Only one meet stands in the way of Florida bringing its first national championship back to Gainesville since 2013: the NCAA East Preliminary.
Forty-six UF athletes, 21 for the No. 3-ranked men’s team and 25 for the No. 9-ranked women’s team, will travel to Jacksonville for the preliminaries.
However, only the top 12 individuals and 12 relay teams from each of the regional competitions will qualify for the NCAA Championships.
The Gators are just two weeks removed from a disappointing Southeastern Conference Championship on May 14th where the men finished in sixth place and the women finished in seventh.
“We feel that we are much better than we showed at SECs and as the head coach it is my job now to figure out what buttons to push, what things to tweak to get us to be who we believe we are moving forward,” coach Mike Holloway said. “We really feel good about where we are.”
For the women’s team, the Gators expect standout redshirt junior Kyra Jefferson, who won the 100-meter dash at the SEC Championship, to have another record-breaking meet. She is competing in the 200-meter dash, and is a part of the NCAA leading 4x400 relay team made up of Robin Reynolds, Sharrika Barnett and Claudia Francis, as well as the 4x100 relay team.
Florida will also return redshirt junior Shayla Sanders in the 100-meter dash and the 4x100 relay, who was unable to compete at the SEC Championship.
On the men’s side, senior Arman Hall and redshirt junior Eric Futch enter the meet today with the regional-leading times in the 400-meter dash and the 400-meter hurdles, respectively.
At SECs, Futch won the SEC title in the event with a time of 49.24 seconds, the fastest time by an SEC Champion since 2009. The men’s 4x400 team, composed of Kunle Fasasi, Hall, Hugh Graham Jr. and Najee Glass, will also present a challenge to every other team they will face. The team placed second at SECs and has the chance to win the event in this meet.
“We are all physically prepared to do what we have to do,” Hall said. “We know we will run fast when the time comes.”
Florida’s throwers on both sides also have the chance to build on an already successful outdoor season. Freshman Anders Eriksson, who won the SEC title in the hammer throw, will once again be representing the Gators in the event. Sophomore Lloydricia Cameron will be competing in both the shot put and discus throw.
A video posted to FloridaGators.com contributed to this story.
Contact Lauren Staff at firstname.lastname@example.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.