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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Coming off the school’s first national indoor title, an indoor coach of the year award for Mike Holloway and a preseason No. 1 ranking, it might be easy for the Florida men’s track and field team to focus on its recent success.

But with a new season set to begin Saturday at the one-day Nittany Lion Challenge, hosted by Penn State in University Park, Pa., the Gators are forgetting about the past and looking to reclaim the championship form they enjoyed last year.

“There’s been a lot of talk about us defending our national title. That happened in 2010. This is 2011. We don’t even talk about that,” Holloway said. “Our goal is to be the best team in the country this year, as it is every year.”

The UF men earned the top ranking in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association preseason poll. The Gators return a great deal of the talent that helped them capture the school’s first national indoor title a year ago. They added the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, according to Track and Field News.

While there is certainly no lack of talent on the men’s team, Holloway is anxious to see how his squad’s focus holds up in the first meet of the season — particularly after a long offseason full of training.

“Sixteen weeks of the fall, running against each other, it gets a little bit old sometimes,” Holloway said. “Our big focus this weekend is to just go out and get the season off to a good start — not to expect national records and school records and stuff like that. We just want to see how everybody reacts when the lights come on.”

The Florida women’s team, meanwhile, will enter its season without the same level of expectations. The Gators finished fourth at last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships and brought in the nation’s seventh-ranked recruiting class, but Holloway said the team will have to rebuild after losing the majority of its point-scorers from last year’s squad.

“We’ve got some work to do there,” Holloway said. “But we are very confident that the young ladies we have on this campus are ready to put their best foot forward and continue the tradition of excellence on that side of the coin as well.”

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