COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Charlotte Browning, Mariam Kevkhishvili and Shara Proctor all captured event victories Saturday with Kevkhishvili and Proctor earning NCAA automatic-qualifying marks for the Florida track and field team at the Texas A&M Challenge at Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium.
The Gators picked up three event wins, two NCAA automatic-qualifying marks/times and eight NCAA provisional-qualifying marks/times over the two-day meet.
“I thought we had a very good weekend,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “We had some solid performances and, overall, I was very pleased with our team. The goal of this team is not to be ready now, it’s to be ready in four weeks for the conference meet and in six weeks for the NCAA meet. Judging by what I saw today, we are going to be in great shape.”
Proctor turned in a collegiate-leading mark of 21 feet, 8 inches to capture the women’s long jump event and break her own Florida school record of 21-4. It topped UTEP’s Blessing Okagbare’s mark of 21-7½ for the national lead and Proctor’s effort is only the second NCAA automatic-qualifying mark in the nation this season in the women’s long jump.
“Coach (Brian) O’Neal has done a wonderful job working with Shara,” Holloway said. “We expected this from her and I’m really pleased that she was able to open up her first meet of the year with such a great performance.”
Proctor became the second Gator individual (not including relays) to punch her ticket to the upcoming NCAA Indoor Championships March 12-13 at Fayetteville, Ark.
“I think today’s performance is a by-product of the preparation Shara put into this meet,” assistant coach Brian O’Neal said. “She worked hard all fall and we expect big things from her. But, most importantly, Shara expects big things from herself.”
Kevkhishvili won her ninth consecutive indoor shot put competition dating back to the 2008 season by posting an NCAA automatic-qualifying mark of 59 feet, 8¼ inches.
Browning charted a stellar performance in the women’s 800-meter run, recording a personal-best time of 2:05.50 to claim the event. That NCAA provisional-qualifying time was just .50 seconds off the NCAA automatic-qualifying standard and goes down as the sixth-best indoor 800-meter time in school history. Browning’s previous indoor best was 2:12.30.
“Charlotte had a great run today,” said assistant coach Todd Morgan, who oversees Florida’s distance and middle-distance runners. “To have a PR in the first race of the season is a terrific start. She is so far ahead of where she was this time last year in terms of training. We are excited about her getting back to practice and running the mile in two weeks.”
Redshirt freshman thrower Jeremy Postin turned in a huge personal-record throw to finish third in the men’s weight throw with a toss of 59 feet, 6¾ inches. That was the fifth-best men’s weight throw in school history.
Sophomore multi-event athlete Gray Horn finished second in the heptathlon with an NCAA provisional-qualifying score of 5,538. That marks the second-best heptathlon performance of his career, second only to the score of 5,586 that he recorded at the 2009 SEC Indoor Championships.
Senior sprinter Calvin Smith earned an NCAA provisional-qualifying time in his first 400-meter race of the season, finishing second in 46.48. Smith was a member of the Florida 4×400-meter relay team that finished in third in an NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 3:06.72. The quartet consisted of Tony McQuay, Smith, Jovon Toppin and Christian Taylor.
The women’s 4×400-meter relay team came just shy of notching its second consecutive NCAA provisional-qualifying time. The foursome of Alishea Usery, Danielle Williams, Ugonna Ndu and Lanie Whittaker clocked a time of 3:40.10.
Sophomore distance runner Rebecca Lowe recorded a personal-best time of 9:30.69 (NCAA provisional-qualifying time) to finish fourth in the women’s 3,000-meter run.
Junior thrower Keely Medeiros was third in the women’s shot put with an NCAA provisional-qualifying mark of 50 feet, 11 inches.
Freshman jumper Omar Craddock, who joined the team at the start of the spring semester, made a triumphant return to the Lone Star State, recording an NCAA provisional-qualifying mark of 50 feet, 8¾ inches in the men’s triple jump.
Sprinters Jeremy Hall and Chris Rainey each advanced to the finals of the men’s 60-meter dash with Hall placing third in 6.78 and Rainey placing fifth in 6.83. Rainey had an indoor collegiate best in the prelims with a time of 6.78.
Florida returns to action this weekend when it travels to Blacksburg, Va., to compete in the two-day Virginia Tech Elite Meet.