Gator Track eyes SEC Titles

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – With several athletes ranked among the conference’s finest, the University of Florida men’s track and field team and the women’s squad will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the 2007 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships May 10-13 at Sam Bailey Stadium.

Competing one of the toughest track and field conferences in the nation, the men will battle four SEC teams ranked among the top 11 in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Poll: Auburn (No. 2), LSU (No. 4), Arkansas (No. 9) and Tennessee (No. 11). The women’s side is equally as challenging and features three of the nation’s top-seven teams in No. 2 South Carolina, No. 4 LSU and No. 7 Auburn, and four of the top-20 teams along with Tennessee (T20th).

The men have 15 athletes ranked among the SEC’s top 10 in 22 different events and the Gators will be looking to post the program’s ninth top-three finish in 11 years at the outdoor SEC meet. Florida hopes to be in the thick of the title hunt in an effort to win the school’s fourth SEC Outdoor Championships title.

Junior All-American Wes Stockbarger (Port Charlotte, Fla.) enters SECs as the only athlete in the conference ranked No. 1 in two field events. Stockbarger owns the top discus mark (60.88m/199-9) by nearly eight feet and boasts the best shot put throw (18.80m/61-8.25) by more than five inches. He could become just the eighth athlete in the last 30 years to claim the shot put and discus titles at the same SEC meet.

In the sprints, a pair of Gator freshmen could continue to leave their mark. Jeremy Hall (Jacksonville, Fla.) is ranked second in the 100m (10.30) and tied for ninth in the 200m (21.01). At the SEC indoor meet, Hall became the first athlete in more than 30 years to win the 60m/60-yard title and could accomplish the same feat if he can claim the 100m crown. Calvin Smith (Lutz, Fla.) owns the SEC’s No. 2 time in the 400m (46.12) and is tied with Hall for ninth in the 200m (21.01). Tyrone Kemp (1989) is the only freshman in Florida history to win the SEC 400m title.

Florida’s 4x100m and 4x400m relays should also fare well. The Gators enter the meet at No. 2 in the league in the 4x100m at 39.49, while UF is fourth in the 4x400m at 3:06.82.

Several other Gators are also ranked in the SEC’s top five, including junior Kurt Lee (Spring Hill, Fla.) in the decathlon (2nd, 6,632 points), sophomore Justin Semeyn (Tampa, Fla.) and freshman Mike Morrison (Chesapeake, Va.) in the pole vault (both T4th, 5.05m/16-6.75), sophomore All-American Willie Perry (Lenoir, N.C.) in the 100m (5th, 10.37), junior Enoch Nadler (Keystone Heights, Fla.) in the 3,000m steeplechase (5th, 8:58.92) and junior Blake Taylor (Lansdale, Pa.) in the high jump (T5th, 2.05m/6-8.75).

For the women, the Gators have finished fifth or better in eight of the last 10 years and stand a solid chance of posting a good team performance with 23 athletes that rank amongst the top-10 in the SEC in 17 events.

Leaking the way for UF, freshman Mariam Kevkhishvili’s (Tbilisi, Georgia) personal-best shot put throw of 16.67m/54-8.25 at the Mesa Classic on April 14 ranks No. 1 in the SEC this season. The mark also ranks second in the NCAA East Region and eighth in the nation. Kevkhishvili is the only freshman amongst the nation’s top-28 shot put competitors. In terms of UF history, the toss of 16.67m/54-8.25 ranks sixth. The last Gator to win the shot put at an outdoor SEC Championships meet was Kim Barrett in 2004, but the Gators have captured seven of the last 11 SEC shot put titles at the indoor and outdoor meets.

Another key athlete for Florida will be freshman Evelien Dekkers (Etten-Leur, The Netherlands), who posted the fifth-best javelin throw in the nation (52.84m/173-4) at the Sun Angel Classic on April 14. The mark, second in UF history, also ranks second in the SEC and third amongst East Region competitors this year. Dekkers is the only freshman amongst the nation’s top-28 javelin throwers. UF’s last SEC champion in the event came in 2000, when Emily Carlsten won the title. Dekkers has entered competition in the javelin three times this season and has earned victory on each occasion. Also a competitive discus thrower, Dekkers turned in the sixth-best throw in the SEC this season at the Mesa Classic on April 13 when she recorded a personal-best mark of 47.85/157-0.

The Gators will also have a strong presence of athletes in the pole vault. Leading the way during the outdoor season, freshman Lori Bowen (Surfside, Fla.) recorded a personal-best vault of 3.91m/12-10 at the National Training Center Spring Fling on April 21. Bowen’s mark completes a trifecta of fifth-place rankings – it ranks fifth in the SEC and the East Region this season as well as being tied for the fifth vault in UF outdoor history.

