No. 2 Florida gets three event victories, 11 top-three finishes in season opener
The Gators opened up 2013 on a strong note, turning in 11 top-three finishes and three event victories on Saturday at the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Ala.
“I think that anybody who knows us and knows our program expects us to perform at a high level and when we’re recruiting athletes, we don’t recruit them to be successful when they’re juniors and seniors. We expect them to come in and contribute right away and that’s what you saw with our freshman class today,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said.
“I’m very proud of all of [the freshmen] and I think as a whole, the team performed at a high level,” Holloway continued. “I wanted to see some pride, I wanted to see some passion and I wanted to see execution. We had all of those [Saturday].”
Sophomore thrower David Levin threw a career best in the weight throw on Saturday. Levin bested his previous career mark by over five feet, throwing 18.44m/60-6 to come in third.
“We have the best throws coach in the country in Steve Lemke,” Holloway said. “Every year, whether it’s Mariam [Kevkhishvili], Kemal [Mesic], [David] Triassi, [Jeremy] Postin and now these two, the hits keep on coming with [Coach Lemke]. When you put a team like this together, you have a lot of integral parts and the throws coach is a huge part of the program.”
Florida’s sprinting corps had a solid day at the CrossPlex, as the men’s 4x400-meter relay, comprised of just sophomores and freshmen, led the way with a time of 3:07.59. Najee Glass, Hugh Graham Jr., Dedric Dukes and Arman Hall combined for the second-fastest time in the NCAA so far in 2013.
Hall and Glass also turned in solid performances in the men’s 200 meters, finishing in 21.22 and 21.38 to cross in second and fourth overall, respectively.
The Gators took the long jump title, as sophomore Marquis Dendy claimed the men’s title by jumping 7.75m/25-5.25, good for second in the NCAA this year.
Two-time defending SEC Champion hurdler Eddie Lovett won both his prelim and final, taking the title in 7.76 for the fourth-fastest time of his career and the third-fastest time in the NCAA this year.
“I was so impressed with Eddie [Lovett on Saturday],” Holloway noted. “For him to run by himself and beat the field by that much, that was impressive and it’s easily the fastest he’s ever opened up [a season].”
Freshman Moriel Pitt won his section of the men’s 60-meter hurdles with a time of 7.98, taking both the preliminary round and the final in his first meet as a Gator.
“Across the board, I was just very pleased with the effort and the focus of our athletes today," Holloway said.