Florida sophomore Jack Guyton started running competitively to stay in shape for lacrosse.
After his freshman cross country season, Guyton’s coach thought he’d better keep the stick out of his hands and his feet on the track.
“I ended up being pretty good at cross country my freshman year, so my high school coach convinced me to quit lacrosse and run track instead,” Guyton said.
The rest was history.
The Tampa, Florida, native went on to become a state champion in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters at the 2014 FHSAA Class 4A Outdoor Finals. He followed up that impressive junior campaign with a runner up finish in the 1,600 meters and a third-place finish in the 3,200 meters at the 2015 FHSAA Class 4A Outdoor Finals.
Guyton’s ability did not go unnoticed by the media.
Guyton said a local reporter created a nickname for him – Gunlap Guyton – due to his ability to turn on the jets in races as the gun went off to signal the final lap.
And reporters weren't the only ones watching.
Guyton started receiving offers to run track and cross country from several different universities.
Guyton said he considered FSU and the University of North Florida before deciding to sign with UF after what he said was a great visit.
“I really liked how Florida had a great track team, not just cross country,” Guyton said.
Guyton got involved with cross country right away but ended up redshirting his freshman indoor season.
He did, however, compete in four outdoor meets in 2016, which included a 14th-place finish in his primary outdoor event — the 1,500 meters — at the Pepsi Florida Relays.
His success at the USATF Outdoor Junior Championships, where he missed making the World Junior team in the 1,500 meters by a little over a second, led to a smooth transition into a successful redshirt-freshman indoor season.
At the Commodore Invitational on Jan. 13, Guyton clocked the fastest mile by a Gator in six years and the No. 8 time on Florida’s all-time top 10. He finished his season by placing fifth in the mile finals at the SEC Indoor Championships as the only freshman in the race.
Guyton and a few of his teammates will kick off the 2017 outdoor season in Orlando this weekend at the UCF Black and Gold Challenge.
Florida coach Mike Holloway said the Gators ended their indoor season well, but they’re excited to get outdoors.
“Everything we do, we do better outdoors,” Holloway said.
Holloway also said Florida, the 2016 Outdoor National Champions, will look to build off a strong showing at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships, where they placed second to Texas A&M, coming within a point from adding another championship trophy to its collection.
“It’s almost one of those things where if you’re going to be second, you want to get beat soundly so that you’re not walking around like, ‘What’s half a point?” Holloway said. “Any scenario you can come up with comes with half a point.”
Not taking credit away from Texas A&M, Holloway said coming in second is clearly motivation for the team during the outdoor season.
“We will definitely have a little extra pep to us during outdoor season,” Holloway said.
Guyton, who will compete in the 800 meters this weekend, said he’s looking forward to getting his legs going.
“It’ll be nice to get my legs moving a little faster than normal,” Guyton said. “It will get me ready for Florida Relays in the 1,500.”
As for what Guyton will be doing before he runs those 800 meters, he said he’ll be listening to music.
And when asked what he listens to, Guyton’s smile could be heard in his voice.
“Um,” he chuckled, “Kodak Black.”
Contact Daniel Smithson at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @DanielTSmithson.
UF distance runner Jack Guyton.