For the first time since 2011, the Florida men’s track and field team is standing on top of the Southeastern Conference indoor podium.
Following three straight years as runner-up in the SEC Indoor Championships, coach Mike Holloway’s squad left Lexington, Kentucky as conference champions, racking up five individual titles and 114 points in the process.
Florida clinched the SEC title with both the distance meter relay and 4x400 relay yet to have been completed.
Marquis Dendy, who participated in his final SEC indoor meet, was responsible for 20 of those points, as he took the title in both the triple jump and long jump.
Dendy—who stated last week that he had to end the indoor season “with a bang”—lived up to his words, becoming the first SEC athlete to do so in the conference meet since former Gator Christian Taylor in 2009.
Dendy finished the meet in a tie for the Cliff Harper High Point Trophy.
Day 2 for the men’s side was one of much success for Florida. Aside from Dendy’s victory in the triple jump on Saturday, the Gators produced seven trips to the podium in six individual events and a second-place finish in the 4x4.
Mid-distance runners Ryan Schnulle and Andres Arroyo provided a one-two punch in the 800-meter run. The duo produced finishes of 1:48.25 and 1:48.48 , respectively — racking up 18 points in the process.
Senior thrower Stipe Zunic contributed 10 points, as took the SEC shot put title with a 20.41-meter throw--the best throw in the history of the indoor meet.
The trio of Najee Glass, Geno Hall and Nick Uruburu finished in first, fourth and sixth, respectively, in the 400-meter run—garnering 18 points in the process.
Glass is the fifth Gator to win the event at the SEC indoors all-time and the first since Kerron Clement in 2005.
Mark Parrish (13:53.48) and Jimmy Clark (14:15.41) combined for 10 points with respective second and seventh-place finishes in the 5000-meter event.
Junior sprinter Dedric Dukes earned the Gators six points in a third place effort (20.96) in the 200-meter run.
Freshman jumper KeAndre Bates finished the triple jump with a 16.06-meter mark — good for fifth place.
The result earned the Gators four points, as Dendy and Bates finished first and fifth in an event for the second straight day as they combined for 28 total points.
Sophomore hurdler Yanick Hart and junior sprinter Antwan Wright finished fifth in the 60-meter hurdle (7.84) and seventh in the 60-meter dash (6.75), respectively, as they combined for six points towards Florida’s winning total.
The women’s side clinched a runner-up finish in the SEC indoor meet, as they finished the meet with 86 points.
The final day of the meet was highlighted by winning and runner-up finishes in two events by junior sprinter Kyra Jefferson.
The Detroit native took the 200-meter run in a race that came down to the wire. Jefferson finished the event in 23.0212 seconds, and runner-up Dezerea Bryant of host Kentucky crossed the finish line in 23.0215 seconds—a three-ten thousandths of a second difference.
The victory was only the second ever indoor conference title in the event in UF history—the first coming in 1992.
Junior Destinee Gause (23.41) added four points with a sixth-place finish in the event.
Jefferson delivered a runner-up finish in the 400-meter event (52.00)—a personal record—adding eight points to Florida’s total.
Senior Bridgette Owens contributed eight points to the cause as took runner-up in the 60-meter hurdle with an 8.08-second finish.
Junior mid-distance runner Claudia Francis set a new PR (2:04.39)—en route to a third-place finish in the 800 event.
In the women’s triple jump, senior jumper Ciarra Brewer clinched a runner-up finish in the event with a 13.54-meter leap—locking up eight points for her squad in the process.
Senior jumper Taylor Burke earned six points for the Gators with a third-place finish in the high jump—topping out at the 1.84-meter progression.
Junior sprinter Shayla Sanders took her place on the podium with a third-place finish in the 60-meter dash.
While the women’s side did not come out on top, Holloway did not take anything away from their effort throughout the meet.
“Every lady that put on a Gator uniform went out there and fought hard all weekend.” Holloway said.
Follow Kyle Brutman on Twitter @KBrut13
Marquis Dendy competes at the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships on Feb. 23, 2013, in Fayetteville, Ark.