Anticipation built for the Florida track and field team Friday as several top three finishes in the field finals served as a precursor for Saturday’s SEC title competitions.
Claire Bryant flew through the air for the women’s long jump final. She crashed in the sand 6.71 meters later, enough to place her in second place for the competition.
Clayton Brown and Connor Bandel secured third in each of their respective event’s finals. Brown launched his way to the podium in the men’s high jump final. The Jamaican senior defied gravity to clear 2.24 meters and secure his finish. Bandel propelled the 16-pound shot put 19.61 meters in the men’s final shot put, a new personal best for Bandel and the fourth-best in Gator history.
The heptathlon wrapped up mid-afternoon Friday. Sterling Lester finished seventh with 5,499 points, the fourth-highest total in school history. She placed second in the 800 meter with a time of 2 minutes, 14 seconds flat.
Multiple athletes on the women’s team are slated to participate in Saturday’s finals.
Grace Stark will sprint in the women’s 100-meter hurdles final. She glided elegantly across the hurdles to secure a time of 12.88, a new personal best. Her lightning quick pace was the tenth-fastest time in the NCAA 100 hurdles and fourth-fastest in school history.
Gabrielle Wilkinson and Vasileia Spyrou will run together in the women’s 1,500 final. Wilkinson ran in with a 4:17.97 time, the fifth-fastest qualifying time. Spyrou finished about four seconds behind her teammate with a qualifying 4:21.42 time.
In the women’s 400, Taylor Manson and Talitha Diggs will be the second Gator duo to compete against each other. Manson qualified with a 51.69 time, while Diggs ran a 51.23.
Three Gators are set to race in the 100 finals: Semira Killebrew, Dedrick Vanover and Joseph Fahnbulleh.
In a race where milliseconds turn titles, each of these Gators’ times are painfully close to their competitors. Killebrew’s 11.54 sat .39 seconds from the best qualifying time in the women’s 100. Vanover and Fahnbulleh sit .05 seconds from each other after Vanover ran 10.27 and Fahnbulleh a 10.32.
The finals are scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Coverage begins on SECN+ at 6 p.m.
Contact Kaitlyn Wadulack at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at @kwadulack