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Florida’s LaCaze makes SEC history

Written by specialtogc, May 14, 2012, 0 Comments,
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The University of Florida men’s and women’s track & field teams finished the 2012 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a dozen individual titles, including eight on the final day of competition at Bernie Moore Stadium on the campus of LSU. The Florida women earned a runner-up finish with 138 points and the Florida men came in fourth with 93 points overall. LSU’s women and Arkansas’ men claimed the 2012 SEC Outdoor Championships.

Senior distance runner Genevieve LaCaze (Queensland, Australia) made history on Sunday as she took home the 2012 SEC Commissioner’s Trophy, scoring 30 points as the SEC champion in the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase, the women’s 1,500 meters and the women’s 5,000 meters. LaCaze is the first female athlete in the history of the SEC to ever win those three events.

The University of Florida men’s and women’s track & field teams finished the 2012 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a dozen individual titles, including eight on the final day of competition at Bernie Moore Stadium on the campus of LSU. The Florida women earned a runner-up finish with 138 points and the Florida men came in fourth with 93 points overall. LSU’s women and Arkansas’ men claimed the 2012 SEC Outdoor Championships.

Senior distance runner Genevieve LaCaze (Queensland, Australia) made history on Sunday as she took home the 2012 SEC Commissioner’s Trophy, scoring 30 points as the SEC champion in the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase, the women’s 1,500 meters and the women’s 5,000 meters. LaCaze is the first female athlete in the history of the SEC to ever win those three events.

“I’m extremely proud of Gen and everything she’s done this weekend,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “It’s the first time anyone has ever been able to win those three events and I doubt it’ll ever happen again. To be able to watch her make history, that’s special.”

LaCaze is the first Florida female to win the Commissioner’s Trophy outdoors since LaQuanda Cotton shared the honors in 2002 and ties as the highest point-scorer in Gator women’s track & field history alongside Shelly Steely in 1985. LaCaze is the highest scorer at the SEC meet on both the men’s and the women’s side since Georgia’s Hyleas Fountain in 2004.

LaCaze won the 3,000 meter steeplechase on Saturday evening and turned around on Sunday afternoon to compete in the finals of the women’s 1,500 meters. LaCaze ran a steady race and took charge the last 100 meters to take home her second title of the weekend, winning in 4:13.44, a new personal best. Cory McGee (Pass Christian, Miss.) took the lead heading into the final 600 meters, giving LaCaze enough space to finish strong, as McGee finished second in 4:15.46. Teammates Agata Strausa (Riga, Latvia) and Mandy Perkins (Ormond Beach, Fla.) finished 7-8 with times of 4:19.37 and 4:21.51, respectively, tallying 21 points for the Gators in the event.

“Turning up today in the 1,500 and having so many girls in the race, it helped having Cory take the lead with 600 meters to go,” LaCaze said. “I can’t even explain the last lap. I crossed the finish line and I wasn’t really sure it was real. That set up a great rest of the day.”

LaCaze then ventured into the women’s 5,000 meters, a race with 29 participants. The Australia native came into the event with adrenaline and momentum from her previous two victories and came out of it a champion, winning in 16:26.38, earning yet another title and another 10 points for the Gators.

“The 5,000 was all about getting in there, focusing, getting in the zone and then it all came down to the last 800 meters,” LaCaze said. “By that point, I had adrenaline, I had the crowd, I had everything. It was just an awesome weekend and I don’t think it could have gone better. I think God put everything together for me this weekend.”

LaCaze was quick to credit her coaches for her history-making performances.

“I have to be honest, it was kind of scary to get a new coach, especially halfway through my senior season, but I think Coach Spangler and I have done a good job at meeting each other halfway and really listening to each other,” LaCaze explained. “He’s added some great training sessions and great knowledge and I fully trust him now and know what he has planned is for my best interest. He and Coach Holloway are going to get me where I need to go. This weekend is proof of that.”

Sophomore Stipe Zunic (Zadar, Croatia) continued his undefeated streak this season with his first SEC title in the men’s javelin, throwing just .02 shy of his personal best with a mark of 77.87m/255-6, using his final mark of the day to throw big. This is the sixth consecutive javelin title in 2012 for the sophomore thrower.

“I was feeling really pumped up today and I think I was maybe a little too energized,” Zunic said. “When I got my PR a few weeks ago, (the throw) didn’t have much power but it had a ton of flight. Today, my final throw had a ton of power and not a lot of flight. It made me realize that I have the power to throw 80 meters if I can get both power and flight. I think I’ll be ready for NCAAs and see what I can do there.”

