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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The UF track and field program did much more than just address its problems this weekend at the Iowa State Classic in Ames, Iowa.

Heading into the meet, UF Coach Mike Holloway pointed to the team's lack of consistency in the 60-meter dash as a major area of concern.

Saturday, the Gators righted the ship.

UF swept the top two spots in the men's event, as sophomore Jeremy Hall finished first with a time of 6.68 seconds and junior Wille Perry tied for second with a time of 6.77 seconds.

"A big thing about track that a lot of people don't understand is that there has to be a trust factor between the athlete and the coach," Holloway said. "Both of those guys are really starting to trust their coaching."

Holloway believes that the meet may have been a turning point for the Gators in the 60-meter event.

"Jeremy has been consistent all year, and Willie is really starting to come back into his own," Holloway said. "He is showing a lot of the same things that he did his freshman year."

Perry was named the Southeastern Conference freshman indoor and outdoor runner of the year in 2006.

On the women's side, Lakecia Ealey continued what is becoming a brilliant senior season, winning the 60-meter dash and breaking her own school record with a time of 7.26 seconds. Saturday marked Ealey's third consecutive win against college competition.

"The thing that Lakecia and I talk about is being consistent and getting a little bit better each week," Holloway said. "I am extremely proud of her work ethic and dedication to being a top-flight sprinter."

Senior Natalie Knight took home the women's 200-meter crown, crossing the finish line with a time of 23.68 seconds.

"Natalie is really starting to trust her training a little bit more. My training model is a lot different from the way that she did things in the past, but I think that she is really starting to trust and believe in what I do," Holloway said. "We are on the same page now."

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UF football cornerback Wondy Pierre-Louis proved that he is a serious track and field competitor, placing third in the long jump with a distance of 7.52 meters. Pierre-Louis earned the first NCAA provisional qualifying mark of his career and moved into eighth place on UF's all-time indoor long jump list.

"For a guy who hasn't long jumped in over two years to come out and place third in a competition like this is a great accomplishment," Holloway said.

The Gators finished in style, capturing first place in the men's 4x400-meter relay. The women also had a strong showing in the event, taking second overall.

"Track and field will always be viewed as an individual sport, but [the relays] are one area where we can really compete in that team concept," Holloway said. "I am extremely proud of both those groups."

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