Claire Bryant waited patiently under the tent in the middle of the field while the officials raked.
Her previous attempts secured third, but it wasn’t good enough for her. The NCAA runner up in the high jump holds the school record in the event and good means something else in her vocabulary.
Bryant took her place and sprinted toward the sand before torpedoing through the air. She flew 21-1 ½ feet, and locked first place by a quarter inch.
On a humid Thursday evening in Tallahassee, Florida competed in an outdoor track meet for the first time since June 8, 2019. This comes after finishing fourth and sixth at the NCAA Indoor Championship two weeks ago.
Florida leaped into action on the day starting with the long jump. Florida State’s Alonie Sutton nearly matched Bryant’s jump at 21-1 ¼ ft so both athletes were forced to keep their effort on their final three tries. To Bryant’s luck, her competitor could not beat this distance, giving her a well deserved first place.
She was joined on the podium by Kala Penn, who started her outdoor season with a jump of 20-1ft.
On the men’s side, Caleb Foster picked up a second place finish in his first outing of his collegiate career. The Fresno, California, native flung his body over the sand for 24.5ft in only his fourth jump representing the Gators.
UF picked up another top-3 finish in the field in the men’s shot put where redshirt-senior Connor Bandel finished in third. As he stepped up to throw the 16lb ball a look of determination was seen on his face, he launched the ball forward and threw for 19.20m on his fourth throw which was already good enough to secure bronze. On his sixth and final throw, Oxford, Michigan, native improved to 19.50m.
Thea Jensen closed out the field with a 16.36m throw in the shot put, the seventh-best distance in the NCAA. After the field events, the races kicked off.
Both athletes in the men’s 200m broke the top seven.
Dedrick Vanover finished second in his heat and overall with a time of 20.87. In his first individual race since the 2019 season, redshirt junior Chantz Sawyers finished third in his heat and ran the seventh fastest time overall at 21.48.
The two Florida sprinters in the women’s 200m didn’t fare as well. Two members of Florida’s 4x400m indoor team, which won the bronze medal at SEC Indoor Championship, Lauryn Ghee and Doneisha Anderson finished 18th and 11th in their event, respectively. Both athletes finished last in their heats with times of 24.89 and 24.58
Action revs up Friday with a full slate of races on the track. The day begins with the 110m hurdles at 11 a.m.
Contact Myles Herbert at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @myles_herbert