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Tuesday, December 07, 2021
<p>Antwan Wright races during the 2014 Tom Jones Memorial Invite.</p>

Antwan Wright races during the 2014 Tom Jones Memorial Invite.

While both the Florida men’s and women’s track and field teams begin the season at the top of the collegiate polls, the Gators do not feel that is enough to satisfy their goals.

Much like a 60-meter dash, the finish is what matters the most.

Regardless of their preseason rankings, the Gators have one goal in mind: bring home an NCAA title to Gainesville.

"We all want to win a national championship," junior sprinter Antwan Wright said. "We all want to wear rings and have the nice dinner that the school gives us. We just want to win."

Florida returns quality depth on both teams.

The men bring back all but two athletes who earned All-America honors last season, including Bowerman Trophy Watch List members Dedric Dukes and Marquis Dendy.

The women’s team loses just three of its All-Americans — Cory McGee, Ebony Eustey and Agata Strausa.

Despite the high ranking, coach Mike Holloway does not feel that his team is walking with a target on its back.

"We look at it as a challenge," said Holloway, who is in his 13th season as the Gators’ head coach.

"(The ranking) is very flattering, but at the same time we have to keep competing."

The Gators are set to start the season at the UAB Blazer Invitational in Birmingham, Alabama, on Friday.

Last season, Florida clinched 13 victories and broke 10 meet records at the meet.

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While Holloway usually views the first meet of the season as a chance to initally evaluate the team, he also holds high expectations from his players from the get-go.

"We’re trying to figure out where we are and what we need to improve on," Holloway said.

"I expect nothing more than for everyone to compete at a high level."

Holloway’s high-standard mentality has found its way to translate over to the players.

"My fall training was awesome," said sprinter Shayla Sanders.

"Coach Holloway was always there to set us in the zone. I think this season is going to be my season. I just have to keep going forward, put God first, and everything is going to work out."

Wright, who came .08 seconds away from breaking Jeff Demps’ school record in the 60-meter dash at last year’s NCAA Championships, is less concerned with setting a new mark and more focused on his own performance.

"I go into each race thinking, ‘what can I do better in this race than what I did in last race?’ If I go out there chasing times, the times won’t come," Wright said.

"But if I go out there and have fun, the times will come."

Follow Kyle Brutman on Twitter @KBrut13

Antwan Wright races during the 2014 Tom Jones Memorial Invite.

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