Florida had a strong second day at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. Standout performances in the junior championships and some of the senior events have left the Gators still fighting for spots on Team USA.
The Gators saw some success in the men’s triple jump competition. Will Claye placed first marking 17.91 meters on his fifth attempt and Omar Craddock placed fifth marking 16.78 meters on his first attempt. This event marked Claye’s third time winning the USATF Outdoor Championship triple jump title within the last four years and also guaranteed him a spot on Team USA for August's IAAF World Championships in London.
Claye is a three-time Olympic medalist who won silver in both 2012 and 2016 for the men's triple jump. His performance on Friday makes him the No. 4-ranked American in the history of the event.
Former Gator Bridgette Owens qualified for the 100-meter hurdle semifinals with a time of 12.98 seconds and placing 8th overall.
Despite a solid time on Thursday, former Gator Olympian and four-time individual NCAA champion Jeff Demps was unable to qualify for the final in the men’s 100-meter dash. Higher times and late finishes kept Demps off the leaderboard for further competition in the USATF competition.
On the other hand, KeAndre Bates had a less than desirable finish in the triple jump final. Bates finished last overall with just three attempts (one a foul and another a pass). Christian Taylor did not post a distance after comitting a foul and then passing on his final two attempts. However, he is already guaranteed a spot at the World Championships.
The 400-meter hurdle prelims also saw some great effort from former and current Gators. Claudia Francis finished with a time of 56.74, qualifying for the semifinals that will take place Saturday evening. TJ Holmes finished with a time of 49.27 seconds and also qualified for the semifinals with a third place finish out of 28 competitors. Eric Futch and Kerron Clement will join Holmes in the semifinals after strong performances in the prelims.
Tony McQuay and Calvin Smith, both former Gators and Olympians, competed in the men’s 400-meter semifinals. McQuay qualified for the finals with a time of 44.82 seconds and a 4th place finish overall out of 16 competitors. McQuay was also able to achieve a season best with his 400-meter time. Smith, however, finished 14th overall with a time of 46.09 seconds and will not be racing in the final.
From the juniors side, Brandee’ Johnson competed very well in all three of her events on Friday. She qualified for the 400-meter hurdles final with a time of 58.18 seconds and a first place finish. In the 100-meter hurdles final, Johnson finished third overall with a time of 13.25 seconds.
Junior Cory Poole and freshman Justin Pacifico also competed well in their individual events. Poole qualified for the junior 400-meter hurdles final with a time of 50.64 seconds while Pacifico qualified for the junior 800-meter final with a time of 1:54.23.
Saturday’s events start off with Grant Holloway in the men’s 110-meter hurdle prelims race at 2:20 p.m. Fans can watch the USATF Outdoor Championships today on NBC from 4 to 6 p.m.
Contact Mari Faiello at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @faiello_mari.
Jeff Demps (right) smiles during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.