Entering the 4x400 meter relay at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, freshman Kunle Fasasi had one thing on his mind: Don’t get disqualified.
Florida needed a sixth place finish in the relay in order to bring their first title home to Gainesville since 2013.
“I knew we had to get through the end of the race,” Fasasi said on Friday. “What I had in my mind majority was to not get disqualified for any reason- not beat the gun, stay in the lane, good exchange. I was more focused on that than running to them.”
But as soon as anchor Najee Glass crossed the finish line in second place, the celebration began.
The Florida Gators were national champions once again.
“We’ve said all year long, if it came down to the 4x4, we’d like our chances,” Florida coach Mike Holloway said in a release.
Florida’s championship was a result of a stellar second day that saw senior Arman Hall and redshirt junior Eric Futch win individual titles.
Hall’s came in the 400-meter dash, where he became just the second Gator to win the 400-meter dash title while tying his own personal record (44.82 seconds).
“It means so much. We won my freshman year, and the past couple of years we’ve been all over the place. And we’ve had a great team,” Hall said in a release. “Just coming in here, people counted us out from the get go, and we came out on top. It’s just so amazing.”
Futch won the 400-meter hurdle title in 48.91 seconds, edging out teammate TJ Holmes who placed second at 49.31 seconds.
“I’m just happy that we came out here and did what we were supposed to. (TJ and I) told coach Holloway that we would get 18 points,” Futch said in a release. “He told us to just come out here and do what we were supposed to and everything would fall in place.”
Hall and Futch became just the second pair of teammates to place in first and second place in the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Championship since 1983.
Sophomore KeAndre Bates also secured a second-place finish in the triple jump, becoming just the second Gator since 1990 to score in the long jump and triple jump as an underclassman.
“We knew we had a wonderful group of kids, and I felt like we were letting them down. I challenged my staff to be better. I challenged myself to be better,” Holloway said. “They probably thought I was crazy when I said, ‘Guys, we’re going to win a national championship,’ after we were sixth at the conference meet. But they believed.”
A video posted to FloridaGators.com contributed to this report.
Contact Lauren Staff at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @lstaff27
Hugh Graham Jr. (left) hugs Arman Hall after winning the 4x400m relay during the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Jun. 8, 2013.