With the 2018 SEC Indoor Championships set to begin next week, Florida’s distance medley relay team will compete in a qualifying race today at the UCS Invitational in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The Gators are coming off a big week at the Tiger Paw Invitational and Iowa State Classic on Feb. 9 and 10 where they set two historical milestones, including sophomore Grant Holloway’s NCAA record in the 60-meter hurdles (7.42 seconds) and the men’s 4x400 relay team’s fourth fastest finish in collegiate history (3:01.98 seconds).
Despite last week’s success, the men’s team slipped in the rankings to No. 2, flipping spots with Texas Tech, and the women fell two spots to No. 8 in the nation.
UF’s distance medley relay team will include junior Sam Ahrenholz leading off (1200 meters), junior Kyren Hollis running second (400 meters), sophomore Justin Pacifico running the third leg (800 meters) and Jack Guyton finishing with the mile.
The distance corps opened its season at the Commodore Invitational on Jan. 12 and 13 where it won its distance medley relay with a nation-leading time of 9:53.89 seconds.
At the same meet, Pacifico set a personal record with his time of 1:50.37 in the 800 meters before topping that record last week with a time of 1:49.66.
“I didn’t think coming (into this season) that I could compete with all the big-named athletes here in the 800 and nationally,” Pacifico said. “I’m proving to myself that I can.”
Pacifico and his teammates are hoping to finish today’s race with a time good enough to put them in the top 12 in the national rankings, which would earn them a spot in the NCAA Championships at the beginning of March.
“(It helps) to have that championship atmosphere this week because everybody’s trying to qualify for this national meet in the (distance medley relay),” Pacifico said. “This is just one step in preparing us for what’s coming up in the next couple of weeks.”
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Coach Mike Holloway's distance medley relay teams will look to rebound after the men's and women's runners dropped one and two spots in the rankings, respectively.