TRACK: Clement breaks world record in 400M

Sophomore Kerron Clement (La Porte, Texas) broke the world record in the 400-meter dash with the 4x400-meter relay team setting the collegiate record in leading the Florida men's track and field team to second, while senior Candice Scott set the collegiate record in the weight throw and sophomore Tiandra Ponteen (St. Kitts) added an NCAA title for the women, who finished second at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships Saturday at the Randal Tyson Track Center.

The men's squad finished second with 46 points as Arkansas won the championship with 56 points. Wisconsin took third with 43. The women finished second for the third consecutive season with 36 points as Tennessee won the meet with 46. Miami was third with 32 points.

Clement broke the previous world record in racing to his second career NCAA title with a time of 44.57 in the 400m. U.S. Olympian Michael Johnson set the previous record in 1995, while the Florida men's 4x400m relay team of junior Sekou Clarke (Kingston, Jamaica), freshman Bernard Middleton (Jacksonville, Fla.), junior Stefan Pastor (Columbia, Md.) and Clement broke the collegiate record and posted the sixth-fastest time ever in the event. Scott became the first person to win the weight throw three times by capturing the NCAA crown, while Ponteen claimed her first NCAA title in the 400m.

The men's squad posted the 12th top-10 finish in school history and took second for the second consecutive season.

"We talked about things this morning and our goal was to get 45 points and we did that," Florida men's coach Mike Holloway said. "We came here and did what we wanted to do and we got beat by a better team. There's no shame in that. I'm proud of all of our guys."

The women's team finished second for the third straight season and posted its fourth-consecutive top-five finish. The meet also marked the first time in Florida history that the women have claimed two NCAA indoor champions and Florida becomes the first school in NCAA history to finish in the runner-up position three years in a row.

"I'm very pleased," Florida women's head coach Tom Jones said. "Obviously you would like to win but we have always over achieved at this meet and this year was no different. I was just elated for Tiandra and Candice. Candice is probably the most phenomenal athlete I have ever coached at Florida."

Clement won the NCAA title in the 400m by nearly a full second in setting the world record. He became the third Gator in school history to win the NCAA title in the event, while his win was the 14th in school history at the indoor meet. His 10 points brought the Gators into sole possession of third place with 30 points after 13 events. Arkansas led the field with 38 points with Auburn second with 36.

"I can't describe how I feel," Clement said. "When I crossed the line, I wanted to cry. That was my first reaction. It was so overwhelming - breaking Michael Johnson's record. I guess it's mine now."

Scott reset her collegiate record in the weight throw for the fourth time this season with a toss of 24.17m/79-03.75 to claim the weight throw crown. She became the first athlete in NCAA history to claim three weight throw titles. Her honor gave Scott 10 All-American honors which moves her into a tie for fifth all-time in Florida history in that category with the outdoor season to come.

"That's the way you want to go out," Scott said. "I had increased my weight lifting so I was strong coming into the meet. On that first throw, I just let it all hang out."

Arkansas had wrapped up the men's title entering the final event of the evening after scoring 11 points in the 3,000m, but second through fourth place was still up for grabs with the 4x400m left to be contested. Wisconsin entered the event in second with 43 points with Florida and Auburn tied for third with 36. Florida then went on to win the 4x400m by more than a full second with a time of 3:03.51 in breaking the collegiate record.

"Those guys set a goal to break the record this season and they did it," Holloway said. "They achieved their goal and I couldn't be more proud."

Ponteen narrowly edged Hazelann Regis of LSU by .01 to win her first individual national championship and fourth All-American honor of her career. She would add a fifth honor in the 4x400m relay.

"I knew it was going to be a tough race," Ponteen said. "I am an aggressive runner and so is Hazelann. I was just able to edge her in the end. I wanted to win for my mom, Coach Jones, and for my family."

Freshman Richard Adu-Bobie (Orleans, Canada) picked up the first All-America honor of his career by taking third in the 60m with a time of 6.66. His time was a personal best and stands as the fourth-best in school history. His finish moved the Gators into a tie for second with Auburn at 36 points with Arkansas maintaining its lead with 38 points.

Sophomore Mike Morrison (Willingboro, N.J.) finished fourth in the high jump to earn the Gators five points and claim his seventh career All-America honor. Only one participant in the men's high jump finals cleared 2.26m/7-5 with three clearing the previous mark of 2.23/7-3.75, but Morrison finished fourth on misses. His finish brought the Gators into a six-way tie for third place with 20 points after 11 events were scored with Auburn leading with 28 and Arkansas second with 22.

The women tallied 11 points in the first scored event of the day, the weight throw, and moved in to first place for the first time on the day. Aside from Scott's ten point effort, junior All-American Rachel Longfors (Erhard, Minn.) claimed her first All-American honor in the weight throw. Longfors had been ninth entering the finals but saved her best throw of the day for last with a toss of 20.93m/68-08.

Florida also pulled in four points in the 4x400m by placing fifth and clocking the third fastest time in school history with a time of 3:33.20 - an impressive feet considering that the team consisted of three true freshmen in Zanquandria Joseph (Boynton Beach, Fla.), Nadine Palmer (Manchester, Jamaica), and Natalie Knight (Snellville, Ga.). Ponteen anchored the team.

The meet concludes the indoor seasons for both teams with the women next competing at the FSU Relays March 18 and the men taking part in the Florida Relays March 23-26.

Top-Five Team Standings Men
1. Arkansas, 56; 2. Florida, 46; 3. Wisconsin, 43; 4. Auburn, 37; 5. Indiana, 30.

1. Tennessee, 46; 2. Florida, 36; 3. Miami, 32; 4. Nebraska, 29; 5. South Carolina, 28.

NCAA Champions
Kerron Clement - 400m
Tiandra Ponteen - 400m
Candice Scott - Weight Throw
Sekou Clarke, Bernard Middleton, Stefan Pastor, Kerron Clement - 4x400m

Richard Adu-Bobie - 60m
Sekou Clarke - 4x400m
Kerron Clement - 200m
Kerron Clement - 400m
Kerron Clement - 4x400m
Zanquandria Joseph * 4x400m relay
Natalie Knight * 4x400m relay
Bernard Middleton - 4x400m Mike Morrison - High Jump
Mike Morrison - Long Jump
Nadine Palmer * 4x400m relay
Stefan Pastor - 4x400m
Tiandra Ponteen - 400m
Tiandra Ponteen - 4x400m relay
Candice Scott - Shot Put
Candice Scott - Weight Throw
Josh Walker - 60m Hurdles
Liz Wanless - Weight Throw

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