Heading into this weekend’s NCAA Indoor Championships, the No. 1/2 Florida men’s and women’s track and field teams will feature 22 athletes at the meet, including a wide array of jumpers, throwers and distance runners.
While senior jumper Marquis Dendy has been the center of attention all season — winning the Southeastern Conference title in the triple jump and long jump en route to the Cliff Harper High Point Trophy — the trio of Najee Glass, Arman Hall and Nick Uruburu will look to make its presence known at the national meet.
Led by Glass, who holds the NCAA’s top time in the men’s 400-meter sprint, the three will all be part of the 16-athlete field at the NCAA Championships.
With the addition of Hugh Graham Jr., the trio also teamed up during the regular season to mark the third-best time in the 4x400 relay in the country.
Senior Dedric Dukes will replace Graham in the relay this weekend at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
Last season’s national indoor 400-meter sprint included each of Florida’s qualifiers from this season aside from Uruburu.
However, the addition of Uruburu, a sophomore from Jacksonville, to this year’s field makes all the difference for UF.
He shed eight-tenths of a second off his freshman personal-best with a 46.31 at the SEC Indoor Championships, clinching a tie for the 14th-best time in the country.
"He’s just been continuing to make me proud. … He’s staying with me, (Arman) and Hugh at practice, he’s not slacking off," Glass said. "His time is progressively coming down, nothing’s going to stop him. ... He shows out and does his job."
Coach Mike Holloway looks at having three athletes in the 16-athlete 400 event as a mental plus for his squad.
"It’s an advantage because you have people there in the event to support you," Holloway said.
Of the 13 opposing competitors, perhaps the biggest threat to Florida’s quartet is the Texas A&M senior duo of Deon Lendore and Bralon Taplin.
Lendore, whose best time is No. 2 in the NCAA, won last year’s national indoor 400 dash title—later sweeping the national event with a win in the national outdoor meet—and was the eventual winner of the Bowerman Trophy.
Taplin sits behind Lendore on the national list in the No. 3 spot with a top time of 45.39—one-one hundredth of a second behind his teammate’s best mark.
Though the competition in the event - as well as the rest of meet - is tough, Holloway knows what his team needs to do to succeed.
“We’ll do what we always do is go out there, put our uniform on, keep a lot of pride, a lot of passion, and do the best we can.”
Follow Kyle Brutman on Twitter @KBrut13
Hugh Graham Jr. (left) hugs Arman Hall after winning the 4x400m relay during the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Jun. 8, 2013.