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The Florida Gators were all over the college and professional sports landscape over the weekend, making their marks in a number of different sports. Below is a round-up of how all of your favorite teams and players did in the wide world of sports.
TRACK & FIELD
No. 6 Florida women's track and field captured the 2012 SEC Indoor Championship in Lexington, KY over the weekend, the seventh such title in program history and their second in the last three years. The Gators actually only won one individual championship as part of the victory with sophomore distance runner Florence Ngetich capturing the 5,000-meter title in 16:12.64.
The No. 2 Florida men were not as lucky, falling to No. 1 Arkansas by 14 points. However, the Gators won three individual SEC titles including the 60-meter hurdles (sophomore Eddie Lovett), triple jump (junior Omar Craddock) and shot put (senior Kemal Mesic). Lovett defended his title from 2011, Craddock won the fourth-straight SEC Indoor triple jump championship for UF, and Mesic is now a three-time SEC Indoor shot put title winner. One major disappointment Florida suffered in track on Sunday was junior sprinter Jeff Demps failing to win the 60-meter dash for a third consecutive season. His time of 6.64 seconds was 0.1 seconds slower than his 2011 time and 0.01 seconds slower than this year's victor.
The No. 1 Gators improved to 7-1 over the weekend with their first sweep of a three-game series this season. Florida defeated William & Mary 4-1 on Friday, 5-1 on Saturday and 5-3 on Sunday in a rain-shortened game. UF did not trail once over the first 18 innings, picking up the first victories of the season for starting pitchers juniors right-hander Hudson Randall (6.1 IP, 5 H, ER, 4 K) and left-hander Brian Johnson (6.0 IP, 5 H, ER, 2 BB, 2 K).
Senior right fielder Preston Tucker became the school's all-time RBI leader early in Saturday's game when he crushed a solo home run in the bottom of the third inning. At that point he had amassed 215 runs batted in over 205 games played, receiving a standing ovation from the home crowd as he trotted back home. Tucker also played Sunday and finished the weekend 3/10 with two home runs, two RBIs, three runs and a stolen base.
In Sunday's contest, freshman RHP Karsten Whitson earned the start but was pulled after allowing an earned run on two hits with a walk in just 0.2 innings. Head coach Kevin O'Sullivan appeared concerned with his command, and it was also noted that his fastball appeared slower than usual. Whitson is normally the Gators' Saturday starter but flipped in the rotation with Johnson this past weekend. Junior LHP Steven Rodriguez (2-0) earned the win as Tucker, sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-2, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB) and freshman left fielder Justin Shafer (2-2, 2 RBI, R) all hit the ball well.
No. 1 Florida softball (13-1) won four of the five games they played over the long weekend at the 2012 Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, CA. UF started the event with back-to-back games against top competition Thursday afternoon, defeating No. 16 Texas A&M 6-5 in the early game before falling 5-2 to No. 5 Washington in the later contest. Junior catcher Brittany Schutte (1-2, 2 RBI, R, SB) and senior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (1-2, HR, RBI, 2 R, BB) powered Florida and sophomore RHP Hannah Rogers to a victory, while freshman RHP Lauren Haeger did not have nearly as much run support in the loss.
Haeger (4-1) got redemption early on Friday but taking the hill in the Gators' first game, a 3-0 shutout win over Brigham Young. Junior designated hitter Ensley Gammel and sophomore shortstop Cheyenne Coyle each hit homers against BYU and found their power strokes again later in the afternoon by hammering two more balls in a 5-1 victory over No. 8 Texas. Gammel (2-6, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) and Coyle (2-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB, SB) led the way Friday, while sharp pitching from Rogers earned her a second victory over the weekend.
She was brought to the hill once more on Saturday, and Rogers (8-0) responded with her third win in as many days in a 3-0 shutout victory against Boise State. It should come as no surprise that some of the team's best performers over the weekend - Coyle, Gammel, Schutte and freshman Katie Medina - all hail from the state of California.
The Gators' successful weekend extended well past those three teams. Below are some accomplishments that the Florida athletic program achieved over the three-day span.
- No. 4 Florida lacrosse (4-1) extended their winning streak to four games with consecutive victories over Siena (Friday) and Detroit (Sunday) by a combined score of 45-8. Junior attacker Ashley Bruns scored a school-record eight goals against Siena, giving the Gators (23 goals) their highest total in program history. One of the eight was Bruns's 100th career goal, making her the second player in school history to reach that mark. Bruns scored four more on Sunday (giving her 12 for the weekend), leading the way for Florida in both contests. Junior As Kitty Cullen (seven goals, three assists) and Gabi Wiegand (six goals, three assists) joined her in the scoring party.
- Rain delayed and eventually forced the cancellation of No. 2 Florida women's tennis' home match against No. 13 North Carolina. The Gators were attempting to win their 99th consecutive home victory but will instead have to wait until a Feb. 29 match against in-state rival Florida State to try and reach that mark.
- No. 1 Florida gymnastics (9-1, 5-1 SEC) tore through the league this year and took down No. 3 Georgia in exciting fashion at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Friday. The Gators, which defeated the Gym Dogs 197.525-196.825, had two gymnasts win a total of five events. Freshman Kytra Hunter took the vault (9.95), floor exercise (9.95) and all-around (39.675), while junior Marissa King won the uneven bars (9.925) and balance beam (9.95). UF swept UGA in the meet and is set to take on Nebraska and Utah over the next three weeks before participating in postseason action.
- After earning a season-highlight win on Senior Day in the O'Dome, Florida women's basketball (18-11, 8-8 SEC) concluded the 2012 regular season by falling 75-59 at No. 9 Tennessee due in part to 20 costly turnovers. Though the Gators were unable to continue their magic against the Lady Vols, eight-seeded UF will hope to make a splash in the 2012 SEC Tournament, which begins for them against Auburn on Thursday at 1 p.m.
- Though he did not participate in the festivities as an individual, Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons was part of Team Texas that competed in the Shooting Stars Challenge at the 2011-12 NBA All-Star game. Parsons's team did not win, but the hometown player (the events were held in Orlando, FL) received a nice ovation from the crowd and got some spotlight in front of friends and family.