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Monday, May 10, 2021

Florida ends regular season with championship season right around the corner

The distance crew traveled to Jacksonville while sprinters raced in Baton Rouge

<p>Florida head coach Mike Holloway. The Gators men&#x27;s and women&#x27;s track and field teams competed in both Jacksonville and Baton Rouge this week but only had one athlete win an event.</p>

Florida head coach Mike Holloway. The Gators men's and women's track and field teams competed in both Jacksonville and Baton Rouge this week but only had one athlete win an event.

Florida’s track team closed out its regular season this week in two different cities. 

The distance runners traveled to Jacksonville, Florida, Thursday for the UNF Invitational, while the sprinters and field athletes ventured westward to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to compete Saturday at the LSU Invitational. 

Florida’s team hadn’t separated in such a way this season, although the split likely tied to the strength of each meet. Top sprint schools such as Arkansas and LSU appeared in Louisiana, as well as Olympic hopefuls who ran representing a club. 

Meanwhile, UF recorded a season-low two top-three finishes in Jacksonville. Only 15 Gators competed in Duval County, most participating in events they had limited experience in.

Florida’s outing in the Bayou proved to be an improvement but still subpar. Only one athlete, Connor Bandel, secured a first-place finish.

Bandel emerged victorious in the Shot Put. The redshirt senior threw 19.22m.

Taylor Manson put up the most impressive result of the meet.  The redshirt junior clocked a personal best 51.58s in the 400m, the seventh-fastest time in the NCAA this year and the ninth-fastest time in school history. Despite the historic pace, Manson finished in second place. 

Redshirt junior Dedrick Vanover picked up two top-three finishes in the 100m and 200m. The Gainesville native broke his personal record in the 200m at 20.67 and matched his 100m record with a 10.28 performance.

The Gators nearly cracked the top-10 in the women’s 4x100m. Talitha Diggs, Semira Killebrew, Alexis Brown and Grace Stark combined for 43.97 when the race was all said and done, finishing in 2nd place.

The lack of standout results at the two meets could be designed by head coach Mike Holloway. If Florida worked out its kinks in Jacksonville and Baton Rouge, the team should be ready to go for the SEC championship in two weeks.

Florida’s next meet will be the conference Championship, hosted by Texas A&M in College Station, Texas. The meet begins May 13 and runs through May 15.

Contact Myles Herbert at mherbert@alligator.org or follow him on Twitter @myles_herbert

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