For most of UF’s student body, Spring Break was a time of relaxation and a time to get away from the stressors that attending school builds on a person. However, for the No. 1/2 Florida men’s and women’s track and field teams, it was a time of preparation for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Coach Mike Holloway’s squad goes into Fayetteville, Arkansas, with momentum gained from the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships, where the Gator men came out as conference champs and the women finished runner-up.
While the national meet is of great importance to the state of any college program, Holloway’s preparation for his team was just business as usual.
“It’s just a track meet. Again, we don’t but this big moniker on it,” Holloway said. “It’s not about the label on the event. … just go out there and compete and do your job.”
The Gators will feature 22 individual athletes at the Randal Tyson Track Center this weekend—12 on the women’s side and 10 on the men’s side.
On the men’s side, the most notable events include the triple and long jumps, the 400-meter sprint and the 4x400 relay.
The long and triple jumps will include the duo of Dendy and freshman jumper KeAndre Bates. Dendy is the top-ranked triple jumper in the NCAA and the No. 2 long jumper, while Bates ranks seventh in the long and 12th in the triple.
The 400 will feature the Florida trio of NCAA leader Najee Glass, Arman Hall and Nick Uruburu. Hugh Graham Jr., who qualified for the event, will be sitting out due to an injury.
The tandem of Glass, Hall, Uruburu and senior Dedric Dukes will compete as Florida’s section “D” 4x400, racing in a hotly contested heat that consists of Texas A&M and LSU—ranking No. 1 and tied for No. 4 with the Gators, respectively.
On the women’s side, the second-ranked Gators’ meet is highlighted by the 200-meter sprint and the triple jump—with both events featuring UF athletes.
In the 200, senior Kyra Jefferson, the NCAA leader in the event, and Destinee Gause—ninth in the country—will look to capture the NCAA title in the event. Jefferson claimed the only SEC title for the women in the event last month.
Senior jumpers Ciarra Brewer and Gissell Warner — ranked second and 14th in the event, respectively — will bout with freshman phenom and conference opponent Kenturah Orji of Georgia and the rest of the field for the triple jump national title.
The men will look for its fourth indoor national title, while the women hope to capture its first indoor national title since 1992—the only women’s NCAA indoor title in program history.
Follow Kyle Brutman on Twitter @KBrut13
Florida's Marquis Dendy reacts after competing in the long jump at the NCAA track and field championships on June 12 in Eugene, Ore. Dendy became the first athlete to win both the long jump and the triple jump at the NCAA Outdoors since 2002.