Mike Holloway

Mike Holloway coached the UF men's and women's track teams to respective second-place and fifth-place finishes at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

Florida needed everything to go right at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Its men needed at least 53 points to complete the three-peat, and its women needed at least 47 to get their first podium finish since 2014.

Both teams came just short of reaching those aspirations as the men took second (42 points) and the women took fifth (42 points) at NCAA Outdoors in Eugene, Oregon.

“Things just didn’t go our way this weekend,” coach Mike Holloway said about his men in an interview after the meet. “We’re still second in the country, and that’s nothing to be upset about.”

Though the team could not complete a task that only three other programs have done since 1975, plenty went well in the individual events.

The men’s competitions featured sophomore Grant Holloway, who appeared in four events at Hayward Field. He finished in the top five in three of them.

His most impressive was a narrow 110-meter hurdles victory in which he leaned over the finish line in 13.42 to beat Illinois junior David Kendziera by one-hundredth of a second.

The second-straight title marked more historical entries for the Chesapeake, Virginia, native.

Holloway is the fourth man to ever repeat as 110-meter hurdles champion and the first since former-Gator Josh Walker accomplished the feat in 2004-05.

With his consecutive indoor 60-meter hurdles titles, Holloway became only the second man in Division I history (South Carolina’s Terrence Trammell in 1999-00) to repeat as champion in both indoor and outdoor high hurdles.

Holloway also ran on Florida’s 4x100 relay team on Friday, which included juniors Michael Timpson Jr. and Ryan Clark and freshman Chantz Sawyers. The third-place finish in the event was the best by a UF 4x100 group since winning consecutive titles in 2013 and 2014.

Later the same day, Holloway joined the 4x400 quartet with Sawyers, junior Kunle Fasasi and freshman Benjamin Lobo Vedel for a fourth-place finish.

The one event in which Holloway did not collect points for the Gators was in the long jump on Wednesday. The No. 2-ranked long jumper in the nation only managed a 7.83 meter-mark for ninth place in the competition.

Junior Anders Eriksson was another key contributor for the Gators this weekend despite competing in just the men’s hammer throw.
Eriksson collected eight points for his team in the best NCAA finish of his career.

He sat in seventh place entering his final attempt of the competition, but with three swifts spins of his body, he threw for 73.76 meters to boost himself into second place. His silver medal tied Jeremy Postin (2012) for the best finish in Florida history.

Eriksson’s come-from-behind performance, in addition to a seventh-place personal-record finish by freshman Thomas Mardal and an eighth-place PR for redshirt junior AJ McFarland, made them the sixth trio of hammer throwers to score at NCAA Outdoors since 1966.

Despite just missing the podium for the second-straight season, the women got six top-five performances throughout the meet.

Among the most notable were junior Yanis David’s runner-up finish in the triple jump, senior Darrielle McQueen’s silver medal in the long jump and junior Sharrika Barnett’s fourth-place spot in the 400-meter race.

But two surprising performances came from a pair of freshmen in their first appearances at NCAA Outdoors.

Amanda Froeynes entered Saturday in the No. 17 spot in the heptathlon after finishing 23rd in the 100-meter hurdles and 20th in the 200-meter on Friday.

She recorded a throw of 44.63 meters in the javelin for second and completed the 800-meter with a third-place run to lift herself to fifth overall in the heptathlon.

It was the second-highest heptathlon finish in school history (Heidi Mann in 1987), and she joined Kansas State’s Nina Schultz and Georgia’s Kendell Williams as the only other freshmen to score in the event in the last five NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Froeynes’ score of 5,794 was also a personal best that put her at the No. 2 spot on Florida’s All-Time Top 10 list.

Nikki Stephens spent the first half of her career competing alongside Froeynes in the heptathlon. Halfway into the season, she transitioned to the 400-meter hurdles.

On Saturday, she became the first Gator to finish sixth or better in the 400 hurdles since Ugonna Ndu (fifth) in 2013.

Stephens later joined Barnett, freshman Taylor Manson and senior Taylor Sharpe in the 4x400 relay and helped the team to fifth in that race.

“When you look at our team across the board … the future is very bright for us,” Holloway said about the women.

 

You can follow Alanis Thames on Twitter @alanisthames or contact her at [email protected].