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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Time is running out for the Gators.

This weekend, select members of the UF track and field team will join athletes from around the country as they scramble to secure NCAA automatic qualifying marks.

Known as "Last-chance weekend," this will be the final opportunity for athletes to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 14.

Willie Perry, Liene Karsuma, Eugene Martin and Wondy Pierre-Louis will head back to Fayetteville, Ark., on Friday evening for the Arkansas Last Chance Qualifier.

Martin, a junior from Gainesville, is fresh off the first conference title of his career in the high jump last weekend at the Southeastern Conference Championships.

Perry will look to qualify in the 200-meter dash, while Karsuma and Pierre-Louis will try to post marks in the high jump and long jump, respectively.

Perry, a three-time All-American, was 0.01 seconds away from qualifying for the 200-meter final of the NCAA Indoor Championships last season.

Perry finished ninth overall and is currently ranked No. 21 nationally in the event with a season-best time of 21.15 seconds.

In 2007, 17 athletes were admitted to the national meet with a cutoff time of 21.08 seconds. Perry has an indoor personal best of 20.62 seconds in the event.

Karsuma, a freshman from Latvia, will try to qualify for the national meet for the first time in her college career.

Meanwhile, field athletes Beau Burroughs and Shawneise Williams will head to Blacksburg, Va., for the Virginia Tech Last Chance Meet.

Both Burroughs and Williams enter the weekend after winning the first SEC championships of their careers.

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Burroughs captured the conference title in the shot put with a career-best throw of 18.53 meters. It was the Gators' second-straight conference win in the shot put after junior Wes Stockbarger took the event in 2007.

Williams won gold in the weight throw with a toss of 19.11 meters. The win marked the Gators' seventh all-time SEC crown in the event.

The Gators already have seven NCAA automatic qualifying marks on the season.

The nationally qualified group is headlined by senior sprinter Lakecia Ealey, who will look to bounce back from a frustrating seventh-place finish in the 60-meter dash at last weekend's SEC Championships.

Despite UF's mildly disappointing finish at the conference meet, both the men's and women's teams have moved up in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll. The men are No. 5 this week while the women come in at No. 10.

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