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Monday, February 06, 2023
<p>Marquis Dendy competes in the triple jump during the 2015 NCAA Indoor Championships on March 14 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.</p>

Marquis Dendy competes in the triple jump during the 2015 NCAA Indoor Championships on March 14 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

A mixture of great highs and lows defined the Florida track and field team’s weekend at the NCAA Indoor Championship.

Unfortunately, the latter was of greater importance than the former.

UF’s men’s team finished in second place by scoring 50 points, while the women’s team ended the two-day national championship meet in fourth.

Going into the final two men’s events of the evening — the 3000-meter run and the 4x400- meter relay — the top-ranked Gators were in a deadlock with No. 2 ranked Oregon at 50 points apiece.

Entering the 3000 with five of the 16 runners in the field, Oregon ran away with the NCAA indoor title following a top-three sweep for the Ducks — landing them 24 points and clinching a second-consecutive national indoor title.

Oregon dealt the final blow to coach Mike Holloway and the Gators, and there was nothing that Holloway could do about it.

For Holloway’s squad, this was a precedent that some did not see coming on that day.

"I think in some instances we thought people were going to lay down for us and it didn’t happen," Holloway said in a release.

Despite the last-second blow to the Gators’ championship hopes, there was plenty of individual success to help mend the wounds that the Ducks inflicted upon Florida—winning five individual national titles, all of which set UF records.

Senior jumper Marquis Dendy earned two national titles with a sweep of the long jump and triple jump.

Dendy’s winning performance of 8.28 meters in Friday’s long jump matched that of his national title-winning performance in the 2013 indoors — which also took place at Fayetteville’s Randal Tyson Track Center.

The triple jump is where the Delaware native shined the most during his final collegiate indoor national meet.

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In the triple jump, Dendy recorded a distance of 17.57 meters -- leapfrogging two decorated Olympians in Will Claye and Christian Taylor on Florida’s all-time list to capture the event crown and the new program record.

Dendy’s triple jump mark was also the longest in the meet’s history — surpassing Claye’s 2011 performance — and third-best in collegiate history.

Senior thrower Stipe Zunic pulled off an upset in his NCAA title-winning effort in the shot put, out-throwing Texas junior Ryan Crouser, who came into the event as the NCAA leader.

Ciarra Brewer helped lead the No. 2 women to a fourth-place finish, as she leaped her way to a national title in the triple jump (14.01 meters) — shattering Shara Proctor’s previous school record (13.88) in the process.

Junior sprinter Kyra Jefferson broke her own program record by almost two-tenths of a second in the 200-meter sprint in 22.63 seconds to earn the national title in the event.

A sixth individual title was a hair’s length away for Florida, as senior hurdler Bridgette Owens was beat out by Kentucky’s Kendra Harrison by one hundredth of a second in the 60-meter hurdle (7.88).

Holloway feels the biggest thing for the women’s side is believing that they are just as good as anybody else in the field.

"We used to have a tendency to get here and start thinking we don’t belong here," Holloway said. "Until we do that, until we wake up and believe we are one of the best teams in the country, we are going to come up short."

Follow Kyle Brutman on Twitter @KBrut13

Marquis Dendy competes in the triple jump during the 2015 NCAA Indoor Championships on March 14 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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