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Sunday, June 23, 2024

After a week off, the UF track and field teams continued their successful outdoor season in the War Eagle Invitational at Auburn over the weekend.

The Gators gathered eight wins and a total of 32 NCAA regional-qualifying marks in the two-day event.

Leading the charge for UF was freshman distance runner Genevieve LaCaze.

LaCaze highlighted the first day of competition by breaking UF's freshman school record with a win in the women's 1,500-meter run.

She won the race in 4:20.90, besting the previous school record of 4:22.18 that she set back on April 3 during the Florida Relays.

Having never competed in an indoor meet before this season, it took the freshman some time to adjust. But the outdoor season has put her in a familiar environment.

UF's coaches knew the potential LaCaze had when they recruited her, and they were not surprised by her performance this weekend.

"We are very excited about what she is doing, and we expect her to keep going in that same direction," UF coach Mike Holloway said.

Another freshman, Christian Taylor, also performed well for UF this weekend, picking up where he left off two weeks ago at the Florida Relays.

Taylor won his first outdoor long jump with a leap of 25 feet, 4 inches, a NCAA regional-qualifying distance. He picked up another regional-qualifying mark when he finished sixth in the men's 200-meter dash in a time of 20.91 seconds.

Also in the spotlight for UF this weekend was freshman sprinter Jeff Demps.

Demps made his season debut in the men's 100-meter dash, finishing sixth in 10.42 seconds.

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Holloway assessed Demps' effort as that of a person who hasn't run the 100-meter dash in 10 months.

However, the two will continue their work together to get Demps prepared for the postseason meets.

"Jeff and I have talked. We've got a plan, and he'll be ready when the championship season (begins)," Holloway said.

UF will head back to practice and make little tweaks in preparation for the upcoming Penn Relays.

"No matter what we do, no matter how well we do things, we still have plenty of room for improvement, and so we are just gonna go out and keep working on those little things," Holloway said.

The Penn Relays run from April 23-25 in Philadelphia.

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