The Gators swept the triple jump and high jump titles on the weekend. Freshman Ciarra Brewer (Union City, Calif.) took over as the nation’s leading triple jumper with her winning mark of 13.58m/44-6.75, a personal best for the freshman and Brewer now moves to second all-time in the Gator record books. The Gators have now claimed four of the last five SEC outdoor titles in the women’s triple jump, as Shara Proctor won three in a row from 2008-10.

Junior Omar Craddock (Killeen, Texas) won his first SEC triple jump title outdoors, using a winning mark of 16.68m/54-8.75 and becoming the third different Florida athlete over the last three years to win the SEC outdoor men’s triple jump title. Christian Taylor won the event in 2010 and Will Claye was victorious in 2011. Craddock is the reigning SEC and NCAA champion indoors in the men’s triple jump and looks to continue the streak in Des Moines.

“I’m really proud of the triple jump tradition at Florida,” Craddock said. “I try to do my part to keep the legacy Christian and Will built alive and I’m so glad I’ve been able to have the success I’ve had this year. The work Coach O’Neal has been putting in with all of us has helped me improve and continue to work hard.”

Freshman Marquis Dendy (Middleton, Del.) had a career day, jumping a personal best of 15.48m/50-9.50 to finish sixth overall and earn three points for the Gators. Dendy’s leap just narrowly missed the all-time record books at Florida, coming in at No. 11.

“Brian O’Neal is doing a phenomenal job with our jumpers,” Holloway said. “Ciarra is a freshman and she’s now second all-time at Florida and the No. 1 triple jumper in the country right now. Omar is getting better and better as we go along. Marquis Dendy had a great meet this weekend and did really well. Coach O’Neal thinks he’s close to getting a big PR. I just couldn’t be prouder of our trio of triple jumpers.”

The Gators completed the sweep in the high jump as well, as junior Dwight Barbiasz (Milford, N.H.) ended Ole Miss’ Ricky Robertson’s streak of SEC men’s high jump championships at five. The transfer from the University of Maryland cleared a new personal best and won his first SEC title with a mark of 2.25m/7-4.50. Barbiasz is now tied for second all-time at Florida with former Gator All-American Matt Vincent (2001).

“Winning today means a lot because this is what I promised Coach Holloway when I came to Florida,” Barbiasz said. “I was leaving the University of Maryland (whose program is being disbanded) and coming here and I think we had to trust each other. I trusted Coach Holloway and Coach Welty enough to leave what I knew behind because I wanted to compete for championships and they trusted me enough to deliver and today just proves that all of the hard work all of us have put in has paid off.”

“We have one of the best high jumping coaches in the country in Coach Mellanee Welty,” Holloway noted. “Her athletes won both high jump titles this weekend. Dwight had a PR in his win today and Taylor had a PR in her victory yesterday. It’s just a testimony to their hard work and the things they’ve been doing. Taylor’s been focusing on only high jump for the last month and Dwight is healthy for the first time all season. For him to have a PR in such a great field was really great for Dwight.”

Junior Tony McQuay had a victorious afternoon on the track, taking home the men’s 400 meters title and the first such title for the Gators since Calvin Smith in 2009. McQuay then anchored the men’s 4×400-meter relay to their first SEC outdoor championship since 2010, finishing in 3:03.44. The Gators are one of only two 4×400-meter relay teams in the SEC with two freshmen on the track and Florida is the only team with two freshmen running the opening legs, as rookies Dedric Dukes (Miami, Fla.) and Hugh Graham, Jr. (Miami, Fla.) set the race up for juniors Leonardo Seymore (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and McQuay.

“It felt so great to be able to contribute and win as a freshman,” Dukes said. “I try to go out there, do what I can, start things off well and get us in good position and I just felt great out there. To have two freshmen on the opening legs, it shows the coaches really trust that we can come out and contribute to the team.”

Dukes and Seymore also scored in the men’s 200 meters, as Dukes ran an all-conditions best of 20.61 to finish fifth overall and Seymore finished eighth in 21.02 (21.020) to score a point for the Orange and Blue.

Sophomore Eddie Lovett (West Palm Beach, Fla.) came up just short in the men’s 110-meter hurdles, claiming the runner-up spot with his time of 13.65. LSU’s Barrett Nugent earned his second-consecutive SEC title in the event, just barely edging Lovett out in 13.40.

