Jeff Demps finally got a little wet once the race was over and he was standing still.
Until then, the Florida sprinter too fast for the rain and the puddles on Tom Black Track hardly had time to realize he’d been there.
Stormy weather again tried to steal the show at the SEC Track and Field Outdoor Championships on Sunday at LaPorte Stadium, but it was no match for Demps — who turned in a blistering 10.06-second time in the 100-meter dash to help Florida run away with a men’s team title.
“You know, it was pretty rainy out there today, but we can’t let the weather conditions hold us down,” said Demps, who doubles as a running back on Florida’s football team. “We just came out here and competed today. I knew coming into the race this was going to be a tough one, all those guys are great competitors. ’Round about the middle of the race I kind of felt myself pull away, and I kind of knew then that I had it.
“You just try not to lose focus and when you’re running in a race like this, you’ve just got to come out and compete.”
There were plenty of things that could have provided a distraction for the two-sport star for the Gators, starting with a surprising upset for his 400-meter relay team earlier in the afternoon.
Throw in a loaded field, the reappearance of dark rain clouds that soaked Tom Black Track and even a start out of the blocks that Demps admitted could be better and the ingredients for another letdown were all there. Obviously he handled it just fine while turning in the fourth-fastest time in the world this year and getting the Gators back on course to knock off second-place LSU by 24 points.
“The relay (loss) definitely did have an impact on me,” Demps said. “The relay didn’t go how we wanted it to, we got second so hats off to Mississippi State, they came out and ran good. So I knew we definitely could use those 10 points.
“It was an impact for me and for my team. We were aiming to go for this title.”
Eventually the Gators got it, and they couldn’t have got much more from Demps, either.
Though maybe Florida would have preferred some better weather, and for his part, Demps is still looking for something else, as well.
“I still have improvement in my start, in the middle of the race I probably can accelerate a little more,” Demps said. “But you know, I’m totally fine with the performance and I came out with the victory.
“I don’t really have a number in mind right now. I just take it one day at a time.”
Even in the rain, Sunday was a pretty good one.
Waiting Game: For the third consecutive day the weather put the championships on hold. And for the third time, it also chased Shelise Williams out of the blocks.
The Arkansas junior seemed to bring out the worst in Mother Nature over the weekend, with lightning and rain popping up seemingly every time Williams was ready to race for the third-place Razorbacks.
“I told her she could almost become part of the weather service,” Arkansas women’s coach Lance Harter said. “Lightning is coming because every time she steps in the blocks she sets it off.
“(The weather) definitely took a long track meet and made it a marathon. But the kids just never lost focus.”
Williams certainly didn’t, finishing fifth among individuals with 15 points over the weekend. Collectively the Razorbacks had bigger problems than the weather though, and they couldn’t quite reel in LSU or Florida in the team race.
The Tigers pulled away and won by 24.5 points over the Gators, though Williams and her 1,600-meter relay team wrapped up the event with an impressive win over LSU.