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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

A mixed bag of performances at SEC Indoor sees women finish second, men fifth

The women shined while men didn’t live up to expectations

<p dir="ltr"><span>Florida track and field coach Mike Holloway boasts the No. 2-best men’s team and the No. 6-best women’s team in the country.</span></p>

Florida track and field coach Mike Holloway boasts the No. 2-best men’s team and the No. 6-best women’s team in the country.


Florida both over and underperformed at the SEC Indoor Championship Saturday. 

The women’s team finished in second place and the men in fifth in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The women would be joyous that they took home silver when looking at the USTFCCA rankings before the meet. Prior to competition, Florida ranked No. 7 in the country. 

The first points Florida put on the board Saturday came in the men’s 400m. Freshman Ryan Willie ran a personal best time of 45.66 to receive a bronze medal in his first conference championship. 

In the 200m, sophomore Joseph Fahnbulleh ran the second fastest time in the NCAA this year at 20.32 and only trailed LSU’s Terrence Laird. 

Over in the field, redshirt senior Connor Bandel threw 18.98m in the shot put, a score good enough for bronze. While not an improvement on the silver he won last year, it’s his second collegiate medal.

The men ultimately finished below where they were projected to. The Gators were at No. 8 Feb.22,  with the only LSU and Arkansas being on top.

Head coach Mike Holloway echoed the men’s subpar performance.

“On the men's side, we've got to get a little tougher,” he said. “I know we had some people down and we were missing some people, but we had some people here that just aren't buying. I'm the head coach and that's my deal. I've got to fix that." 

While the men didn’t  show out, the women certainly did. Six Gators finished on the podium in their respective events. Heading into Saturday, the women ranked sixth and needed strong performances from everyone that was competing in finals — and that’s exactly what happened.

Sophomore Semira Killebrew began the ascension with a season best time of 7.21 in the 60m, which put her in third place. 

In the 400m, Florida showed exactly why it obtained silver, with Talitha Diggs and Taylor Manson finishing as the top two. Diggs clocked in at 51.14 and Manson at 51.82, personal bests for both athletes and the second and third fastest times in the NCAA this year. 

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Sophomore Gabrielle Wilkinson ran a personal best time in the 800m and placed second at 2:02.85.

To finish off the track events, the 4x400m team took home bronze while it ran another season-best time of 3:31.75.

Florida picked up two more bronzes in the field. Thea Jensen threw a personal best distance of 16.56 in the shot put. Senior Natricia Hooper jumped for a season-best 13.45m in the triple jump.

At the end of the day, Florida rose to second with a total 81 points through a plethora of impressive performances. 

The final meet of the indoor season will be the NCAA Championships back in Fayetteville March 12.

Contact Myles Herbert at and follow him on Twitter @myles_herbert

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