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Sunday, May 26, 2024

It all comes down to this.

Select members of the UF track and field team will have the opportunity to test themselves against the nation's best Friday at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.

The fifth-ranked men's team saw nine athletes qualify for eight events at the meet.

The Gators will send Beau Burroughs in the shot put, Dennis Martin in the 660-meter hurdles, Willie Perry in the 200-meter dash, Carlos Phillips in the 800-meter dash, Jeremy Hall in the 60-meter dash, Mike Morrison in the heptathlon and Calvin Smith in the 400-meter dash. UF will also be represented in the 4x400-meter relay by Smith, Phillips, Bernard Middleton and R.J. Anderson.

The men were disappointed with their performance in the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships, where they finished fourth.

"We don't feel like we are the fourth best team in the league," Coach Mike Holloway said. "We have to get our better guys performing better at the championship meets."

The Gators are led by the country's No. 1 4x400-meter relay team.

Sophomore Calvin Smith headlines the sprinters on the men's side. Smith is ranked No.2 in the nation in the 400-meter dash and was an All-American in the event a year ago. His automatic qualifying time of 46.04 seconds is tied for the fifth-fastest time in the world this year. If Smith takes home All-American honors again this season, it would make him the third UF athlete to do so in back-to-back seasons and only the second to accomplish the feat in his freshman and sophomore campaigns.

Smith will also run a leg of the 4x400 meter relay.

The No.10 women will be sending seven athletes in seven different events to the championships.

The women's team includes Lakecia Ealey in the 60-meter dash, Natalie Knight in the 200-meter dash, Lorain McKenzie in the 800 meter, Shawaneise Williams in the weight throw, Mariam Kevkhishvili in the shot put, Shara Proctor in the long jump and Liene Karsuma in the high jump.

Ealey, the senior sprinter and team leader and who is a three-time outdoor All-American, will be competing in the NCAA Indoor Championships for the first time. She is ranked 11th in the NCAA in the 60-meter dash. Her automatic qualifying time of 7.26 seconds is a school record in the event.

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"We have a great group of athletes lining up on both sides," Holloway said. "I really believe that if we just go there and do what we have done all year long we will be fine."

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