UF TRACK & FIELD
Lovett eyes indoor championship in senior season
Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 9:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 12:11 a.m.
Just call him Fast Eddie.
Florida senior All-American Eddie Lovett won the 2013 NCAA Indoor 60-meter hurdles title in a meet-record time of 7.50 that was a school record as well as the fourth-fastest national mark in history.
In addition, Lovett, who is the three-time defending SEC indoor champion in the event, set a conference record (7.54) en route to winning his third straight crown last year and went on to finish as the NCAA Outdoor runner-up in the 110-meter high hurdles, clocking the second-fastest time (13.39) in that event in UF annals along the way.
“Everyone wants to finish as well as they can their senior year, so I just wanted to pick it right back up from last year,” said Lovett, the 2013 USTFCCCA South Region Men's Indoor Track Athlete of the Year. “I just want to be consistent and do what I have to do when it counts. I just want to finish strong and lead my team.”
Mission already accomplished on the latter.
“Absolutely he's a leader,” coach Mike Holloway said. “Eddie understands what we expect, not just from him but from the team as a whole. He is an extension of us, helping the rest of the team understand the way we want to do things.”
Lovett claimed the 60-meter hurdles title at the season-opening Blazer Invitational in 7.81, then improved that time to 7.70 — the top mark in the SEC and third-best in the country in 2014 — in winning last weekend's Rod McCravy Memorial event.
While he hopes to make if 3-for-3 at this weekend's tough Razorback Invitational when second-ranked UF squares off against host and No. 1-ranked Arkansas among others, Lovett knows the real prizes are further down the road.
“Eddie understands the process,” Holloway said. “He understands that our goal is to get a little bit better each week. If you look at Eddie's performances over his career, he's done a wonderful job of understanding that it's not about being the best in the country at the Rod McCravy meet, but being the best in the country at the national championships.”
For Lovett, who was the 2010 state Class 3A 110-meter high hurdles champ at Palm Beach Lakes High School and still holds the all-time state mark of 13.46, it's been a storybook career that continues to unfold.
“I was actually a football guy, so my first year in track wasn't until 2008,” Lovett said. “To be honest, I had never seen a hurdle and didn't know anything about athletes who were hurdlers.”
Fast Eddie, it seems, is a fast learner.
“Eddie was the top hurdler in the nation coming out of high school,” Holloway said. “We have always expected big things out of Eddie, but he has also expected big things out of himself.
“Watching him progress to be the national champion, national meet record-holder and one of the top guys ever has been fun. He's a very, very passionate person, both on and off the track, and it's just exciting to be around him every day.”
Lovett, who was the youngest competitor at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and made the semifinals, should be one of the nation's top hopefuls for the 2016 Olympics.
His focus now, though, is on closing out his Gator career in style.
“We've won either an NCAA indoor (three straight, 2010-2012) or outdoor (back-to-back, 2012-13) championship every year that I've been here, so I don't want to leave without something similar my last year,” Lovett said. “I'm very glad that I chose Florida and that Mouse (Holloway) offered me a chance to compete here.
“It's just crazy how much I have progressed, and yet there are areas where I can still get better. I'm just along for the ride, you know, as far as God wants to take me. I'm just doing what I like to do and using the gift that I was given.”