History lies within the lanes of Hayward Field.
Constructed nearly a century ago, the site of this year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships boasts a legacy built in world records, national titles and some of the most memorable races in the history of track and field.
After almost 3,000 miles of travel, Florida track and field finds itself in the same historic stadium in Eugene, Oregon, where its men hoisted the National Championship trophy a year ago.
The men’s team won the previous two NCAA Outdoor titles, and from June 6-9, they will attempt a three-peat at the renowned track venue.
The UF women will look to earn their first NCAA Outdoors podium finish since taking fourth in 2014. The team came close last year, taking fifth and missing the podium by just one point.
But the Gators’ season has seen plenty of success, and they will try to cap off a 2018 campaign that’s featured numerous national top-10 finishes and an SEC sweep.
The UF men enter NCAA Outdoors with a nation-leading 10 athletes who hold top-eight individual performances. It’s also one of two programs in the country (Georgia) with at least seven athletes with top-eight marks and times in their respective events in both the men’s and women’s national rankings.
Senior jumper KeAndre Bates will be one of Florida’s 30 entrants to make an appearance at Hayward Field. And he’ll be there to defend two national titles.
The El Paso, Texas, native is the reigning national champion in the triple and long jump, and he’ll look to be the fourth man in history to sweep both horizontal jump titles at consecutive NCAA Outdoors.
“I would like the marks to show, but those are going to come with execution,” Bates said in a video posted to Twitter. “I just want to execute to the best of my ability so that I can be in a potential spot for those great things.”
Sophomore Grant Holloway will join Bates in the long jump competition, but he has a title of his own to defend.
As the reigning national champion in the 110-meter hurdles, Holloway could become the fourth man in history to repeat as champion and just the second man to sweep indoor and outdoor NCAA hurdles titles in consecutive seasons.
Junior Yanis David will see Hayward Field for the second-straight year as well. She’ll return to compete for the first outdoor horizontal jump title of her career. David ranks second nationally in the triple jump and third in the long jump.
She will participate in both competitions alongside senior Darrielle McQueen.
Big points for the women could potentially come from junior quarter-miler Sharrika Barnett. The Orlando, Florida, native is coming off a fourth-place finish in the 400-meter at NCAA Indoors in addition to an anchor split of 50.11 seconds that propelled the women to third place at the meet.
Florida also enters the meet as the only program with multiple competing hammer throwers. Junior Anders Eriksson (No. 3), freshman Thomas Mardal (No. 9) and redshirt junior AJ McFarland (No. 19) all rank in the national top 20. They are coming off an SEC Outdoors outing in which the trio scored 15 points behind Eriksson’s individual title.
“We got this momentum going. It kind of started at the NCAA Indoor meet,” coach Mike Holloway said in a release. “And there’s just a big focus with this group.”
You can follow Alanis Thames on Twitter @alanisthames or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior KeAndre Bates is the reigning national champion in both the triple jump and the long jump. Bates will defend his title this week at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, starting Wednesday.