Fellow thrower Hunter Joyer (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) competed in his first SEC Championships on Sunday, earning a point in the men’s shot put with his eighth-place mark of 15.69m/51-5.75, a personal best.

Florida’s women also saw significant contributions from sophomore Darshay Davis (Mirimar, Fla.) and junior Ugonna Ndu (Newark, N.J.), who both scored in multiple events on Sunday.

Davis competed in both the 100 and 200 meters on Sunday, taking third in both events. In the 100 meters, Davis ran a new personal best of 11.30, claiming sole possession of fifth all-time in UF history. Just an hour later, Davis ran a wind-aided 23.05 to take home another six points for the Gators with her third-place finish.

Ndu had a busy afternoon for the Florida women, as she first competed in the 100-meter hurdles, finishing third in 13.37, a new personal best. Ndu then competed in the 400-meter hurdles, finishing in the three spot once again with her time of 59.31. Ndu finished her evening running the third leg of the women’s 4×400-meter relay, as the quartet of Ebony Eutsey (Miami, Fla.), Lanie Whittaker (Miami, Fla.), Ndu and Amani Bryant (Tampa, Fla.) teamed up to finish fifth overall in 3:35.58 to earn four points for the Orange and Blue.

Eutsey and Whittaker had strong finishes for the Gator women in the 400 meters, as Eutsey finished third overall in 52.51 and Whittaker came in fifth in 52.92, combining for 10 points for the Gators. Bryant, who competed alongside Ndu in the women’s 400-meter hurdles final, finished fourth in 1:00.51, earning five points for the Florida women.

McGee, who ran the women’s 1,500 meters earlier in the afternoon, came up with a collegiate best in the women’s 800 meters, finishing sixth in 2:05.39 to earn three additional points for the Gators.

Throwers Ashley Miller (Miami Beach, Fla.) and Kaitlin Davis (Jacksonville, Fla.) scored for the Florida women in the discus, as Miller finished fourth with her mark of 51.26m/168-2 and Davis came in seventh with a throw of 47.06m/154-5. The two combined for seven points for the Orange and Blue.

Next up for the Gators is the NCAA East Preliminary Round, hosted by the University of North Florida, May 24-26.

Courtesy UF Communications

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The University of Florida men’s and women’s track & field teams finished the 2012 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a dozen individual titles, including eight on the final day of competition at Bernie Moore Stadium on the campus of LSU. The Florida women earned a runner-up finish with 138 points and the Florida men came in fourth with 93 points overall. LSU’s women and Arkansas’ men claimed the 2012 SEC Outdoor Championships.

Senior distance runner Genevieve LaCaze (Queensland, Australia) made history on Sunday as she took home the 2012 SEC Commissioner’s Trophy, scoring 30 points as the SEC champion in the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase, the women’s 1,500 meters and the women’s 5,000 meters. LaCaze is the first female athlete in the history of the SEC to ever win those three events.

The University of Florida men’s and women’s track & field teams finished the 2012 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a dozen individual titles, including eight on the final day of competition at Bernie Moore Stadium on the campus of LSU. The Florida women earned a runner-up finish with 138 points and the Florida men came in fourth with 93 points overall. LSU’s women and Arkansas’ men claimed the 2012 SEC Outdoor Championships.

Senior distance runner Genevieve LaCaze (Queensland, Australia) made history on Sunday as she took home the 2012 SEC Commissioner’s Trophy, scoring 30 points as the SEC champion in the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase, the women’s 1,500 meters and the women’s 5,000 meters. LaCaze is the first female athlete in the history of the SEC to ever win those three events.

“I’m extremely proud of Gen and everything she’s done this weekend,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “It’s the first time anyone has ever been able to win those three events and I doubt it’ll ever happen again. To be able to watch her make history, that’s special.”

LaCaze is the first Florida female to win the Commissioner’s Trophy outdoors since LaQuanda Cotton shared the honors in 2002 and ties as the highest point-scorer in Gator women’s track & field history alongside Shelly Steely in 1985. LaCaze is the highest scorer at the SEC meet on both the men’s and the women’s side since Georgia’s Hyleas Fountain in 2004.

