The SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships may have been a new meet for Florida Thursday, but senior Thomas Mardal offered a very familiar scene.
Mardal crushed the competition in the men’s hammer throw to repeat history and become the 2021 men’s hammer throw SEC Champion, his fourth SEC title overall. The back-to-back champion propelled the hammer 74.78 meters, the only competitor able to pass the 70 meter mark.
Conference domination isn’t a foreign concept for Mardal. On top of being named the SEC men’s hammer throw champion, the Norway native was also named the SEC Outdoor Track Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He is an NCAA and SEC Weight Throw Champion and a USTFCCCA Indoor-First Team All-American in the weight throw, and he holds the school record in both the weight throw and the hammer throw.
UF’s Sterling Lester currently sits in fifth with 3,544 points in the women’s heptathlon. The redshirt sophomore placed second in both the 100-meter hurdles at 13.44 seconds and the 200 meter at 23.60. On Friday, she will compete in the long jump, javelin throw and the 800 to try to make her way to the top.
Two Florida Gators on the women’s team advanced to Saturday’s final in the 800: Gabrielle Wilkinson and Imogen Barrett.
Wilkinson stayed with the pack until the final curve. The redshirt sophomore found another gear and picked up speed, finishing at 2:05.40, the second-best qualifying time. Barrett ran side-by-side with teammate Abbie Harrelson in her heat. Then, in the last 50 meters, Barrett accelerated and placed second in her heat with a time of 2:09.27.
Three Gators on the men’s team advanced to Saturday’s finals.
Joseph Fahnbulleh and Dedrick Vanover will race together in the 200 final. In the preliminary race, Fahnbulleh burst off the turn and placed first in his heat with a time of 20.46, enough to automatically make the final. Vanover ran a 20.65 in the first heat to end with the fifth-fastest qualifying time.
Denzel Villaman quite literally overcame obstacles to advance to the finals. He finished with a time of 50.96 seconds in the 400 hurdles, the seventh-best qualifying time.
The preliminary races continue Friday with more finals scheduled than Thursday. Coverage is scheduled to begin at 5:35 p.m. on SECN+.
Contact Kaitlyn Wadulack at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @kwadulack