Junior Florida jumper Will Claye has been named the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Men’s Field Athlete of the Year, the league offices in Birmingham, Ala., announced on Tuesday.
It is the first such honor for Claye, who has made a dramatic impact on the Florida team since transferring from Oklahoma prior to the 2010-11 school year. He won two individual league titles at the 2011 SEC Outdoor Championships, claiming both the long jump and the triple jump events. It marked the first time the same athlete had claimed both events outdoors since Leevan Sands, of Auburn, accomplished the feat in 2004.
Claye becomes the 11th University of Florida student-athlete (all sports) to earn an SEC Athlete/Player of the Year honor in 2010-11.
“Will Claye, in my mind, is a superstar on our team,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “He is an SEC Champion in two events and, to be one of the top jumpers in the world, is phenomenal. Will came here because he wanted to get better and showcase his talents, and he’s doing a great job of that.”
Claye currently leads the nation in the men’s triple jump with a mark of 17.24m/56-6.75 (+2.2) and ranks second nationally in the men’s long jump with a mark of 8.29m/27-2.50. His wind-aided triple jump mark at the SEC Outdoor Championships currently is the second-best wind-aided time in the nation so far this season. His best wind-legal triple jump mark from the SEC meet currently ranks seventh in the world (17.14m).
Claye is the top American and ranks No. 2 in the world in the men’s long jump with a mark of 8.29m/27-2.50. He also tied for second in the individual point standings at the SEC Outdoor Championships, totaling 20 team points.
Claye is coming off a remarkable indoor campaign, where he was the 2011 NCAA Indoor Champion in the men’s triple jump and was the runner-up in the men’s long jump, scoring 18 total points.
Claye and the Gators return to action on Thursday when they begin participation in the three-day NCAA Preliminary Rounds hosted by the University of Indiana.
2011 SEC OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD AWARDS
Women’s Runner of the Year: Semoy Hackett, LSU
Men’s Runner of the Year: Kirani James, Alabama
Women’s Field Athlete of the Year: Tina Sutej, Arkansas
Men’s Field Athlete of the Year: Will Claye, Florida
Women’s Freshman Runner of the Year: Jasmin Stowers, LSU
Men’s Freshman Runner of the Year: Dentarius Locke, Tennessee
Women’s Freshman Field Athlete of the Year: Rochelle Farquharson, Mississippi State
Men’s Freshman Field Athlete of the Year: Stephen Saenz, Auburn
Women’s Coach of the Year: Dennis Shaver, LSU
Men’s Coach of the Year: Chris Bucknam, Arkansas