LaCaze won the 3,000 meter steeplechase on Saturday evening and turned around on Sunday afternoon to compete in the finals of the women’s 1,500 meters. LaCaze ran a steady race and took charge the last 100 meters to take home her second title of the weekend, winning in 4:13.44, a new personal best. Cory McGee (Pass Christian, Miss.) took the lead heading into the final 600 meters, giving LaCaze enough space to finish strong, as McGee finished second in 4:15.46. Teammates Agata Strausa (Riga, Latvia) and Mandy Perkins (Ormond Beach, Fla.) finished 7-8 with times of 4:19.37 and 4:21.51, respectively, tallying 21 points for the Gators in the event.

“Turning up today in the 1,500 and having so many girls in the race, it helped having Cory take the lead with 600 meters to go,” LaCaze said. “I can’t even explain the last lap. I crossed the finish line and I wasn’t really sure it was real. That set up a great rest of the day.”

LaCaze then ventured into the women’s 5,000 meters, a race with 29 participants. The Australia native came into the event with adrenaline and momentum from her previous two victories and came out of it a champion, winning in 16:26.38, earning yet another title and another 10 points for the Gators.

“The 5,000 was all about getting in there, focusing, getting in the zone and then it all came down to the last 800 meters,” LaCaze said. “By that point, I had adrenaline, I had the crowd, I had everything. It was just an awesome weekend and I don’t think it could have gone better. I think God put everything together for me this weekend.”

LaCaze was quick to credit her coaches for her history-making performances.

“I have to be honest, it was kind of scary to get a new coach, especially halfway through my senior season, but I think Coach Spangler and I have done a good job at meeting each other halfway and really listening to each other,” LaCaze explained. “He’s added some great training sessions and great knowledge and I fully trust him now and know what he has planned is for my best interest. He and Coach Holloway are going to get me where I need to go. This weekend is proof of that.”

Sophomore Stipe Zunic (Zadar, Croatia) continued his undefeated streak this season with his first SEC title in the men’s javelin, throwing just .02 shy of his personal best with a mark of 77.87m/255-6, using his final mark of the day to throw big. This is the sixth consecutive javelin title in 2012 for the sophomore thrower.

“I was feeling really pumped up today and I think I was maybe a little too energized,” Zunic said. “When I got my PR a few weeks ago, (the throw) didn’t have much power but it had a ton of flight. Today, my final throw had a ton of power and not a lot of flight. It made me realize that I have the power to throw 80 meters if I can get both power and flight. I think I’ll be ready for NCAAs and see what I can do there.”

The Gators swept the triple jump and high jump titles on the weekend. Freshman Ciarra Brewer (Union City, Calif.) took over as the nation’s leading triple jumper with her winning mark of 13.58m/44-6.75, a personal best for the freshman and Brewer now moves to second all-time in the Gator record books. The Gators have now claimed four of the last five SEC outdoor titles in the women’s triple jump, as Shara Proctor won three in a row from 2008-10.

Junior Omar Craddock (Killeen, Texas) won his first SEC triple jump title outdoors, using a winning mark of 16.68m/54-8.75 and becoming the third different Florida athlete over the last three years to win the SEC outdoor men’s triple jump title. Christian Taylor won the event in 2010 and Will Claye was victorious in 2011. Craddock is the reigning SEC and NCAA champion indoors in the men’s triple jump and looks to continue the streak in Des Moines.

“I’m really proud of the triple jump tradition at Florida,” Craddock said. “I try to do my part to keep the legacy Christian and Will built alive and I’m so glad I’ve been able to have the success I’ve had this year. The work Coach O’Neal has been putting in with all of us has helped me improve and continue to work hard.”

Freshman Marquis Dendy (Middleton, Del.) had a career day, jumping a personal best of 15.48m/50-9.50 to finish sixth overall and earn three points for the Gators. Dendy’s leap just narrowly missed the all-time record books at Florida, coming in at No. 11.

“Brian O’Neal is doing a phenomenal job with our jumpers,” Holloway said. “Ciarra is a freshman and she’s now second all-time at Florida and the No. 1 triple jumper in the country right now. Omar is getting better and better as we go along. Marquis Dendy had a great meet this weekend and did really well. Coach O’Neal thinks he’s close to getting a big PR. I just couldn’t be prouder of our trio of triple jumpers.”

The Gators completed the sweep in the high jump as well, as junior Dwight Barbiasz (Milford, N.H.) ended Ole Miss’ Ricky Robertson’s streak of SEC men’s high jump championships at five. The transfer from the University of Maryland cleared a new personal best and won his first SEC title with a mark of 2.25m/7-4.50. Barbiasz is now tied for second all-time at Florida with former Gator All-American Matt Vincent (2001).

