WRUF Profiles

Santiago Gavino Ready to Take on Challenges of New Florida Golf Season

By on October 4th, 2013

Jim Burgess / Gatorzone

Santiago Gavino

When it comes to athletic prominence, golf in Mexico does not have the long nor storied history of other national pastimes like soccer and boxing. But to University of Florida redshirt junior Santiago Gavino, the desire to compete on the course was instilled not long after birth.

Born and raised in the north-central city of San Luis Potosi, Gavino followed in the footsteps of both his father and Mexican idol Lorena Ochoa, taking up the game at the age of 5 years old. Nestled in the mountainous terrain a short distance from his childhood home are two of the premier courses in the region: La Loma, designed by PGA legend Jack Nicklaus, and the San Luis Country Club. The two courses provided the upstart golfer the perfect locations to hone his craft.

Two years into his high school career, Gavino transitioned to the United States, settling in Austin, Texas, at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy. Although the move north of the border created some challenges, the change of scenery was met with optimism.

“It was a little difficult, but living in Texas for a couple of years made it easier,” Gavino said. “I knew English pretty well, so that was not too bad. I missed family and friends like everybody else, but you make your new life when you come here.”

Playing in America while still residing close to his homeland opened new doors for the budding star. In 2009, Gavino tied for fourth place at the Mexican Amateur Tournament and earned a second place finish with Mexico at the Toyota Junior World Team Championship.

After graduating from St. Michael’s in 2010, Gavino headed even further away from home, arriving at Florida in fall of that same year. To some, a redshirt season comes as a disappointment, but Gavino admits spending the 2010-2011 season out of competition was good for his development as a player.

“When I got here, I wasn’t playing at my best,” he recalls. “It helped me to practice more, to get a little more into it, and feel comfortable for the years to come.”

The time spent refining his technique and settling into the Gator golf program was beneficial. After spending another season outside the tee box, Gavino saw action in four tournaments for UF in 2012-2013. His inaugural campaign was highlighted by a team leading 67 at the SunTrust Gator Invitational, the lowest score posted by a Gator all season, and a fourth place finish at The Invitational at Kiawah, scoring 222 overall for the tournament at the acclaimed Ocean Course.

A sixth place finish at the 2013 US Open Local Qualifier started the year in impressive fashion, and for the 2013-2014 collegiate season, Gavino believes he is poised for a breakout.

“My major goal is to win a tournament individually. Hopefully I get a win this year. As a team, I think we have a chance to win a couple of tournaments,” said Gavino. “I’m feeling good about my game.”

As golf’s popularity continues to rise in Mexico and the southwestern United States, and with 2013-2014 brimming with opportunities to surge to the top and achieve a lifelong goal of playing professionally, Santiago Gavino’s potential in the southeast continues to grow.

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Frazier finds a Second Family on Florida’s Gymnastics Team

By on October 4th, 2013
Morgan Frazier

Missy Perez / WRUF

Morgan Frazier

University of Florida gymnast Morgan Frazier left her hometown of Orlando in December of 2012 to start training with the UF gymnastics team. Only 17 when she enrolled at UF, college was a big change for her.

“It’s definitely not like high school. Everything is much faster—it took me awhile to get used to it, but now I feel pretty confident in it,” said Frazier.

Frazier, however, took no time getting comfortable with her new team.

“I love being on a team where everyone just loves each other. We’re just one giant family, and the coaches are amazing—I just love everything,” said Frazier.

A Florida native, Frazier dreamed of coming to the University of Florida since she was young. Now as an athlete for Florida, she is still excited to run out of the Gator head for competitions or doing the Gator chomp during floor routines.

When asked what she is most proud of so far in her gymnastics career, Frazier did not even hesitate.

“Receiving a scholarship to Florida, I’m definitely most proud of that,” said Frazier. “I absolutely love being a Gator.”

However, Frazier will not let her past accomplishments stand in the way of her goals, as she looks forward to the rest of her time as a University of Florida gymnast.

