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Sunday, March 03, 2024

Sometimes even your best just isn't good enough.

After entering the final day of the Southeastern Conference Championships with an 18-point lead over Arkansas, the UF women's track and field team was unable to hold on to win the team title.

The No.13 women finished the weekend in second place, despite having three individual wins on the final day of competition.

LSU won the title by posting 131 points on the final day.

"They came in here with the goal of winning the meet, and even though we were beaten by a better team, they performed admirably," UF coach Mike Holloway said. .

The men, who were ranked No.3 nationally heading into the weekend, didn't fair much better. Despite being the favorite, and the highest ranked SEC team at the start of the meet, the Gators were only able to race their way to a fourth-place finish in the team standings.

The best performance of the meet on the men's side came from the 4x400 meter relay team whose season best time of 3:04.75 was less than two tenths of a second behind champion Kentucky.

"The 4x400 meter relay is definitely setting itself up for a solid postseason, and they've set some high goals for themselves heading into the national meet," Holloway said.

One of the few bright spots for the Gators was the performance of senior Natalie Knight.

Knight won the first SEC title in the 200-meter dash in program history.

Her time of 22.84 seconds was not only a personal best, but it tied the 12-year-old school record set by Kisha Jett.

"With all of the All-Americans and decorated sprinters that have come out of this program over the years, for Natalie to be the first SEC 200-meter champion is a tremendous honor," Holloway said.

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Sophomore Shara Procter won the program's first SEC title in the triple jump in 16 years.

Her leap of 13.66 meters was a school record.

"Shara was just awesome today. She considers herself more of a long jumper than a triple jumper, so for her to come out and win that like was very exciting," assistant coach Rana Reider said.

Freshman Rebecca Lowe added a win of her own, taking home first place in the 5,000- meter with a time of 16:22.33.

Junior Eugene Martin's leap of 2.10 meters earned him a second-place finish in the men's high jump. Martin won the event earlier this season at the SEC Indoor Championships.

Wes Stockbarger, the defending conference champion in the shot put, was unable to defend his crown.

His toss of 18.46 meters left him in second place and was 1.85 meters behind champion Cory Martin of Auburn.

The men finished the weekend without a single conference champion, something that seemed unlikely heading into the meet.

"Coming into the meet, the men hoped to be higher than fourth," Holloway said. "The bottom line, though, is that, as a team, we have to get stronger, deeper and tougher as we prepare for regionals in about two weeks."

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