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Saturday, October 23, 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 doesn’t coach for participation ribbons.

He coaches to win national titles,  something he has achieved six times at UF.

So when his men’s team, filled with senior leadership and talent, finished in seventh place at the NCAA Indoor Championship on March 12, Holloway was embarrassed.

He knew his team was capable more, so he shouldered the blame.

“It was an incredibly disappointing weekend, almost to the point of embarrassment,” Holloway said in a release on March 12.

“All I can say is that we will be better in outdoors. We have to be.”

He vowed he would fix the issues that plagued his team — inconsistency, injury and lack of mental toughness — during outdoor season.

He backed that up.

On Friday, the Florida men’s team captured the NCAA Outdoor Championship in Eugene, Oregon, in incredible fashion.

It came down to the 4x400 relay team of Kunle Fasasi, Arman Hall, Hugh Graham Jr. and Najee Glass, who only needed a sixth-place finish to win the title.

“I knew we had to get through the end of the race,” Fasasi said on Friday.

“What I had in my mind majorly was not to get disqualified for any reason — not beat the gun, stay in the lane, good exchange.

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"I was more focused on that than running to them.”

But as soon as Glass crossed the finish line in the last leg of the race in second place, Fasasi no longer had to worry.

They were  champions.

On the women’s side, Saturday did not prove to be as exciting as Friday had been for the men.

Florida ended the championship tied for ninth, and its talented 4x400 and 4x100 relay teams failed to crack the top-three times.

The women’s team hasn’t won a national title since 1992.

“We have to get some more people that have a little bit more pride and passion for what we do here,” Holloway said.

“I know we’re young in some areas, but, at the end of the day, that falls on my shoulders.”

Holloway has the difficult task of rebuilding his teams.

Both will be losing many talented seniors who have made Florida the national powerhouse it now is.

For the women, Kyra Jefferson, Claudia Francis and Robin Reynolds will be moving on.

They have all won national championships at Florida

Hall and Glass will also leave a large void on the men’s side.

But Florida also has young talent on its roster and a coach who knows how to win titles.

“I’ve got to do a better job of recruiting, and I’ve got to do a better job of getting people in here that want to be great,” Holloway said.

“That’s what we’re going to go out and do.”

A video posted to FloridaGators.com contributed to this story.

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