After more than three months of competing in events on the road, the No. 2 Florida men’s and women’s track and field teams will stay put in Gainesville as they host the Pepsi Florida Relays this weekend at the Percy Beard Track.
UF will feature a total of 49 individual athletes in 32 different events as well as six relay teams.
The Gators look to mirror their performance at last year’s Florida Relays, when coach Mike Holloway’s squad racked up nine wins and 27 top-five finishes.
Senior sprinter Dedric Dukes aims to defend his 200-meter dash invitational meet title today. Dukes took the event last year with a 19.97-second performance, becoming the then-collegiate and world leader and only the second Gator to ever finish the outdoor 200 in less than 20 seconds.
Dukes was also part of the men’s 4x400 relay, which featured Najee Glass, Hugh Graham Jr. and Arman “Gino” Hall, that showcased the second-fastest time (2:59.73) in the event in outdoor collegiate history at the meet.
Senior hurdler Bridgette Owens will attempt to win back-to-back meet titles, as she will take part in the 100-meter hurdles. At last year’s Florida Relays, she took the event in a then-personal record 12.90 seconds.
While Kyra Jefferson practices on the Percy Beard Track almost every day, the sophomore sprinter will return competitively to the track where she broke the UF women’s 200 meter record at the Florida Relays last year. The Detroit native finished the event in 22.78 to secure a runner-up finish in the event.
Senior jumper and NCAA triple and long jump champion Marquis Dendy, who has only competed in the triple and long jump this season, will race in the 100-meter dash this weekend—his only event. Fellow jumper KeAndre Bates will join him in the event.
The reason behind Holloway’s decision to race the two in the short sprints this weekend is to help their approaches for future jumping events.
“Before you’re a jumper, you’re a sprinter,” Holloway said. “Ninety-five percent of the long jump is the sprint.”
While freshmen Jontavia Dykes, Darrielle McQueen and Harry Glasser did not compete for the Gators last season, that did not stop them from making their presence felt at the Gainesville meet.
A thrower from Miami Northwestern high school, Dykes was victorious in the girls’ discus event, throwing a then-PR 43.63 meters. McQueen of North Florida Christian in Tallahassee won the women’s long jump with a 5.71-meter jump—more than half-of-a-meter less than her current PR of 6.30. Glasser (The Bolles School, Jacksonville) took the boys’ pole vault with a 4.87-meter attempt.
All three will compete in the same respective events this weekend.
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.