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Sunday, September 24, 2023

UF track and field heading to NCAA Indoors with title aspirations

<p>UF junior sprinter Shayla Sanders.&nbsp;</p>

UF junior sprinter Shayla Sanders. 

Two days separate Florida’s track and field teams from a potential NCAA Indoor National Championship.

The women’s team, which enters the competition carrying the No. 1 ranking, came in fourth in last year’s outing, which was their third top-four finish since 2010. However, the team hasn’t won it all since 1992.

This year, though, the women won’t settle for anything less than first.

"I am looking forward to claiming a national title," senior Shayla Sanders said. "It will be my first time being at the top of the ranking. I want to keep a positive mindset and go out and run like I have been doing."

Sanders enters the meet as the only Gator with a nation-leading time, hers coming in the 60-meter dash.

"My expectations not just for me period, but as a team ... is for all of us to go out there and put our heart in everything that we do, put as many points on the board," Sanders said. "For me, I just want to have a perfect race. I want to make sure my form is right, my block and my start. As soon as I get that right, I will be good."

Sanders, along with fellow seniors Kyra Jefferson and Robin Reynolds, will also be representing Florida in the 400 meter dash. If all three make the final, it would be only the seventh time that has happened since 1999.

Jefferson could also become the first Division I women’s competitor since 2005 (Hazel Ann Regis, LSU) to score in both the 200- and 400-meter dashes.

"(Jefferson) is very important. They are all important," UF coach Mike Holloway said. "We don’t pinpoint or put pressure on one specific person. Anyone who puts on a Gator uniform this week is important."

The men’s team enters ranked third nationally and boasts a 4x400 relay team that has high expectations. The last time the men won the NCAA Indoor Championship was 2012, and they have the potential to capture their fourth title this weekend.

The 4x400 relay team — made up of seniors Arman Hall and Najee Glass, redshirt junior Eric Futch and freshman Kunle Fasasi — set the nation-leading time of 3:04.02 at the SEC Indoor Championships and gave Florida its first 4x400 title since 2010.

"I would say our dedication and hard work," Glass said on what makes this year’s team special. "I just cannot wait to see everyone’s hard work in the Fall pay off."

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Hall also has the opportunity to become the first Division I men’s competitor since 1999 to score in both the 200 and 400 meters at two different NCAA Indoor Championships. He previously accomplished the feat in 2014, when he took fourth in the 200 and third in the 400.

Competition begins at 6:20 p.m. in Birmingham, Alabama, with KeAndre Bates in the men’s long jump, and continues into Saturday.

Contact Lauren Staff at and follow her on Twitter @Lstaff27.


UF junior sprinter Shayla Sanders. 

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