The Gators are used to competing against strong runners.
Less than three weeks ago, Florida competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships, where it saw the most talented collegiate athletes in the country.
But today, as the three-day Pepsi Florida Relays kicks off, the competition the Gators will face is of a different caliber.
They are not just facing the best athletes in the United States, but the fastest runners and throwers in the world.
"It’s the Florida Relays, and we get great competition here every year. We get a lot of post-collegiates, a lot of Olympians and world champions," Florida coach Mike Holloway said. "With it being an Olympic year, there will be a plethora of athletes here."
Though Florida had 13 athletes place first in their respective events during their last meet at the Cardinal and Gold Challenge on March 25th-26th, Holloway is only focusing on the challenges his team will face this week.
"I’m not a momentum guy from week to week. But I mean, I think it obviously gives us more confidence," Holloway said. "The big thing for me is I want to see the effort, the passion. I think it’s great that we have the hammers early in the meet because Anders (Eriksson) does a great job of kind of getting it kickstarted for everyone else and giving them some emotional charge."
Sophomore KeAndre Bates, who will be competing this week in the triple jump, will be facing one of the best triple jumpers in the world in Teddy Tamgho. Tamgho represents France and is the world’s sixth-best outdoor triple jumper of all-time.
Most recently, he won the gold medal at the 2014 World Junior Championships in Athletics in Eugene, Oregon.
"He is one of the best that have ever jumped in the triple jump," Bates said. "I saw his name and I was like wow ... I’m just going to focus on myself because I can’t control what he does."
With the relays beginning today, Holloway is looking forward to seeing his athletes respond to not only the high-level of competition, but also their first opportunity to run on Percy Beard Track in front of a home crowd this season.
"We have always run well here, so I don’t know why this weekend would be any different," Holloway said.
The Pepsi Florida Relays begin today at 2 p.m. with the running events and continue at 5 p.m. with the field events.
UF coach Mike Holloway smiles during the 2015 Florida Relays at James G. Pressly Stadium.