“My number one goal is to help my team win another SEC championship,” said Frazier. “Actually, forget that; it is to win another national championship.”

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Nora Barry looks to lead Gators lacrosse both on and off the field

By on October 2nd, 2013

Brandon Spierto / WRUF

Nora Barry

For most 18 year-old high school recruits, making the decision to attend school over 1,000 miles away from home can be extremely difficult. But for Florida lacrosse midfielder Nora Barry, it was easy.

“Florida was my first visit,” said Barry. “And ultimately none of the other visits really compared.”

Barry, now entering her junior season, grew up just 15 miles outside of Syracuse in Marcellus, New York. She starred at Marcellus High School, racking up 261 career goals on her way to being named a two-time US Lacrosse All-American. By her senior year, Barry was being heavily recruited by nearly every major lacrosse program in the country.

“I considered a lot of schools and my parents were really nice and helpful in taking me around the country to see what school was the best fit for me,” said Barry. “I think with Florida it was just the coaches and the fact that the school put so much into their sports programs. This facility had just been built, and at that time it was the only facility in the country built just for women’s lacrosse. So I could tell right off the bat this was going to be a good program.”

Barry became in an instant contributor the moment she stepped on campus, starting all 22 games at midfield her freshman year. She was named the American Lacrosse Conference’s Rookie of the Year after a season in which she tallied 40 goals and set a new UF school record for ground balls with 48.

Barry’s success continued into her sophomore season, scoring 26 goals and playing a key role in the Gators’ third straight regular season conference title.

Florida lost twelve seniors off that team, however, leaving the Gators with only six upperclassmen on the roster heading into this season. Barry said it will be tough to replace those seniors, but she is doing her best this off-season to take more of a leadership role.

“Just knowing that there are only six of us and almost 30 underclassmen, I think we’re all trying hard to set a good example,” said Barry.

While she’s focused on becoming more of a leader off the field, Barry has worked on her versatility on the field this as well.

“I’m trying to improve on being more versatile offensively,” said Barry. “I want to be able to shoot from anywhere, not just dodging from up top and taking shots from the typical midfield position. Defensively, I’m just trying to play stronger and work on keeping people out.”

Barry’s goal for the team this year is to capture the program’s first ever national championship. And while she’s pegged by many as one of the top midfielders in the conference heading into this season, her individual goals this year have nothing to do with scoring goals or setting records.

“I just want to be the best leader I can on the field, and set a good example off of it,” she said.

The Gators hope the younger players will follow Barry’s example as they continue to prepare for their upcoming season. Florida will begin their 2014 campaign on February 14 against the defending national champion North Carolina Tar Heels.

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Lauren Rose: A Gator Since Birth

By on October 2nd, 2013

Courtney McKenna / WRUF

Lauren Rose

For Lauren Rose, becoming part of the Gator Nation was important to her even before she joined the University of Florida Gymnastics team.

Rose, a senior at the University of Florida, had a passion for the Gators growing up. Several of her family members attended Florida, and her dad became a converted fan after marring Rose’s mother, a Gator alumna. Rose wanted to share her family’s deep bond with the school.

“I’ve always wanted to come here because my mom came here and my uncle came here and we would always come to the gymnastics meets when I was really little and it was just my dream,” said Rose. “It feels really good to know that we are all true Gators.”

When asked what her greatest life achievement was thus far, Rose talked about her two passions: the Gators and gymnastics.

“Being accepted to come to Florida for gymnastics and also level 10 nationals [for competitive gymnastics],” said Rose.

For gymnasts of Lauren Rose’s caliber, gymnastics becomes a part of life at an early age. Rose began going to classes at the age of three and began competing around the age of seven.

Rose has spent countless hours in the gym immersing herself into gymnastics. Even with the demands of the sport, Rose never doubted her passion and drive to succeed in gymnastics.

“I just love it. The feeling of learning a new skill or catching your first release move feels too good to give up,” said Rose. “It is going to be sad when I am done with gymnastics.”

