The men’s track and field team fell just short of earning its third straight national outdoor championship after finishing in second to Oregon.
When the NCAA Championships ended Saturday, the Ducks finished the competition with 88 points compared to the Gators’ 70.
On the women’s side, Florida finished fourth overall (55 points) behind eventual national champion Texas A&M (75), Texas (66) and Oregon (59).
However, each team still earned individual titles over the weekend. The men finished first in the long jump, triple jump, 200m sprint and 4x100 relay.
The women earned a national title in the javelin competition behind Fawn Miller’s performance (58.13m/190-8).
“We just got beat by a better team and same thing as far as the overall team standings,” coach Mike Holloway said. “We scored 70 points, we just got beat by a phenomenal Oregon team and we’ll be back to fight them again next year.”
The Oregon track squad was the unit that ended a potential three-peat for the men during outdoor competition, and repeated as indoor and outdoor national champions.
Oregon is the program that will stand in Florida’s way for years to come. The Ducks had more qualifiers in specific events that the Gators didn’t and that hurt UF because Oregon would gain more points expanding the deficit.
Florida has multiple Southeastern Conference and national individual champions in both the indoor and outdoor seasons with the men and women.
The women’s team has steadily increased its ability to be a contender in not just running events, but on the field too.
Throughout their 2014 campaign the nation witnessed a top-ranked team on both sides many times.
Although rankings don’t matter at the end of the day and from the words of Holloway, the only ranking that matters is the one at the end of the season.
“Some things didn’t go our way, but we can’t talk about that. What we have to talk about is we’re on this — we were third indoors, fourth (women) outdoors,” Holloway said.
“Now we have to be a trophy team every year. That has to be our goal, to come in here and be a part of the conversation about being a national championship team and I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
The women’s team is up and rising and the men will only lose two seniors who have stamped their name on the track and field program at Florida.
The team will lose Cory McGee who has won numerous awards as a Gator throughout her four-year career and Ebony Eutsey who meant a lot to the team’s sprinting unit.
The void to fill on the men’s side would be Eddie Lovett, who is the only athlete to four-peat in the 60-meter hurdles in the SEC, and Sean Obinwa who was a skilled mentor to the 800-meter crew, which has much talent moving ahead.
With senior leaders leaving their legacy at Florida, the team certainly still has plenty of talent.
The men’s squad still has arguably their best jumper when his time at Florida is done in Marquis Dendy, who was the first since 2002 to be a double national champion in the long jump and triple jump.
If not best in the nation one of the best 4x4 relay squads in Najee Glass, Hugh Graham Jr., Dedric Dukes and Arman Hall.
That relay squad at one point in the season at Florida Relays held the world-leading time in the 4x4, and Dedric Dukes owned the 200-meter run with the world-leading time as well.
“I’m very proud of my group, very proud of what they accomplished all year long,” Holloway said. “I’m excited about getting back to work.”
Follow Lawrence Laguna on Twitter @LagunaLawrence