“Winning today means a lot because this is what I promised Coach Holloway when I came to Florida,” Barbiasz said. “I was leaving the University of Maryland (whose program is being disbanded) and coming here and I think we had to trust each other. I trusted Coach Holloway and Coach Welty enough to leave what I knew behind because I wanted to compete for championships and they trusted me enough to deliver and today just proves that all of the hard work all of us have put in has paid off.”

“We have one of the best high jumping coaches in the country in Coach Mellanee Welty,” Holloway noted. “Her athletes won both high jump titles this weekend. Dwight had a PR in his win today and Taylor had a PR in her victory yesterday. It’s just a testimony to their hard work and the things they’ve been doing. Taylor’s been focusing on only high jump for the last month and Dwight is healthy for the first time all season. For him to have a PR in such a great field was really great for Dwight.”

Junior Tony McQuay had a victorious afternoon on the track, taking home the men’s 400 meters title and the first such title for the Gators since Calvin Smith in 2009. McQuay then anchored the men’s 4×400-meter relay to their first SEC outdoor championship since 2010, finishing in 3:03.44. The Gators are one of only two 4×400-meter relay teams in the SEC with two freshmen on the track and Florida is the only team with two freshmen running the opening legs, as rookies Dedric Dukes (Miami, Fla.) and Hugh Graham, Jr. (Miami, Fla.) set the race up for juniors Leonardo Seymore (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and McQuay.

“It felt so great to be able to contribute and win as a freshman,” Dukes said. “I try to go out there, do what I can, start things off well and get us in good position and I just felt great out there. To have two freshmen on the opening legs, it shows the coaches really trust that we can come out and contribute to the team.”

Dukes and Seymore also scored in the men’s 200 meters, as Dukes ran an all-conditions best of 20.61 to finish fifth overall and Seymore finished eighth in 21.02 (21.020) to score a point for the Orange and Blue.

Sophomore Eddie Lovett (West Palm Beach, Fla.) came up just short in the men’s 110-meter hurdles, claiming the runner-up spot with his time of 13.65. LSU’s Barrett Nugent earned his second-consecutive SEC title in the event, just barely edging Lovett out in 13.40.

Fellow thrower Hunter Joyer (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) competed in his first SEC Championships on Sunday, earning a point in the men’s shot put with his eighth-place mark of 15.69m/51-5.75, a personal best.

Florida’s women also saw significant contributions from sophomore Darshay Davis (Mirimar, Fla.) and junior Ugonna Ndu (Newark, N.J.), who both scored in multiple events on Sunday.

Davis competed in both the 100 and 200 meters on Sunday, taking third in both events. In the 100 meters, Davis ran a new personal best of 11.30, claiming sole possession of fifth all-time in UF history. Just an hour later, Davis ran a wind-aided 23.05 to take home another six points for the Gators with her third-place finish.

Ndu had a busy afternoon for the Florida women, as she first competed in the 100-meter hurdles, finishing third in 13.37, a new personal best. Ndu then competed in the 400-meter hurdles, finishing in the three spot once again with her time of 59.31. Ndu finished her evening running the third leg of the women’s 4×400-meter relay, as the quartet of Ebony Eutsey (Miami, Fla.), Lanie Whittaker (Miami, Fla.), Ndu and Amani Bryant (Tampa, Fla.) teamed up to finish fifth overall in 3:35.58 to earn four points for the Orange and Blue.

Eutsey and Whittaker had strong finishes for the Gator women in the 400 meters, as Eutsey finished third overall in 52.51 and Whittaker came in fifth in 52.92, combining for 10 points for the Gators. Bryant, who competed alongside Ndu in the women’s 400-meter hurdles final, finished fourth in 1:00.51, earning five points for the Florida women.

McGee, who ran the women’s 1,500 meters earlier in the afternoon, came up with a collegiate best in the women’s 800 meters, finishing sixth in 2:05.39 to earn three additional points for the Gators.

Throwers Ashley Miller (Miami Beach, Fla.) and Kaitlin Davis (Jacksonville, Fla.) scored for the Florida women in the discus, as Miller finished fourth with her mark of 51.26m/168-2 and Davis came in seventh with a throw of 47.06m/154-5. The two combined for seven points for the Orange and Blue.

Next up for the Gators is the NCAA East Preliminary Round, hosted by the University of North Florida, May 24-26.

Courtesy UF Communications

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