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Friday, December 03, 2021
<p>UF coach Mike Holloway smiles as he talks with his team during the 2016 Florida Relays at the Percy Beard Track.</p>

UF coach Mike Holloway smiles as he talks with his team during the 2016 Florida Relays at the Percy Beard Track.

Florida coach Mike Holloway normally approaches each track meet the same way.

But for Holloway and the rest of Florida’s track and field program, their next meet is special.

Nearly three weeks removed from a record-breaking performance at the Pepsi Florida Relays, the Gators will be competing in the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational on Friday, their last home meet of the season.

The Tom Jones Invitational was created in honor of former Florida women’s head coach Tom Jones, who spent 15 years with the Gators and was named NCAA Coach of the Year three times during his 35-year career.

He died after a battle with cancer on March 21, 2007.

On Friday, Florida will be running in his memory.

"We always try to make sure that we have quality competitors and quality teams," Holloway said. "And we want to do well ourselves in honor of him and all that he did for the program, and where he led the women’s program."

The Gators will attempt to do just that, but some UF athletes will open competition in events they have yet to run in during the outdoor season.

"I look forward to some great performances this weekend," Holloway said.

"Looking forward to Kyra Jefferson running her first 100-meter of the year...We get to see senior Antwan Wright, and our men’s 4x100 will open for the first time this weekend."

Wright has been limited since injuring himself at the Razorback Invitational on Jan. 30 and was unable to compete at the Florida Relays.

Senior Claudia Francis, though, will look to improve her time in the 400-meter hurdles when she runs the event for just the third time in her college career. At the Pepsi Florida Relays, Francis set an NCAA-leading time of 56.43 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles, winning her race and setting the second-best mark in school history.

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At last year’s Tom Jones Invitational, the Gators won eight event titles and former Gator Taylor Burke set a school record in the high jump.

Florida is looking to repeat that same success this weekend.

"Coach Jones was really big on head to head competition," Holloway said. "He was really big on watching great teams and great athletes get together and have a great meet, so we are looking forward to that this weekend."

Contact Lauren Staff at lstaff@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @lstaff27

UF coach Mike Holloway smiles as he talks with his team during the 2016 Florida Relays at the Percy Beard Track.

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