Usually, coach Mike Holloway and the No. 2 Florida men’s and women’s track and field teams take their show on the road.
The Gators have traveled near and far this season, venturing as far as Ames, Iowa, for the Iowa State Classic on Valentine’s Day weekend and as close as Orlando for the UCF Black and Gold Challenge and UCF Invitational — both taking place just 125 miles from UF’s campus.
But this weekend, the Gators are staying home.
For the first time this season, Florida will host a meet in Gainesville, where the Pepsi Florida Relays will take place at the Percy Beard Track.
Parking near the O’Connell Center will be lifted for the event, and James G. Pressly Stadium is expected to fill to maximum capacity.
Senior Ciarra Brewer feels the luxury of racing on home turf gives the Gators a large advantage over the rest of the field.
"We’ve trained on this track, we know this track," Brewer said. "It’s just a practice with more competition."
Brewer has been one of the main contributors to Florida’s success throughout both the indoor and outdoor seasons. She has placed in the top five in all but one of her events this year and was crowned the women’s indoor triple jump champion at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.
While Brewer feels that the factors affected by the home meet put Florida in a favorable position, Holloway knows that the squad cannot rely on the possible home-meet advantages to perform well.
"It’s always good to be at home in front of your home crowd and alumni and in front of friends and family," Holloway said. "Other than that it’s just another track meet."
This weekend’s meet begins a month-long stretch in which the Gators will escape the traveling that consumes much of the team’s season.
Florida will get a three-week competitive break leading up to this year’s Tom Jones Memorial Invitational in Gainesville on April 24, followed by the LSU Invitational in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Brewer said that the long break usually helps Florida in future competitions.
“I don’t think it’s the greatest for our bodies to just be competing every week,” Brewer said. “I feel like the coaches do a great job at just making sure that we’re well rested and are still training.”
Follow Kyle Brutman on Twitter @KBrut13
Ciarra Brewer competes in the triple jump at the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships on May 13, 2012.