Coming off of a 2013 Gator National Championship win, Rose is excited to start a new gymnastics season and senior year, and motivated to win another championship.

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Florida cross-country star Jimmy Clark runs unexpected path

By on September 27th, 2013

Kelly Price / WRUF

Jimmy Clark

Gators men’s cross-country runner Jimmy Clark never really liked running. From about age 4 until his high school sophomore year, soccer was his passion.

Then came a piece of paper in the mail, offering him a scholarship. Clark said that moment threw “everything else out the window.”

His first college letter wasn’t from a school with a men’s soccer team. It came from the University of Florida cross-country program.

“I actually hated the Gators when I was growing up,” Clark said. “But when I got my first recruiting letters from here, a lot changed.”

One morning, Clark said he raced in Jacksonville, then hustled into the family car to drive four hours to Tampa for a soccer tournament. The day was so hurried he had to change on the field into cleats and soccer gear.

That day, he returned to his Jacksonville home to the letter from Gainesville.

“I got that first letter and that was really my first wake-up call that I think I’m going to have to stop playing soccer because my future is in running,” he said.

His cross-country coach at Creekside High, Eric Frank, forced Clark to run. Ask anyone, Clark said; soccer was his thing.

“The amount of times (coaches) had to convince me to stay out and actually run is surprising to a lot of people,” he said. “I just didn’t want to do it.”

After Frank threw Clark into a three-times-weekly running schedule, Clark made the state meet as a sophomore. He shattered the Class 3A 5K record with 14:58.47 in 2010. The next month, he posted 15:24 for seventh place in the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in San Diego. He was named Gatorade Florida Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year in 2011.

Somewhere along the line, running became his priority and passion.

When he enrolled at UF, Clark said it took him about a year and a half to adjust to college life.

“When you come out of high school as one of the best in the state or one of the best in the nation, you’re on top,” he said. “And when you come in here, you get humbled. You’re not at the top of the totem poll anymore.”

But he kept grinding, ending his first collegiate season as SEC Men’s Freshman Runner of the Year.

Now a junior, Clark has revamped his diet and training regime. He ran a career-best 23:53.78 in an 8K Sept. 14 at the Mountain Dew Invite at UF’s Mark Bostick Golf Course and was recognized as the Southeastern Conference Men’s runner of the week – and that’s just within the first month of the cross-country season.

Every morning, his alarm wakes him at 5:30 for 6 a.m. practice, classes, more practice and more class. Most days, he said he wants to just eat and go to bed by the end of the day. But, Clark said, there’s nowhere other than Gainesville he’d rather be.

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Gator Soccer’s Caroline Triglia: All in the Family

By on September 27th, 2013

Jimena Panduro/WRUF

Caroline Triglia accompanied by her parents (both UF alumni) following Florida’s 2-0 win over Minnesota.

Florida Gators senior midfielder Caroline Triglia’s parents were not fans of their children staying inside the house for too long.

“My parents used to basically lock us outside until dinner was ready,” Triglia said. “We played every sport growing up. We’d spend every Saturday at the soccer fields, baseball, basketball, whatever season it was, all of us played, and they kept us active. I really do appreciate that, and that’s what I hope to do later (with my kids) as well.”

Before sports took over much of the four siblings’ afternoons as teens, mornings would start with dad, and a mile run. After the invigorating start to the morning, mom rewarded the family with a big homemade breakfast.

Mom is Cissie Donigan Triglia, a member of the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame who earned tennis All-America honors in 1981.

But Caroline, unlike her mom, decided to pick up a pair of cleats instead of a racquet. Although Caroline is not sure why she chose soccer, she couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

“It’s always been part of me, it’s who I am. And it’s also fun to play and to win. When you’re competitive, when you have the chance to be in those situations, you just enjoy it,” said Triglia.

Caroline’s competitiveness was on full display during the 2010 regular season finale.

