Step-up performances have followed UF track and field throughout its 2018 campaign.
The NCAA East Preliminary marked a time when 30 of UF’s track and field athletes did what it took to ensure that their season didn’t end at USF Track and Field Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
For many of them, it was a familiar position.
Sophomore Clayton Brown was in that spot when he needed a triple-jump mark of at least 16 meters at the SEC Indoor Championships on Feb. 25 to qualify for NCAA Indoors, and he got it done.
This past weekend, the St. Andrew, Jamaica, native found himself staring down a similar lane in the long jump competition, and he only had one more chance to jump far enough to make it into the top 12, qualifying for NCAA Outdoors.
In the same routine series, he came up with one of the many clutch performances for UF at the meet to qualify not only in the long jump but in the high jump as well.
Three more jumpers on both the men’s and women’s sides followed Brown’s example with qualifying marks in more than one event.
Senior KeAndre Bates was one of them. The reigning national champion’s triple jump win and eighth-place long jump finish ensured that he would get the chance to leave his mark on a Gators team that he has won six individual titles with.
For junior Yanis David and senior Darrielle McQueen, the women’s long jump and triple jump competition will be their chance to step up the way they have all season. They’ve collected big points for their team when it needs them.
“Everybody who put the uniform on went out and competed hard—even those who didn’t make it,” coach Mike Holloway said in a release. “Nobody came out here and lied down. That was fun to watch.”
He watched as two of his 110-meter hurdlers made their way into the top 12 to advance.
Sophomore Grant Holloway and freshman Cory Poole became the second pair of UF hurdlers to go to nationals since William Wayne and Kallinka Pitt did it in 2009.
As the only program with multiple throwers headed to Eugene, Oregon, for nationals, UF will continue to lean on the consistency of junior Anders Eriksson, freshman Thomas Mardal and redshirt junior AJ McFarland.
The throwers have remained among the most productive in the nation all season. The fact that Eriksson, Mardal and McFarland finished second, sixth and 11th, respectively, to advance was no surprise.
“We are who we are at this point; we qualified who we qualified,” Holloway said. “We’re going to get back to Gainesville Monday, get everybody rested and healthy, then go out to Eugene and do the best we can.”
You can follow Alanis Thames on Twitter @alanisthames or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior jumper KeAndre Bates took first place in the triple jump at the NCAA East Preliminaries. Bates qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, for both the triple jump and long jump.