GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Senior distance runner Genevieve LaCaze (Queensland, Australia) has been named the 2012 USTFCCCA South Region Women’s Track Athlete of the Year, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced on Monday afternoon.
This is the second such honor for the Gator program since Charlotte Browning received the nod in 2010. The recognition comes just two weeks after LaCaze was named the Southeastern Conference Co-Women’s Runner of the Year and is the third major accolade of LaCaze’s career, as she was also named the SEC Women’s Freshman Runner of the Year outdoors in 2009.
LaCaze etched her name in SEC history that weekend in mid-May, as she became the first female in conference history to sweep the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, the women’s 1,500 meters and the women’s 5,000 meters. The senior scored 30 points over the meet, earning herself the 2012 SEC Commissioner’s Trophy.
She is the first Florida female to win the Commissioner’s Trophy outdoors since LaQuanda Cotton shared the honors in 2002 and ties as the highest point-scorer in Gator women’s track & field history alongside Shelly Steely in 1985. LaCaze is the highest scorer at the SEC meet on both the men’s and the women’s side since Georgia’s Hyleas Fountain in 2004.
LaCaze won the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Saturday evening and turned around on Sunday afternoon to compete in the finals of the women’s 1,500 meters. LaCaze ran a steady race and took charge the last 100 meters to take home her second title of the weekend, winning in 4:13.44, a new personal best.
LaCaze then ventured into the women’s 5,000 meters, a race with 29 participants. The Australia native came into the event with adrenaline and momentum from her previous two victories and came out of it a champion, winning in 16:26.38, earning yet another title and another 10 points for the Gators. The senior ran personal bests this season in the 800 meters (2:07.70), 1,500 meters (4:13.44) and the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9:55.44). The senior All-American also ran a season-best 16:26.38 in the 5,000 meters at the SEC Outdoor Championships.
LaCaze has six victories on the season, including the Pepsi Florida Relays 4x800-meter relay and the NCAA East Preliminary Round 3,000-meter steeplechase, a race she won with ease while cruising to her second-consecutive NCAA Outdoor Championships appearance. She is sixth in the nation in the steeple and owns the only sub-10 3,000-meter steeplechase time in the SEC this season.
Florida returns to action June 6-9, when it travels to Des Moines, Iowa to participate in the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, hosted by Drake University.
For all of the latest information on Florida track and field, please log on to www.GatorZone.com/trackfield or, for up-to-the-minute updates, follow Florida track and field on Twitter at @GZTrackField or www.twitter.com/GZTrackField. You can also find the Gators on Facebook.
More on Genevieve