The Florida men’s and women’s track teams gave the home crowd a lot to cheer about on their first day competing at the UF-hosted Pepsi Florida Relays in Gainesville.
At the first home event of the season, he No. 2 Gators compiled three event victories on Friday, winning both the men’s and women’s 400-meter sprint and the women’s 100-meter hurdles.
“Very pleased with today,” UF coach Mike Holloway said. “I thought we had some very good performances. I really can’t think of anything that didn’t go well.”
Junior sprinter Najee Glass became both the indoor and outdoor collegiate leader in the 400 with a personal record-setting 45.19-second performance.
The Southeastern Conference 400 champion fell less than one-tenth of a second short of breaking Butch Reynolds’ meet record of 49.13.
“Today, I told Najee, ‘Just go be Najee Glass. Just don’t ever doubt yourself,’” Holloway said. “He ran a big PR. I’m very proud of him.”
NCAA women’s 400 champion Kyra Jefferson barely edged out Miami’s Shakima Wimbley in the same event. Jefferson finished in 51.491 seconds, while Wimbly finished in 51.499.
In her outdoor season debut, senior hurdler Bridgette Owens took the 100 hurdle meet crown with a 12.75-second showing.
Senior jumper Marquis Dendy proved on Friday that he can succeed away from the triple and long jump.
The NCAA triple and long jump indoor champion stepped out of his comfort zone, racing in the 100-meter dash and producing the best finish among the five Florida participants in the event. In his first collegiate 100 dash, the Delaware native won his heat and finished eighth overall with a 10.31 (-1.1) mark.
Not counting the three winners, the Gators compiled 10 individual top-five finishes on the day.
Florida also had 17 athletes set PRs on Friday.
Freshman thrower Lloydricia Cameron and freshman jumper Darrielle McQueen secured third-place finishes in the women’s hammer and women’ long jump invite, respectively. Cameron set her PR with a 54.80-meter throw in the hammer event, while McQueen marked a 6.22-meter jump in the long jump.
In her 2015 debut, redshirt junior thrower Kike Oniwinde put herself in UF’s record book for the javelin. She recorded a 45.14-meter toss, setting a PR and notching the No. 8 mark in the program’s women’s javelin history.
Mid-distance runners Ryan Schnulle and Andres Arroyo continued their season long momentum with respective second and fifth place finishes. Schnulle has now finished in the top-five in eight of his last 10 races, while Arroyo has done so in five of his last eight attempts.
Florida’s day ended with the men’s steeplechase, where senior distance runner Mark Parrish delivered a third-place finish with an 8:46.22 mark — his fourth top-five finish in five events.
“I’m very happy with Mark,” Holloway said. “I know he wanted to go faster. Overall, I think for his first meet of the year, I’d rather see him run OK here and get better as we go. That’s kind of our mantra for the outdoor season.”
The Gators will kick off the final day of the Florida Relays at 10 a.m. Saturday, when junior thrower Jayla Bostic will compete in the women’s hammer invite.
Follow Kyle Brutman on Twitter @KBrut13
Mark Parrish races in the 3,000 meter steeplechase during the 2015 Florida Relays on April 3 at the Percy Beard Track.