Florida was at 20th-ranked South Carolina in a match to determine the SEC regular season champion. Florida won the match 1-0 to claim the SEC crown. But it was one key play that led to the deciding goal that made the difference.

With just about eight seconds to go in the first half, a Florida player was fouled outside the 18-yard box. A free kick was awarded but there was a delay getting the ball into play because a South Carolina player was positioned within 10 yards of the ball.

Then-freshman Caroline Triglia would have none of that.

“There were 10 seconds left or something and we were trying to take a free kick and the girl (from South Carolina) wouldn’t move,” Triglia said. “So I tried to play the ball but since she was standing too close, I started yelling to the ref to ‘make her move!’ but she wasn’t so the ref just blew the whistle and stopped the clock (with two seconds to go) and allowed us to take the kick. And then Nicky (Kit) scored.”

Although it doesn’t register on a box score, Triglia provided Florida with a crucial assist that day.

Now, about four years after that fateful game, Caroline is seeing her career winding down.

“Time has really flown by,” said Triglia. “Sports have been my life since I was a kid; it’s like I blinked and now I’m a senior.”

After graduating Florida, Caroline plans to put her soccer playing days mostly behind her and focus her attention in another direction.

“I’m sure I’ll play, but I’m not trying to play professionally. After this I want to try and intern at UCLA in their weight room with their Strength and Conditioning department. I want to be a strength coach. I’ve always wanted to go out there (to L.A.), so this is my chance and I’m going to try and take it,” Triglia said.

As the Gators get ready to open up SEC play soon, Caroline Triglia’s contributions are no longer intangible. She is very much involved in every game she plays, and with her parents support, she hopes to once again be an SEC champion and a national champion as well.

After more than 60 games played, more than 1,681 minutes logged on the field and four goals scored, Caroline Triglia is getting ready to complete her final lap. Her teammates can be sure of one thing when it comes to this Jacksonville native, she will compete. After all, it’s a trait honed by the Triglia family.

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UF Lacrosse’s Cara Canington: A Life In Between the Posts

By on September 26th, 2013

Zak Dahlheimer / WRUF

Cara Canington

A new era began in 2010 for Florida Gator athletics as UF lacrosse kicked off its first season. And in the goal that first year representing the Gators was freshman Cara Canington from Bel Air, Maryland. Now a redshirt senior about to graduate with a degree in sports management, she’s the lone remaining member of the founding team.

“You know it’s kind of a surreal feeling. I was just really blessed and thankful for the opportunity to be able to be a part of that, and to not take it for granted,” said Canington. “I really appreciated those times I had freshman year, it was fantastic.”

College sports flow through Cannington’s blood. Her older brother played football at Furman and her father played football at Vanderbilt. In fact her jersey number, 25, was her father’s number when he played for the Commodores.

“Growing up, sports was always a part of the household. We were a sports family,” said Canington.

She started playing field hockey and lacrosse growing up. After playing multiple positions in lacrosse, she settled on goalkeeper.

“I just really wanted to try goalie. I wanted to be like my brother, put that helmet on, and play kind of the football style,” said Canington. “I finally tried the goalkeeping position and I fell in love and haven’t looked back since.”

At C. Milton Wright High School, she played 4 years on the Varsity team, made it to 2 regional championships, was a 2-year captain, and was team MVP for 3 seasons from 2007-2009. Canington was also named to Inside Lacrosse Magazine’s 2008 Rising Senior Watch List.

After visiting Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins, Virginia Tech, and Duke, Canington found that “warm and fuzzy feeling” she was looking for at Florida during her visit with Coach Amanda O’Leary.

“I looked at a dirt field and Mandee (O’Leary) said, ‘Well here it is. Buy into a dream.’ And there was something about that I thought, ‘Yes. I want to buy into this.’ This is for me,” said Canington.

Canington went on to have a successful freshman season in 2010, ranking 26th in the nation and finishing third among freshmen in goals against average with 9.74, 126 saves, and a .438 save percentage. During her sophomore campaign, she saw action in five games as backup goalie while recovering from a broken finger injury. Canington bounced back in 2012, making 11 appearances and notching a 3-0 record as a starter during her junior season.

