For the second time this season, Florida’s All-American, Olympic-hopeful laden roster was embarrassingly defeated at the Southeastern Conference Championship.
The Gators entered the final day of the Outdoor Championship on Saturday with the opportunity to make a move to the top of the leaderboard.
Instead, with sixth and seventh place finishes for the No. 3 men’s and No. 7 women’s teams, respectively, the Gators stayed put in the mediocre middle.
The Championship proved to be an uphill battle due to injuries, but there were some bright spots during the course of the three-day competition.
When standout senior sprinter Shayla Sanders was unable to compete in the 100-meter dash, redshirt junior Kyra Jefferson didn’t waste the opportunity.
Jefferson took first place with a time of 11.28 in just her third collegiate race in the event. With her win, she became the 13th woman in program history to win at least five career SEC indoor and outdoor titles.
However, Jefferson injured herself as she crossed the finish line and was unable to compete in the 4x400 relay and 200-meter dash finals.
“Very pleased with Kyra Jefferson winning the 100 (meters) today. It was a special moment,” UF coach Mike Holloway said in a release. “Unfortunately, she hurt herself right at the end of it.”
On the men’s side, two athletes captured their own individual titles.
The first came at the end of Thursday, the first day of the meet, with freshman Anders Erikson’s victory in the hammer throw. With his win, he became just the third athlete in school history to win the hammer throw, and the only freshman since 2006 to win the SEC title in the hammer throw.
“It’s a really good feeling. Had a pretty good season coming in, ranked No. 1 (in the SEC). It’s always good to finish first in a meet like this,” Erickson said in a release. “To perform well on such a long day, after all the delays, I’m really happy with that.”
Redshirt junior Eric Futch captured a win of his own in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 49.24, moving to the No. 4 spot on UF’s all-time top-10 list.
However, one of UF’s most impressive moments came from UF’s women’s 4x400 relay team, which consisted of Robin Reynolds, Sharrika Barnett, Taylor Sharpe and Claudia Francis. Despite trailing for most of the race, Francis was able to make a pass in the last 100 meters of the final lap and led her team to an SEC title.
The Gators have less than two weeks to prepare and get healthy before they travel to the NCAA East Preliminary in Jacksonville on May 26.
“Overall, (it was) a disappointing weekend for us. We feel we’re better than what we showed,” Holloway said. “On the men’s side, we’ve got to get a few things figured out. We’ve got to get back to Gainesville and get better.”
Contact Lauren Staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @lstaff27.
Kyra Jefferson runs during the 2016 Pepsi Florida Relays on April 1, 2016, at James G. Pressly Stadium.