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Saturday, October 23, 2021

With championship season approaching for the indoor track season, an SEC championship is the expectation this weekend for the Florida men’s team in College Station, Texas.

As defending champions of the Southeastern Conference, the Gators have certainly looked the part this season, turning in impressive performances and scoring nationally-ranking times on a weekly basis. This stellar campaign has seen the Gators ascend to third in the USTFCCCA Track and Field Rating Index ahead of this weekend’s SEC Championships.

This index also demonstrates the fierce competition awaiting UF on Friday and Saturday. LSU (2nd), Georgia (6th), Tennessee (8th) and Arkansas (10th) all feature in the top ten. The Gator’s will be helped by their experience, as Clayton Brown, Jack Guyton, Justin Pacifico and Thomas Mardal are all returning medalists from last season’s team.

After medaling in the distance medley relay last year, senior Jack Guyton will compete in the mile along with fellow Gator Hugh Brittenham. Guyton competed in the mile at the Tiger Paw Invitational last time out, clocking in at 4:07.53 and earning a first place finish.

Senior Raymond Ekevwo, the headlining act for the Gators, will follow. The top-ranked 60-meter runner in the country will look to earn his first SEC indoor medal, which he is on pace to do after a dominant season. The Nigerian will also look to break the school record for the 60 meters. Grant Holloway's 6.50 is the current record.

Despite having only competed in one meet this year, Thomas Mardal serves as one of the most experienced and prolific members of the Gators’ throwing team. The junior won in the weight throw at the Tiger Paw Invitational, and looks to be one of the favorites in the same event tomorrow

Senior Justin Pacifico will compete in the 800 meters along with freshman Jacob Miley. Pacifico will look for his first solo medal this weekend after winning the 800 meters last time out at the Camel City Invitational.

Lastly, senior Clayton Brown will compete in the high jump. The Jamaican has not competed in nearly a month, but was victorious last time out at the Razorback invitational.

On the women’s side, the SEC is a particularly daunting conference, with five of the top six ranked teams hailing from the conference. However, a power vacuum may be emerging, as the Arkansas Razorbacks, who have won five consecutive conference titles, rank third thus far this season.

The most notable performers on the women’s side are sophomore Doneisha Anderson and senior Taylor Manson. Anderson leads the country in the 400 meters after registering a 52.06 second time last meet at Clemson. The Bahamian has experience in this competition as well, anchoring a bronze-medal 4x400 meter relay last year. Manson will compete in the same event, looking to win her first 400m of the year.

Both days will be streamed on SEC Network+, starting at 6:10 p.m. on Friday and 4:55 p.m. on Saturday.

Follow Declan on Twitter @dawalsh_UF and contact him at dwalsh@alligator.org.

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