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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Florida starts SEC Indoor Championship on strong foot

Thomas Mardal threw an NCAA leading distance in the weight throw

<p>UF freshman Grant Holloway jumps at the Hokie Invitational men's long jump final on Jan. 21, 2017. </p>

UF freshman Grant Holloway jumps at the Hokie Invitational men's long jump final on Jan. 21, 2017. 

Both Florida teams ended the first day of the SEC Indoor Championship on the podium.

With three top-three finishes, Florida enters the remaining two days of Fayetteville, Arkansas, competition in second place on the women’s side and third in the men’s.

To say that Thomas Mardal merely out threw his competition on Thursday would be an understatement. 

The Norwegian senior threw an NCAA-leading 24.16m in the weight throw on his way to collect his third SEC title overall. He threw the first, second and third best measurements — and the next best lagged behind by almost 2m.

His throw placed him on top of UF’s all-time record and as the sixth best in collegiate history.Mardal is set up in perfect position to become a national champion when Florida returns to Arkansas in two weeks.

In the women’s pentathlon, Sterling Lester returned to the podium after a year's absence. While at Georgia in 2019, the junior won bronze in the event. Sherecorded a season best in all five events, including a personal best in the high jump. Her 4,095 points secured her second place.

To close out the first day, the distance medley relay brought differing results for the two teams. The women would run a season’s best time of 11:00.31, third in UF history, and go home with the silver medal. The men’s race would produce as good as a result where the team would finish in tenth.

Contrary to Thursday, when most of the day was consumed  by finals, Friday holds mostly preliminary competition. 

Friday will begin with the men’s long jump, in which Malcolm Clemons and PJ Austin will compete for the Gators in one of the only events with a final. The other two final events are the men’s 5000m, in which Trevor Foley will run, and the women’s long jump, in which Alexis Brown and Claire Bryant look to put Florida in first. 

Proceedings begin at 2:45 p.m. and will stream on SEC Network+.

Contact Myles Herbert at and follow him on Twitter @myles_herbert

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