Following her junior year, Canington redshirted for the 2013 season. She humbly said redshirting last season really helped her focus on her personal game.

“I just think it was a really good year to kind of focus on me, not saying that I’m not focusing on the team because I really want us to do well, but it was a good year for me to just reflect and get better on a personal level,” said Canington.

When the Gators are not in season, Coach O’Leary keeps the team busy. The team’s training focuses on footwork and hand-eye coordination.

“As a goalie, you have to have a quick first step and really quick feet. So we’re out here doing ladder drills and jumping rope, snatching a ball from the air, dropping a ball to the ground and just constantly driving your hand out. It’s a good time,” said Canington.

After going to three straight American Lacrosse Conference championships, winning both an ALC regular-season and tournament title in 2012, numerous NCAA tournament appearances, and winning multiple Honor Roll awards, Canington has high expectations, both for herself and the team.

“I’m looking for us to win an ALC title, to make the tournament, and go far,” said Canington. “I expect nothing less because we’ve built a great tradition here. We have the formula so we just need to continue to work hard.”

The Gators will look to use that formula to try and achieve success in 2014. And for Canington, she’ll look to cap off her career on a high note as the 2014 season marks the beginning of a new era.

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Freshman Meggie Dougherty Howard: Making her Mark for the Florida Gators

By on September 23rd, 2013

Bonnie Mott / WRUF

Meggie Dougherty Howard

At the age of 4, Meggie Dougherty Howard played her first soccer game and fell in love with the  sport. Since then she has dreamed of playing soccer at the collegiate level.

That dream came true for Gators freshman Midfielder this season and she takes pride in wearing orange and blue for the Florida Gators.

“It’s so exciting, and such a great experience. I have so much to  look forward to and I can’t wait to work really hard and play great,” said Dougherty Howard. “I’m so thankful to play for the Florida Gators, it truly is an incredible opportunity.”

Before Dougherty Howard debuted at Florida, she was an all- Pinellas County first team selection in 2013 by the Tampa Bay Times and captain of her high school soccer team at St. Petersburg Catholic High School- where her team reached the 2013 Florida High School Athletic Association Class 2A regional final. In addition, she participated in Elite Clubs National League and US Club Soccer 2012 ENCL/id2 National Training Camp at Nike World Headquarters.

Having accomplished so much at a young age makes Dougherty Howard determined to make her mark at the University of Florida, which is precisely what she is doing.

In fact, the young midfielder has played in all 9 of the Gators first games, which is rare for most freshmen, and says she is only getting started. “I just want to get better, learn a lot, and help the team in a positive way,” said Dougherty Howard. “My goal is to be the very best that I can be, so that is what I’m striving to do.”

In September of 2013, Dougherty Howard scored her first career goal for the Gators against Florida International, which gave Florida a 4-0 win.

“It was really exciting and such a great experience – definitely a moment I will never forget,” said Dougherty Howard. “I’ve been working really hard and I’m just hoping that I can continue to improve.”

Dougherty Howard wears her motivation to improve with the number 28 jersey for the Gators.

Initially, she chose number 28 for her mom.  But, with a little help from Gator nation, it didn’t take long for Dougherty Howard to discover she wears the same number professional soccer player, two time gold medalist, and the 2012 FIFA World Player of the year, Abby Wambach wore while playing for the Gators.

“I wasn’t even aware when I picked it. I actually picked the number because it’s my mom’s birthday and she has been really influential and supportive of me throughout soccer. But I’m just so honored to have the same number as Abby,” said Dougherty Howard. “I know that I have big shoes to fill, obviously. So I hope that I can just show respect to Abby and just play really well and live up to her standards.”

With three more years of collegiate play, she has plenty of time. For now though, Dougherty Howard is working toward a business degree, and hopeful of one day playing professional soccer.

