Game, set, match. The Gators have everything they need in order to advance to the next step of their championship taper.
The top-ranked men’s and second-ranked women’s teams capped off the NCAA prelims in Jacksonville at Hodges Stadium to move on to the finals in Eugene, Ore., which begin next week.
En route to the end of their season, Florida rounded up 25 athletes (12 women, 13 men) who qualified for finals in their respective events and will now focus on what matters the most – first place finishes at finals.
“I thought everybody did a great job this weekend,” coach Mike Holloway said. “The purpose of this meet was to qualify for nationals, to be in the top 12 in each event with the exception of a couple of bumps in the road.”
Florida added four women and two men on the final roster as junior hurdler Bridgette Owens highlighted the day for the Gators with a personal record of 12.80 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles.
Owens ended up clocking the second-best performance in UF history, and also had the second-best mark of all performers at both the east and west preliminary sites.
Triple jumper Ciarra Brewer pulled off a final jump performance in order to exit out of the east prelims with a qualifying mark, and distance runners Cory McGee and Agata Strausa in the 1,500-meter run turned in first and third finishes.
As for the men, both Eddie Lovett (110-meter hurdles) and Dedric Dukes (200-meter dash) ended their quarterfinal events with top performances in their respective events.
The Gators will now have a week off of competition in order to recuperate and prepare themselves for the three-day NCAA finals in Oregon that begin June 11.
Understanding what has been accomplished thus far, the mission is far from being completed and the Gators understand that.
“We have a great number of qualifiers for nationals, but we can’t rest on our laurels or get complacent,” Holloway said.
“I congratulated the team, but we have to get refocused, and that starts Monday. We’ll get back to Gainesville, get back on the track and get back to work.”
Follow Lawrence Laguna on Twitter @LagunaLawrence
Bridgette Owens competes during the Tom Jones Memorial Invite on April 19 at the Percy Beard Track. Owens, who clocked a 12.80-second 100-meter hurdles on Saturday, was one of 25 UF athletes to advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.