Gators Men, Women 2nd in Nation

The University of Florida women's track and field team finished second at the NCAA Indoor Championships for the second consecutive season, scoring 51 points, while the Gators men's team finished tied for second with 38 points, tying for the best finish in place and point total in school history.

"I'm really excited about the future of this program. We don't want to be second every year, but we want to be fighting for the title every year. We had a chance today, and that's all we can ask for," said Florida men's track and field coach Mike Holloway. "The guys performed admirably, we had a lot of close calls, and we got beat by a better team today. I'm extremely proud of everybody. For us to go from tied for 17th (in 2003) to tied for second is a wonderful accomplishment, but we can't rest. Our goal is to be the best, and we've got to get back to work."

In the first heat of the 400m dash finals, Kerron Clement ran a career-best time of 45.90 to finish first in his heat. Clement finished fifth overall, however, as the four competitors in the second heat of the event ran four of the world's fastest times this year. Clement's time is the eighth-fastest time in the world this year. Rickey Harris also scored in the event with a seventh-place time of 46.39.

Moise Joseph started the scoring for the Gators Saturday with a third-place finish in the 800m, clocking a time of 1:48.24.

The Gator men's 4x400m relay team needed a top two finish to challenge LSU for the team title. Florida clocked a school-record time of 3:04.69 in the event to finish fourth overall and just ahead of LSU, but it wasn't enough to take over the team championship.

Antonio Emperator finished 13th in the weight throw with a mark of 19.39m/63-7.50. Chip Heuser finished tied for 13th in the pole vault with a mark of 5.15m/16-10.75.

For the women, three Gators earned All-America honors in the shot put with Karen Freberg as Florida's top finisher. Freberg placed sixth overall with a mark of 16.90m/55-5.50, which is a personal best for the junior by half an inch. Candice Scott finished seventh with a mark of 16.83m/55-2.75, and Kim Barrett rounded out the scoring with an eighth-place mark of 16.82m/55-2.25.

Freshman Tiandra Ponteen set the school record in the 400m dash with an NCAA runner-up time of 51.23 to earn the first All-America honor of her career, scoring eight points for the Gators. Novlene Williams also scored for Florida with a seventh-place finish in the 400m dash, clocking in at 51.84. Kamille Bratton added two points in the 800m with a seventh-place time of 2:07.29 to earn All-America honors.

Heading into the final event of the meet, the Gators were three points ahead of LSU in the women's team scoring. Florida finished fifth in the 4x400m relay 3:32.32, while LSU finished second in 3:30.14 to edge the Gators in the final team standings by just one point.

The 51 points scored by the women is the most in school history.

"Our athletes competed valiantly. My hat's off to our quarter-milers - they just really came through," said UF women's track and field coach Tom Jones. "We did what I thought we'd do. LSU just has a knack for coming through. I'm very proud of (associate head coach) Larry (Judge) and the throwers - they did a magnificent job yesterday. Tiandra set the school record in the 400m dash, and I knew that race was going to be fast. We've had a great year, winning the conference and coming in here and getting second by one point."

Florida begins the outdoor season next weekend at the Florida State Relays before returning home to host the 61st annual Coca-Cola Florida Relays March 24-27.

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