Last one, best one.
That is the mantra Florida coach Mike Holloway has emphasized to his athletes from the beginning of indoor season until now. On Wednesday, the Gators head to Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, to try to capture their first NCAA Outdoor Championship since 2013 in their last track meet of the season. At the NCAA East Preliminary in May, Florida qualified 25 entries for the four-day meet.
But the athletes on the No. 2 men’s and No. 9 women’s teams will have to have season-best times if they want a chance to dethrone the Oregon Ducks, who have 32 total entries in this year’s championship. The No. 3 Duck’s men’s team has won back-to-back outdoor titles while the No. 6 women’s team took home the crown in 2015.
The Gators will also be at a disadvantage in the 200-meter dash. Kyra Jefferson, who holds the UF record in the event, was battling injuries and was unable to qualify at the East Preliminary. She was also unable to compete in the 4x100 relay and will not travel to Eugene.
However, both of the 4x400 relay teams for the men’s and women’s teams qualified and will present a challenge to every team they face. Freshman thrower Anders Eriksson, who became the first UF freshman to qualify in the event for the NCAA Championships since 2002, is someone who could help Florida's men's team garner enough points to help them bring a championship back to Gainesville.
Competition begins Wednesday.
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UF coach Mike Holloway smiles as he talks with his team during the 2016 Florida Relays at the Percy Beard Track.