It was a much closer race than expected.
At the sound of the starting signal, defending national champion Grant Holloway darted down the dewy lane at Hayward Field toward his first hurdle, and it seemed like no one could catch the sophomore.
Seconds flew by and Illinois senior David Kendziera and LSU freshman Damion Thomas were gaining speed, threatening. The white finish line drew closer and closer, and the 110-meter hurdles title looked up for grabs as the three hurdlers approached it simultaneously.
But with a desperate lean forward, Holloway found a way to accomplish what only one other man in Division I history has done before: He repeated as champion in outdoor and indoor high hurdles.
Holloway’s time of 13.42 was the highlight of the night for the Gators’ men on Friday.
And it was their only individual title collected in Eugene, Oregon, as the team fell short of repeating as third-consecutive NCAA Outdoor Champions.
The Gators settle for runner-up as Georgia took the title from them by a 10-point margin.
Holloway, juniors Ryan Clark and Michael Timpson Jr. and freshman Chantz Sawyers ran a third-place time of 38.89 early in the night to grab the first points on the men’s final day of action.
That marked the first time a Florida 4x100 relay team finished third or better since winning consecutive relay titles in 2013 and 2014.
The finals of the triple jump and high jump did not go as Florida hoped. They resulted in only seven points for the team.
Senior KeAndre Bates, the reigning outdoor national champion in both the triple and the long jump, finished third in the triple jump, while sophomore Clayton Brown scored one point with an eighth-place finish.
In the high jump, Brown cleared his first couple of tries and looked to be in good position. However he slipped to 10th place, and fell out of scoring position, while redshirt-junior Jhonny Victor was able to garner one point in eighth.
Bates and Holloway also struggled in the long jump on the first day of action, finishing seventh and ninth, respectively.
But the 4x400 relay team of Holloway, Sawyers, junior Kunle Fasasi and freshman Benjamin Lobo Vedel solidified the team’s second-place spot in the overall standings as the group did just enough in its fourth-place finish.
Under coach Mike Holloway, Florida’s men have finished in the top-two 21 times in 32 NCAA Championship meets.
The runner-up ending also marked the 10th-consecutive top-three finish for UF at the NCAA Outdoors, the third-longest streak in meet history.
You can follow Alanis Thames on Twitter @alanisthames or contact her at email@example.com.
Sophomore hurdler Grant Holloway was one of the many UF track and field athletes who were named All-Americans.