Jan. 14, 2009


Courtesy of Florida Athletics

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The University of Florida track and field team, with a No. 4 national ranking on the men’s side and a No. 13 ranking on the women’s side, begins its 2009 campaign this weekend, when it travels to Lexington, Ky., to participate in the annual two-day Kentucky Invitational at E.J. Nutter Fieldhouse.

The meet begins Friday with a number of field events and continues Saturday beginning at 10:30 a.m. with the remainder of the field events and the running events beginning at 12:30 p.m. that day. Live statistics will be available at www.ukathletics.com, courtesy of AllTrax Timing.

“In terms of the season ahead, I think there is a tremendous amount of excitement running through the program right now,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “We’re going to face nine of the 12 SEC teams this weekend. There will also be some competition from the Atlantic Coast Conference and some Big 10 schools, so we’re expecting a tremendous amount of competition.”

The journey to Lexington will be good preparation for the upcoming Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships, which are scheduled for Feb. 26-March 1. The site of this weekend’s meet will be the same facility in which the indoor league championships will be contested.

“This [Lexington] is where the SEC indoor meet is going to be held this year, so it should give us a good opportunity to get a feel for the venue,” Holloway said. “It’s an oversized track -  not something that we see everyday - so we wanted to go up and be able to compete on it early in the season.”

Participating men’s teams include: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Eastern Kentucky, No. 20 Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, No. 11 Kentucky, No. 9 Louisville, Miami, Middle Tennessee State, Ole Miss, No. 16 South Carolina, Tennessee and Western Kentucky. Participating women’s teams include: Auburn, Clemson, Eastern Kentucky, Georgia, Georgia Tech, No. 22 Kentucky, No. 25 Louisville, Marshall, No. 20 Miami, Middle Tennessee State, Ohio State, Ole Miss, No. 16 South Carolina, No. 4 Tennessee, UCF, Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky.

Florida returns 16 athletes who have earned All-America honors during the course of their careers, including eight-time All-America sprinter Calvin Smith, who was part of the United States 4x400m relay pool at the
2008 Beijing Olympics. The Gators also return junior thrower Mariam Kevkhishvili, the 2008 NCAA indoor shot put champion. She became the first athlete in school history - man or woman - to claim an NCAA shot put title.