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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

UF came up short again.

For the second time in the four years since their Southeastern Conference Indoor Championship win in 2004, UF's men finished the three-day competition in second place behind Arkansas.

The Gators women finished fourth behind Tennessee, LSU and Arkansas.

Despite not leaving Kentucky as overall SEC champions, UF brought home five SEC titles.

Freshman Christian Taylor led UF by claiming two individual SEC titles in the long jump and the triple jump.

Taylor leaped 25 feet, 3.50 inches to capture the long jump, and his leap of 52 feet, 10.25 inches in the triple jump earned him an automatic-qualifying spot for the NCAA Championships.

"I thought Christian did a phenomenal job. Christian is a great competitor," coach Mike Holloway said. "If the rest of the team would learn to match his enthusiasm, I think we'll be OK."

UF's men took home another SEC title in the 4x400-meter relay. The team, led by Taylor, won the event in 3:05.82, their season best.

"It was a great competition," Holloway said. "South Carolina and Kentucky were both very active in the race, and (junior) Calvin (Smith) did a great job bringing us from second to first in the anchor leg."

In the 60-meter hurdles, three athletes finished in the top 10 for UF.

Dennis Martin (7.86) and William Wynne (7.89) finished third and fourth, respectively, with NCAA provisional-qualifying times. Senior Kallinka Pitt took eighth in 7.93 seconds.

Smith ran a 46.23-second 400-meter dash to take second in the men's 400-meter dash.

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In the same event, Smith's teammates R.J. Anderson and William Wynne finished sixth and ninth, respectively.

In the 60-meter dash, Jeremy Hall finished fifth with a NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 6.69, and Terrell Wilks finished seventh in 6.72, also a provisional-qualifying time.

Senior Carlos Phillips, sophomore LaMarr Davis and junior Ethan Philpot were fourth, fifth and eighth, respectively, in the 800-meter run.

Junior Justin Taylor took sixth place in the 1-mile run in 4:07.78 and was a part of the fourth-place distance medley relay team (9:52.81).

Freshman Gray Horn continued his outstanding heptathlon performance and finished second with 5,586 total points.

Other top performances for the men came in field events.

Kemal Mesic's throw of 59 feet, 6.75 inches in the shot put landed him in third place while Beau Burroughs took sixth with a toss of 58 feet, 11.25 inches.

Freshman Frankie Hammond finished third in the high jump at 6 feet, 11.00 inches.

Justin Semeyn also turned in a good performance for UF. He finished seventh in the men's pole vault at 16 feet, 4.75 inches.

On the women's side, UF finished fourth overall and claimed two SEC titles.

Junior Mariam Kevkhishvili continued her dominance in the shot put, claiming another NCAA automatic-qualifying mark.

Kevkhishvili's toss of 58 feet, 10.25 inches broke the previous SEC Indoor record of 58 feet, 5.25 inches set by UF's Kim Barrett in 2004.

"She does a wonderful job," Holloway said. "The big thing with Mariam is she has the same passion and the same drive that Christian has. That's what champions are made of. Both Christian and Mariam come to practice every day, and they find a way to get better."

Junior Shara Proctor won the triple jump with a NCAA automatic-qualifying leap of 43 feet, 8.00 inches. She finished second in the long jump with a leap of 20 feet, 8.00 inches.

UF's Madara Apine and Michelle Jenije placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the triple jump.

In track events, freshman Alishea Usery ran a provisional-qualifying time of 7.33 and finished fifth in the 60-meter dash.

Usery also had a provisional-qualifying time in the 200-meter dash. She finished third in 23.79.

In the mile run, Charlotte Browning and Genevieve LaCaze ran provisional-qualifying times and finished second and fourth, respectively.

Sophomore Kaitlin Shiver finished 10th in the same event.

Senior Sara Petrick and freshman Laura Garrow were seventh and eighth, respectively, in the 5,000-meter run for UF.

Rounding out UF's top women's performances were two relay teams.

The distance medley relay team finished fifth in 11:46.57, and the 4x400 team finished eighth in 3:43.86.

"Overall, we had some very good performances," Holloway said. "But I think in the big scheme of things, we're trying to be an elite team in this league, so we have to show a little more heart and passion across the board."

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