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Taylor Brauneis: Setting Her Way to a Title

By on September 22nd, 2013

John McLaughlin / Alligator

Taylor Brauneis

The Florida Gators volleyball team has high hopes for their 2013 season as they look to capture their first national championship. No player is more important for those title hopes than starting setter, senior Taylor Brauneis.

Brauneis has already had an incredible college career. She was named 2nd and 1st team All-Big East in her first two seasons at the University of Louisville, respectively, and then named 1st team All-SEC with an SEC leading 11.65 assists/set last year after transferring to the University of Florida in 2012. Even with those honors, she hopes to add “national champion” to her list of accomplishments prior to graduating.

Brauneis chose to attend the University of Louisville over offers from Northwestern, Illinois, and Penn State. After the 2011 season, however, Brauneis announced she planned to transfer from Louisville and eventually settled at the University of Florida.

“Things at Louisville just weren’t really working out. I wanted to play for a program that would be ranked top 25 and had a chance to win championships. I feel like I had that chance here (at UF),” said Brauneis.

After a successful junior season in 2012, that included an SEC championship, Brauneis and the Gators are poised to make a run for the national championship. The Gators have already had a tough slate of non-conference matches against #1 Penn State and then #2 Stanford in the Nike Big 4 Tournament at the beginning of September. The Gators beat Stanford, with the help of an incredible 50 sets by Brauneis, and then followed up with a loss to Penn State the next day. Brauneis believes those two matches in particular were season defining moments for the team.

“When you play two great teams like Stanford and Penn State and actually show that you can compete with them, it gives us a lot of confidence as a team that we can and will fight with the big dogs for that championship,” said Brauneis.

The Gators have a top ranking in the polls, but Brauneis dismissed the significance.

“It’s great that people are recognizing and ranking us so high, but it’s still way too early to get caught up in those (rankings),” said Brauneis.

Instead, Brauneis believes if the Gators “take care of business,” they’ll be right in the thick of the national title race at season’s end.

Hopes are high for Brauneis and the Gators as they strive to become the first national champions in Florida Volleyball history

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Gators Gymnast Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto is right where she belongs.

By on May 3rd, 2013
Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto
Credit: Bobby Scheppske

Gainesville may be far away from Montreal, Quebec, but Freshman Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto feels right at home at the University of Florida. The Canadian gymnast came to Florida as part of the number one ranked freshman class in the country, but before last year she never realized she could compete as a college gymnast.

“In Canada we don’t train to go to college, we train to go to regionals. While here in the United States they train to go to College. I didn’t even know college gymnastics existed before last year,” said Dancose-Giambattisto.

When Dancose-Giambattisto was choosing which college to attend, what she liked about the University of Florida  was how the gymnastics squad felt like more than just a team.

“Here it’s really like a family. I know it sound’s cliché, but it’s really true. Here every single one of us treats each other like a sister,” said Dancose-Giambattisto.

Competing at the University of Florida won’t be the only time Dancose-Giambattisto will be put in the spotlight. She has already been on the national stage while particpating with the Canadian National Team during their silver medal run in the Pan American Games, and when she placed first in uneven bars and third overall during the 2011 Canadian Championships.

Now Dancose-Giambattisto prepares for meets every week, but believes she has already adapted to collegiate play.

“It wasn’t a hard adjustment, but different. We are used to training months for one event, but now it’s every single week,” explained Dancose-Giambattisto.

Unfortunately, Dancose-Giambattisto hasn’t seen much action in her first year as she has been recovering from a Lisfranc fracture, an injury to the foot, which she suffered during 2012′s Olympic Trials. To compensate for the injury, she has been working on different apparatuses which are less intensive on her foot and believes  she will be ready to make an impact soon.

“I’m going to stay here for the whole summer and will work really hard on my foot,” said Dancose-Giambattisto. “Hopefully, I come back next year fully recovered.”

Once Dancose-Giambattisto recuperates, she will make the highly touted Florida gymnastics team that much better.

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