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In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week Orange & Blue News will keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Gators fans had 21 former and current student-athletes to cheer on over the weekend during the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and USa Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, IA. In the end, six qualified for the draw at the 14th IAAF World Outdoor Championships. Leading the pack are senior Omar Craddock and reigning Olympic silver medalist Will Claye, who finished one-two in the men's triple jump. (Joining them in Moscow, Russia from Aug. 10-18 is reigning Olympic gold medalist and 2012 World Champion Christian Taylor, of course.) Other Gators that qualified include Tony McQuay and freshman Arman Hall in the men's 400 meters, Kerron Clement in the men's 400-meter hurdles, and junior Cory McGee in the women's 1,500 meters. (McGee must still meet the "B" standard qualifying time in an event before the worlds.)
Florida also had representatives qualify for the worlds from other countries. Jamaican sprinter Novlene Williams-Mills will compete in the women's 400 meters, junior Eddie Lovett will race the men's 110-meter hurdles for the Virgin Islands, and senior Ugonna Ndu will race in the women's 400-meter hurdles for Nigeria. (Ndu can also qualify for the 100-meter hurdles race by meeting the "B" standard qualifying time in an upcoming event.)
Avid Tim Tebow fans now have another way to celebrate the player - handing over money for some delicious chicken fingers and chicken sandwiches. Tebow has recently invested in the fast-growing restaurant chain PDQ and will be opening the company's eighth location, this one in Jacksonville, FL, later this summer. The Tebow-owned PDQ will be one of a couple that the former Heisman Trophy winner is expected to open. The company has given him options to start a second Jacksonville location, and he has the rights for Alachua County so Gainesville, FL, could be getting a new chicken spot sooner than later. Tebow apparently fell in love with the food while doing charity work in Tampa a few months ago. He took a break and visited PDQ for lunch but liked the food so much that he returned for dinner that evening and had his brother, Robby Tebow, learn more about the chain.
The lawyer for Aaron Hernandez released a very strong statement on behalf of his client on Monday. Hernandez, who is suspected by Massachusetts State Police of at least obstructing justice in a homicide investigation, has also had his home searched thrice over the last week and the wooded swampy area behind his house searched on Monday. "Over the past week, our client, Aaron Hernandez, has been the subject of a relentless flood of rumors, misinformation, and false reports in the media," attorney Michael K. Fee explained. "These include the repeated publication of a supposedly confirmed report that an arrest warrant had been issued for Aaron, a report that was exposed as untrue. None of these false reports come from official sources and we appreciate the professionalism and restraint shown by the Bristol County District Attorney's Office to date with regard to its public statements while its investigation is underway. Out of respect for that ongoing investigation, we will continue to refrain from commenting on its substance."
On the phone for head coach Billy Donovan, who is out of the country working with USA Basketball for the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championships, Gators assistant coach Matt McCall said Monday that five-star power forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL) qualifying to play for Florida is still a work in progress. CBS Sports college basketball writer Gary Parrish expanded on Walker's situation shortly thereafter, explaining why effort is not the only reason why Walker is struggling to qualify at this time.
"Walker's father has forever been non-existent. His mother essentially abandoned him years ago. He spent his high school years living with a guardian named Jeneen Campbell and attending one of the state of Florida's smallest public schools, mostly because he wanted to be loyal to the woman who was loyal to him," Parrish explained. "Walker could've transferred to any of the fancy basketball academies at any time over the past few years, and he would've probably benefited academically from it. But when you've been left by the adults whose top responsibility is to never leave you, it must be difficult to then turn around and leave the one adult who didn't. So Walker stayed with Campbell and at Holmes County High."
Rehabilitation is reportedly going well for Washington Wizards guard Brad Beal, who has been sidelined for nearly three months with a stress fracture in his right fibula. According to the Washington Post, doctors expect to fully clear Beal to return to the court on July 1 through chances are the Wizards will not be including Beal in their NBA Summer League Roster. The next time Beal is likely to get on the court and play meaningful basketball will be alongside Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons when they participate in the 2013 USA Basketball Men's National Team Mini-Camp from July 22-25 in Las Vegas, NV.
Select Florida student-athletes have carried on the tradition of doing the Gator Chomp to their professional careers, though the vast majority of Gators fail to celebrate great plays or moments that way on the next level. So consider for a moment that Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, someone who grew up a Florida fan but never even played collegiate baseball, did the Gator Chomp on Friday night during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. With the game tied 4-4 in the top of the seventh, Pierzynski smacked a double off left-handed pitcher Randy Choate (a former Florida State star). When Pierzynski got to second base, he turned to Choate and did a Gator Chomp in his face. Even the play-by-play man calling the game for St. Louis recognized the move. Though he certainly rubs some people the wrong way in MLB circles, Pierzynski has never hid his Gators fandom and continues to be one of the team's most ardent supporters.