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Wednesday, October 20, 2021
<p>The Florida men's sprint medley relay team of juniors Kyren Hollis, Ryan Clark, Michael Timpson Jr. and freshman Benjamin Lobo Vedel took first at the National Relay Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas. </p>

The Florida men's sprint medley relay team of juniors Kyren Hollis, Ryan Clark, Michael Timpson Jr. and freshman Benjamin Lobo Vedel took first at the National Relay Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas. 

There are many aspects of track and field that make it unlike other sports.

It has no preset time frames or changes in possession. There are no balls to dribble or goals to score.

Yet, the extraordinary performances of the individual athletes and the constant shuffles in standings keep us intrigued.

They’re what makes watching hours of running, jumping and hurdling worth it.

Entering into Day 2 of the 2018 Indoor National Championships in College Station, UF’s women were in second place, and its men were tied at third.

Then, with only three events left in the competition, Florida dropped down to the No. 8 spot on the men’s leaderboard.

But thanks to big points collected by KeAndre Bates and Clayton Brown in the men’s triple jump, Florida hopped back up to first place in the standings with just a couple events left.

By the end of the night, coach Mike Holloway and UF’s men gathered in front of the podium with wide eyes and smiling faces.

They donned NCAA national champion hats and T-shirts before hoisting the trophy high above their heads inside Gilliam Indoor Stadium.

And they culminated their success in College Station with a collective Gator chomp.

It was the first indoor national title collected by the UF’s men since 2012.

Sophomore Grant Holloway topped off a dominant indoor season with his third NCAA title in the men’s 60-meter hurdles.

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With his time of 7.42, Holloway is the first collegian to eclipse 7.50 seconds three times, and he is the only man in history to post top-two finishes in the long jump and 60-meter hurdles at NCAA indoors.

Bates scored his second consecutive runner-up finish at the NCAAs with his season-best triple jump mark of 16.67 meters. He has now finished in the top two in the NCAA horizontal jump events six times in his career.

Brown also posted a season-best triple jump mark at 16.34 meters, and this was the second consecutive time that the sophomore scored at NCAAs.

Redshirt junior AJ McFarland finished ninth in the men’s weight throw. His top mark of 21.80 meters was the third highest in school history.

On the women’s side, juniors Yanis David and Sharrika Barnett were key contributors in the Gators’ fourth place finish.

David finished runner up in the women’s triple jump for the second consecutive year with her top mark of 13.97 meters.

Barnett — who finished with the second fastest time in the women’s 400 qualifier on Day 1 — took fourth place with a personal-best 51.07.

The 4x400 relays were the final races of the NCAA Championships, and there were high stakes surrounding the events.

The women had dropped out of the top five in the standings before the start of the relays.

However, the team of Barnett, Lauryn Ghee, Taylor Sharpe and Taylor Manson clocked a third place time of 3:29.41 after Barnett went 50.1 on her anchor.

That finish bumped the women back into fourth place and solidified their first podium finish since 2015.

The men needed at least a fifth place finish to hold on to their top spot in the standings for the national title.

The team of Holloway, Kunle Fasasi, Chantz Sawyers and Benjamin Lobo Vedel clocked a season-best time of 3:01.43. The finish was good for third place in a race that featured the three fastest times ever recorded, and it earned the men their fourth NCAA Indoor title in school history.

The Gators now boast eight national titles and will return to Gainesville to prepare for the beginning of the 2018 outdoor season.

Follow Alanis Thames on Twitter @alanisthames and contact her at athames@alligator.org.

The Florida men's sprint medley relay team of juniors Kyren Hollis, Ryan Clark, Michael Timpson Jr. and freshman Benjamin Lobo Vedel took first at the National Relay Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas. 

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