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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Leaders come in two forms: those who are vocal - the Tim Tebows of the world - and those who choose to lead only by their examples.

Heading into split track and field meets, UF's veterans have been the latter, and they look to continue their impressive on-field leadership.

The Gators will send the throwing squad and coach Steve Lemke to Ames, Iowa for the Iowa State Classic. The remainder of the team will head to the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark.

The decision to split the team was a fairly simple one for coach Mike Holloway.

"The Tyson meet, the way it's set up, is not a very good venue for throwing," Holloway said. "We felt like going to Iowa State was a much better venue for the throwers and also some great competition."

In Iowa, junior shot-putter Mariam Kevkhishvili will lead UF's throwers.

Kevkhishvili is not the archetype of a vocal leader, but her on-field performance in the shot put speaks for itself.

Kevkhishvili has thrown NCAA automatic-qualifying distances of 55 feet, 10.5 inches; 56 feet; and 56 feet, 2 inches in the team's three meets this season.

Kevkhishvili is also the recipient of two Southeastern Conference weekly awards but does not focus on these accolades. She believes there is much more left in her.

"I'm still in the weight-lifting program, so I'm not throwing far yet," Kevkhishvili said. "I think I can throw farther. I'm ready for big throws."

Of the group heading to the Tyson Invitational, senior Carlos Phillips hopes to be an example for his teammates by bettering his season-best time of 1:49.86 in the 800-meter run.

"This weekend I'm going to be in one of the faster heats, so I'm trying to go ahead and break my season time," Phillips said. "Hopefully this week I can get an automatic time."

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As a senior, Phillips understands that some of his younger teammates look up to him, and he embraces the role.

"Whether I want to or not, I have to set an example," Phillips said. "On the track, I always do the workouts and never shortcut anything."

This weekend's split meets will be the final events for UF before the SEC Indoor Championships.

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