GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The University of Florida track & field teams played host to the 2013 Gator Invitational on Thursday, which saw junior hurdler Eddie Lovett (West Palm Beach, Fla.) break a 23-year-old Florida record in the men's 55-meter hurdles.
"Eddie Lovett, what can you say," Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. "He had a phenomenal performance, new school record. I think it makes him the number two guy in the country right now. Couldn't ask more from him today."
Lovett won the men's 55-meter hurdles in 7.10, breaking Earl Diamond's record of 7.15 from 1990. The West Palm Beach, Fla. native is the two-time defending SEC Champion in the men's 60-meter hurdles and was the youngest competitor in the men's 110-meter hurdles at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials this summer.
Freshman Destinee Gause (Reynoldsburg, Ohio) was phenomenal at the O'Dome, taking both the 55 meter and 200 meter titles on Thursday. In her first race of the evening, Gause claimed the top spot in both the prelims (6.95) and finals (6.96) of the 55 meters. In the 200, Gause was unstoppable, racing 24.16 (converted to a personal best 23.7) to take home her second title of the evening.
"Destinee had a great day today," Holloway noted. "She ran about a 23.7 and that's a big PR for her. She's continuing to improve as the season progresses."
Fellow freshman Antwan Wright (Riviera Beach, Fla.) put up a big performance on Thursday, claiming victory in the 55 meters with his time of 6.29.
"I liked what I saw from Antwan Wright; he got a little better today," Holloway said. "He really showed some improvement and we trained pretty hard Monday and Tuesday, so it was nice to see him do what he did."
Sophomore Jayla Bostic (Wellington, Fla.) continued her success from last Saturday's Crimson Tide Indoor Opener, setting a new personal best in the women's weight throw on Thursday. Bostic claimed her first career victory with a throw of 19.78m/64-10.75, a mark she reached on her second attempt.
In the men's weight throw, the Gators took all three podium finishes. Senior David Triassi (Jacksonville, Fla.) claimed the victory in his first meet of the season, throwing 19.95m/65-5.50 on his first attempt to claim the title. Kyle Strawn (Temecula, Calif.) took second with his personal best toss of 17.85m/58-6.75 and sophomore David Levin (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) finished third with his mark of 17.63m/57-10.25.
"All of our throwers continue to get it done," Holloway said. "Once again, I think that's Coach (Steve) Lemke and his hard work with that group."
Junior Caitlin Schuessler (Boca Raton, Fla.) earned the first pole vault victory of her career, clearing 3.55m/11-9.75 to tie her indoor career best from last weekend at the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener. Fellow vaulter Max Lang (Tallahassee, Fla.) matched his mark from last weekend, clearing 4.90m/16-0.75 to finish second in the men's pole vault.
The Gators swept the triple jump titles on Thursday, as sophomore Marquis Dendy (Middletown, Del.) leapt 15.33m/50-3.50 on the men's side to take his event. Sophomore Gissell Warner (Hollywood, Fla.) narrowly missed her personal best by jumping 11.93m/39-1.75, the second-best triple jump of her career.
Sophomore high jumper Taylor Burke (Medina, Ohio) improved on her first outing last weekend, winning the women's high jump title with her mark of 1.80m/5-10.75.
"I'm really pleased with how Taylor has come along so far this season," Holloway said. "She and Coach (Mellanee) Welty have been working really hard and this is just her second meet after playing soccer this fall. She's truly a talented athlete and she and Coach Welty have a great bond."
Next up for the Orange and Blue is the Arkansas Invitational, January 25-26. The two-day meet features some of the nation's top teams, including the host Razorbacks and fellow conference foes LSU and Georgia, as well as non-conference opponents FSU, Nebraska, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Baylor.
"I was very pleased across the board and saw some things I liked," Holloway commented. "I think what we take away from this is that we saw some people get better and now we about 10 days to get ready for Arkansas and I think if we just keep our minds about us, I think we're going to be okay."
I think overall, we're in a good spot; I really liked what I saw," Holloway finished. "I just like this team as a whole. They're good people, they're hardworking and they really want to get better."