore David Levin.

“Those guys did a wonderful job today,” Holloway said. “Coach (Steve) Lemke continues to do a great job with that group, and they're all really dialed into him and what he wants from them. I'm really proud of that group. Two of the four guys had PBs today.”

Also turning in a strong performance was UF junior Eddie Lovett.

Competing against a talented field in the 110-meter high hurdles that included 2008 World Championship bronze medalist David Oliver of Great Britain and Ryan Braithwaite of Barbados, the 2009 World Championship gold medalist, Lovett finished runner-up in a personal-best time of 13.46.

Braithewaite won in 13.36, while Oliver, who had run a 13.36 in winning his heat in the preliminaries, did not finish after hitting a couple of hurdles early in the race.

“It felt good,” said Lovett, one of just two college athletes in the field. “That's the good thing, you know, coming out here and racing against guys like Oliver and Braithwaite and last week with Antoine Hicks and many other guys that have been to world championships and Olympic finals, things like that.”

Other UF winners included sophomore Taylor Burke (high jump), senior Ugonna Ndu (100-meter hurdles), freshman Jayla Bostic (hammer throw) and junior Stephanie Strasser (1,500 meters) for the women, while freshman Jimmy Clark (3,000 meters) picked up his first career win for the men.

The top men's post-collegiate performance went to Justin Gatlin, the 2012 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist in the 100-meter dash.

The three-time Olympian ran away from a strong field to win the featured event in 10.06, the fastest time in the world this year and just .05 off of the meet record.

Former Gator great Tony McQuay edged out a hard-charging Tyson Gay to win the men's 400 meters, crossing the finish line in 45.88 with Gay right behind in 45.95 and another ex-Gator great, Calvin Smith, third in 46.91.

On the women's side, Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown was the big story, winning the women's 200 in a blistering 22.18 that also ranks as the world's best mark this year.

Complete final results can be found at www.deltatiming.com/results.

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