Chantz Sawyers strolled over to teammate Grant Holloway with his head high, his hands on his hips and a smirk on his face. Holloway could only answer by hugging the freshman and raising his hands. It was an underclassmen versus upperclassmen split between the Gators’ men’s 4x400 relay teams, and Sawyers’ group, consisting of three freshmen and one sophomore, topped the two other teams of veterans.
UF’s men’s and women’s track and field teams had all-around successful outing at the FSU relays in Tallahassee on Friday behind strong showings from not only returning national champions but from debuting underclassmen.
“Great overall team effort,” UF coach Mike Holloway said in a release. “It was just good to see everyone come out here, get focused, knock the rust off.”
The Gators posted five NCAA-leading times and marks, in addition to 12 in the national top five and five on UF’s All Time Outdoor Top Ten list.
The trio of redshirt sophomore Anders Eriksson, freshman Thomas Mardal and redshirt junior AJ McFarland went 1-2-3 in the men’s hammer throw to kick off Friday’s meet.
Eriksson’s 71.75-meter throw was good for the second-ranked mark in the country and was one centimeter off his school record. Mardal, in his debut, threw for 69.30 meters to record the No. 3-ranked mark in school history. And McFarland opened his outdoor season with a personal-record throw of 67.31 meters, good for the No. 5 spot on the Gators’ All-Time Outdoor Top Ten list.
Connor Bandel and Mardal followed by finishing first and second, respectively, in the men’s discus throw with McFarland and Christopher Olson taking fourth and fifth in the same event.
Holloway, senior KeAndre Bates and freshman Enzo Hodebar went 1-2-3 in the men’s long jump, while senior Darrielle McQueen and freshman Amanda Froeynes finished first and second in the women’s long jump. Holloway and McQueen’s marks lead the nation.
And in the men’s triple jump, sophomore Clayton Brown took the NCAA lead with his winning mark of 16.40 meters.
He moved to the No. 7 spot on UF’s All Time Outdoor Top Ten list.
Defending outdoor SEC champion Lloydricia Cameron competed in three events on Friday and finished in the top four in each.
The senior’s top mark of 16.52 propelled her to a win in the shot put. And she finished second and fourth, respectively, in the discus throw and hammer throw.
In another impressive outdoor opening, junior Jhonny Victor won the men’s high jump with his personal-record 2.15-meter jump.
In another first-place finish for the Gators, the grouping of Holloway, Sawyers and juniors Ryan Clark and Michael Timpson Jr. clocked a time of 39.45 in the 4x100 relay, good for the No. 2 ranked time in the country.
Five Florida 4x400 relay teams circled the maroon track in Tallahassee, and the Gators took first and second place on both the men’s and women’s sides in yet another event.
The women’s team of Nikki Stephens, Lauryn Ghee, Destiny Ward and Taylor Manson clocked a first-place time of 3:34.34. Froeynes, Taylor Sharpe, Brandee’ Johnson and Sharrika Barnett finished closely behind at 3:35.72.
For the men, it was the quartet of Sawyers, Benjamin Lobo Vedel, Cory Poole and Cole Johnson that clocked a winning time of 3:05.22 to top Kunle Fasasi, Grant Holloway, Ryan Clark, Jabari Hill’s group, which finished in second place 3:07.01.
Timson Jr., Dawson Guillory, Kyren Hollis and Justin Pacifico clocked a time of 3:13.32, good for a fourth-place finish.
“After coming off a very emotional indoor season, to come out here and shake the rust off and get things going again I thought was pretty good,” Holloway said. “ I want to thank [Florida State head coach] Bob Braman and his staff. They put on a wonderful meet and they were very hospitable.”
Follow Alanis Thames on Twitter @alanisthames, and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UF track and field coach Mike Holloway was pleased with Yanis David's performance at the National Relay Championships in Arkansas, saying, “She got focused, and she worked on the things she needed to do to jump farther."