Knoxville, TN - The University of Florida track and field teams
travel to Knoxville, Tenn., this Thursday-Sunday to compete in the
Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships hosted by the University of Tennessee at its Tom Black Track. The Gator men will be looking for their first SEC outdoor title since 1987, while the women look to defend their outdoor crown from a year ago.
The Florida women enter the meet seeking the “Triple Crown” after
winning the 2009 SEC Cross Country Championship and the 2010 SEC Indoor Championship. It would be the second such triple in school history after also accomplishing the feat in 1996-97.
“To this point, I am very, very pleased with the results we have had
this year,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “We’re going to do
what we always do – we’re going to take care of the Gators. There’s some very good competition out there, but we have got to go in there and do what we’ve done all season long. There’s a computer that takes care of the scores and we’ll let the computer do its job.”
Both Florida programs enter the meet ranked among the nation’s top 10
and will face a stiff challenge from a number of ranked SEC teams. The
Gator men are third-ranked nationally and are the highest-rated SEC
men’s team. They are one of eight league programs ranked in the
current women’s top 25. That list includes No. 5 LSU, No. 9 Auburn, No.
11 South Carolina, No. 13 Ole Miss, No. 15 Mississippi State, No. 25
Georgia and No. 25 Arkansas. The Florida women are ranked 10th
nationally and are one of four league programs ranked in the current
women’s top 25. That list includes No. 2 LSU, No. 11 Arkansas and No. 15 Auburn.
“When athletes come to the University of Florida that’s what they
expect,” Holloway said. “I don’t think anybody in this program is going
to shy away from the challenge. It’s going to be a great meet on both
The Gators will be looking to defend nine SEC individual championships
from last year’s outdoor meet - men’s decathlon (Gray Horn), women’s
steeplechase (Genevieve LaCaze), women’s triple jump (Shara Proctor), women’s long jump (Shara Proctor), women’s javelin (Evelien Dekkers), women’s shot put (Mariam Kevkhishvili), men’s 200m dash (Jeremy Hall), men’s 400m dash (Calvin Smith) and the men’s 4x100-meter relay.
The Florida men’s track and field team enters the meet with the
top-ranked 400m runner in the world, Calvin Smith (Lutz, Fla.), who
holds the top time of 44.81. The Gators also have the top-ranked men’s
4x400m relay team in the world (3:00.31) and the No. 1 men’s 4x100m
relay in the nation (38.93). Junior thrower Kemal Mesic (Sarajevo,
Bosnia) ranks second in the nation in the men’s shot put (19.38m/63-7),
while sophomore sprinter Jeff Demps (Winter Garden, Fla.) is third
natitonally in the men’s 100m dash (10.11). Heading into the league
championships, Florida leads the conference in the men's 400m (Smith),
men's 4x100m, men's 4x400m, men's triple jump (Omar Craddock), men's shot put (Mesic), and men's decathlon (Horn).
The Gator women’s track and field team enters the meet with the nation's No. 1-ranked shot putter Mariam Kevkhishvili (Tbilisi, Georgia), a
two-time SEC Outdoor Champion, who leads the NCAA with a personal-record mark of 18.46m/60-6.75. The senior, who has gone undefeated this season (indoors and outdoors), holds the SEC outdoor meet record in the women's shot put. Senior jumper Shara Proctor (The Valley, Anguilla) ranks second in the nation in the women's long jump (6.63m/21-9) and fifth nationally in the triple jump (13.29m/43-7.25). Senior thrower Evelien Dekkers (Etten Leur, Netherlands) ranks seventh in the nation in the women's javelin with a season-best mark of 52.12m/171-0. Florida enters the meet ranked 1-2 in the conference in the women's steeplechase (Julie Northrup and Genevieve LaCaze). The Gators have the best mark in the conference this year in the women's steeplechase (Julie Northrup), women's shot put (Kevkhishvili), women's long jump (Proctor), women's triple jump (Proctor) and women's javelin (Dekkers).
A venue that has hosted many a great meet through the years, Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium features an Olympic-caliber eight-lane oval, situated in the heart of the University of Tennessee campus. The
facility has a totally different appearance in 2010, showcasing a fresh
PolyTan PUR surface applied in winter 2009-10. In addition to that
enhancement, the venue’s ambience was upgraded tremendously, with the completion of the stadium’s entry plaza and the use of brick and wrought iron fencing to improve the look of the competition area, pavilion and seating areas.
Tom Black Track has been the site of several prestigious meets through
the years, such as the 1993, 2003 and 2010 SEC Championships, the 1994 and 2005 USA Track & Field Youth National Championships, the 1994 USA Track & Field Championships, the 1995 NCAA Championships, the 2006 NCAA Mideast Regional and the 2002 and 2007 AAU Junior Olympics. On an annual basis, the facility is home to a variety of dual and invitational events, as well as the Sea Ray Relays and Volunteer Track Classic.