Fellow freshman Lauren Menke’s (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) personal-best vault of 3.80m/12-5.50 at the Drake Relays on April 27 ranks seventh in the SEC and is tied for 10th in both the East Region and in UF history. Meanwhile, sophomore Alex Black’s (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) personal-best vault of 3.70m/12-1.50 at the Sun Angel Classic on April 14 is tied for eighth amongst conference competitors. With positions one through eight scoring points at the SEC meet, Bowen, Menke and Black all stand to factor in points based off of their current rankings, while a fourth Gator, junior Natalie Moser (Tampa, Fla.), has the ability to post a top vault as well. Moser won the SEC Indoor Championship title with a vault of 4.17m/13-8.25 and finished as the NCAA indoor runner-up in the event after clearing a personal-best 4.30m/14-1.25 and then taking second in a jump-off. Moser, who has battled injury, has not yet recorded a height during the outdoor season, but looks to be healed and ready to go for the conference meet.

In addition to Dekkers in the javelin, juniors Lorain McKenzie (Clarendon, Jamaica) in the 800m and Lindsay Sundell (Fort Salonga, N.Y.) in the 3,000m steeplechase both rank second in their events amongst SEC competitors.

McKenzie earned the second-place league standing in the 800m after running a personal-best 2:05.70 at the Drake Relays on April 27. The mark also ranks third in the East Region, 13 in the nation and 10 in school history. The last Gator to become an SEC champion in the 800m was Nana Allen in 2001.

Sundell ran the 3,000m steeplechase in 10:22.79 at the Florida State Relays on March 30 to earn her second-place league ranking in the event. Sundell’s mark also ranks sixth in the East Region. She has a solid opportunity to become the first Gator to win the SEC 3,000m steeplechase title. 

Live results of the meet will be available at The meet will air on Sun Sports for the first time on May 20 at Noon (ET).

2007 SEC Outdoor Championships Schedule of Events

Thursday, May 10, 2007

2:00 p.m. Women’s Heptathlon

2:30 p.m. Men’s Decathlon

6:30 p.m. Heptathlon 200m (approx. start time)

8:00 p.m. Decathlon 400m (approx. start time)

Friday, May 11, 2007

10:00 a.m. Men’s Hammer Prelims and Final

12:30 p.m. Women’s Hammer Prelims and Final

3:00 p.m. Decathlon 110m Hurdle

3:45 p.m. Decathlon Discus

4:00 p.m. Heptathlon Long Jump

5:00 p.m. Decathlon Pole Vault

5:15 p.m. Heptathlon Javelin

6:10 p.m. Men 800m Prelims

6:20 p.m. Women’s 800m Prelims

6:35 p.m. Men’s 200m Prelims

6:55 p.m. Women’s 200m Prelims

7:15 p.m. Women’s Heptathlon 800m (approx Start time)

7:15 p.m. Decathlon Javelin

7:25 p.m. Men’s 400m Hurdle Prelims

7:40 p.m. Women’s 400m Hurdle Prelims

7:55 p.m. Men’s 10,000m Final

8:35 p.m. Decathlon 1,500m (approx start time)

8:45 p.m. Women’s 10,000m Final

Saturday, May 12, 2006

1:00 p.m. Men’s Discus Prelims and Final

1:00 p.m. Men’s Long Jump Prelims and Final

4:00 p.m. Men’s Javelin Prelims and Final

5:00 p.m. Women’s Long Jump Prelims and Final

6:00 p.m. Women’s Shot Prelims and Final

6:00 p.m. Men’s Pole Vault Prelims and Final

6:00 p.m. Men’s 1,500m Prelims

6:15 p.m. Women’s 1,500m Prelims

6:30 p.m. Men’s 110m Hurdle Prelims

6:45 p.m. Women’s 100m Hurdle Prelims

7:00 p.m. Men’s High Jump Prelims and Final

7:00 p.m. Men’s 400m Prelims

7:20 p.m. Women’s 400m Prelims

7:40 p.m. Men’s 100m Prelims

7:55 p.m. Women’s 100m Prelims

8:10 p.m. Men’s 3,000 SC Final

8:30 p.m. Women’s 3,000 SC Final

Sunday, May 13, 2007

1:00 p.m. Women’s Discus Prelims and Final

2:00 p.m. Men’s Triple Jump Prelims and Final

4:00 p.m. Men’s Shot Put Prelims and Final

4:00 p.m. Women’s Javelin Prelims and Final

4:30 p.m. Women’s High Jump Prelims and Final

5:10 p.m. Women’s Pole Vault Prelims and Final

5:10 p.m. Men’s 4x100m Relay Final

5:20 p.m. Women’s 4x100m Relay Final

5:30 p.m. Men’s 1,500m Final

5:40 p.m. Women’s 1,500m Final

5:50 p.m. Men’s 110m Hurdle Final

6:00 p.m. Women’s 100m Hurdle Final

6:10 p.m. Men’s 400m Final

6:20 p.m. Women’s 400m Final

6:30 p.m. Men’s 100m Final

6:40 p.m. Women’s 100m Final

6:50 p.m. Men’s 800m Final

7:00 p.m. Women’s 800m Final

7:00 p.m. Women’s Triple Jump Prelims and Final

7:15 p.m. Men’s 400m Hurdle Final

7:25 p.m. Women’s 400m Hurdle Final

7:35 p.m. Men’s 200m Final

7:45 p.m. Women’s 200m Final

7:55 p.m. Men’s 5,000m Final

8:15p.m. Women’s 5,000m Final

8:35 p.m. Men’s 4x400m Relay Final

8:45 p.m. Women’s 4x400m Relay Final

Courtesy UF Sports Info