Larry Vettel's Women's Sports Weekly

In the immortal words of Slim Pickens in the movie Blazing Saddles, "What in the wide, wide, world of sports is a goin' on here?" The Florida women's track program, long a source of pride for UF with consistent high national finishes, is in the midst of a staggering conspiracy.

Florida dismissed throws coach Larry Judge, and Florida All-Americans Candice Scott and Liz Wanless have left the team in protest. While we are told that Judge "resigned" and the two athletes left to concentrate on preparations for the World Championships, that doesn't change the reality.

As someone who spent 17 years developing prospective sportscasters at UF one quality I tried to instill in "my guys" was loyalty. Over time I found those who understood the concept did better in the long. Loyalty is a quality many I've worked with through the years have no understanding of, and that's a shame. That said, while I respect the loyalty Candice Scott and Liz Wanless feel towards their former coach it is seriously misplaced. In showing loyalty towards him they are showing none towards Head Coach Tom Jones or their teammates. Years from now they'll regret walking out on their team before the two biggest meets of the year. Years from now will the greatest women's track star in school history get elected into the UF Athletic Hall of Fame? I doubt it.

As is typically the case, UF is being very close-mouthed about the issues surrounding the need to make a change so late in the season. But common sense says there have to be some very serious issues for the powers that be to feel a change had to be made immediately. Tom Jones has been heading up the UF women's program for 13 years and is a first-class guy but this situation has to be eating him up.

The problems couldn't come at a worse time. Florida heads to Nashville this weekend for the SEC Championships, and NCAA Regionals are just two more weeks down the line. For the Gators to enter these competitions under such a gigantic cloud puts into serious question whether Florida will have the talent, depth and focus needed to post a ninth-straight top five finish at SEC's this weekend.

Florida still has some very talented competitors ready to give it their best shot including sprinters Nadine Palmer, Natalie Knight and Tiandra Ponteen, high jumper Krystle Moss and discus thrower Rachel Longfors. Florida has several pole vaulters who are qualified for NCAA Regionals and the Gators' relay teams will have to come up big as well.

Women's Tennis Begins NCAA March

Roland Thornqvist's tennis squad will try to put last year's NCAA failure in the rear window for good this weekend. Florida hosts a regional tournament, taking on South Carolina State and then the winner of Florida State and Florida International. The Gator women have never faced S.C. State but should sweep that match blindfolded. As for round two, (the round that shocked UF last year when Miami eliminated the unbeaten Gators), Florida has every reason to be confident. Florida beat FIU 5-0 earlier this year and knocked off FSU 6-1. The Gators have never lost to either school, owning a 45-and-0 mark against the Seminoles while having defeated FIU in all four previous get-togethers.

The NCAA was obviously impressed with the caliber of play in the SEC this year. Ten SEC schools were chosen for the national tournament including five of the top 16 seeds. (Fla. #2, Ky. # 3, Vandy # 4, Ga. # 8, Tenn. # 16)

The SEC might consider eliminating divisional play however. The SEC East played 36 matches against SEC West teams. The East won 33 of the 36! That's a joke! South Carolina was 6-5 overall (0-5 vs. East teams) and that put the Gamecocks dead last in the division. Meanwhile Ole Miss and Mississippi State shared the Western Division title at 5-6.

Wondering which teams did not get in? Arkansas and Auburn were left out after combining to go 1-21 in SEC matches. Arkansas beat Auburn in the battle for the # 1 draft pick.

Softball Needs Good Weekend, Crowds

The Florida softball team takes a five-game winning streak into its Thursday matchup with Tennessee in the SEC Softball Tournament. Florida ended up the #5 seed in the SEC and needs a solid weekend to strengthen its credentials as a potential NCAA Regional host. And it wouldn't hurt if big crowds in Gainesville show support for fast pitch action either.

Florida's late surge followed a seven-game losing streak and coincided with the return of Lindsey Cameron to the lineup. That and getting to face Kentucky the final weekend.

Congrats to Florida senior Mandy Schuerman for being chosen the SEC player of the week. Schuerman had a superb week, ripping eight hits with six runs batted in. She also posted a pair of wins in the circle.

The team has several individuals with a chance to enter the Gator record books in the games ahead. Here's a list:

Lindsey Cameron 13 HR Single season record 15 (Emily Marino '00)

Lindsey Cameron 26 HR Career record 28 (Emily Marino '98-'01)

Lindsey Cameron .396 avg. Career record .355 (Ashley Boone '99)

Melissa Zick 16 2B Single season record 20 (Ashley Boone '01)

Melissa Zick 45 Runs Single season record 49 (Jennifer Lutsi '00)

Stacie Pestrak 19 SB Single season record 23 (2X)


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