They say Disney World is the place where dreams come true. For Florida Gators Track and Field, that place is Birmingham, Alabama.
The No. 1 Florida women’s program captured its first indoor track championship since 1992 Saturday night, ending a 30-year drought. The Gators earned 68 team points to cement its 11th title in program history.
Florida finished 12 points clear of No. 3 Texas, with Kentucky, Arkansas and LSU rounding out the top 5. UF surged to the title with impressive performances on the second day of competition, clinching the top position with just three events remaining.
Sophomores Anna Hall and Jasmine Moore shined on day one at the Birmingham Crossplex. Hall followed up her record-setting pentathlon performance at the SEC meet by recording the first individual pentathlon championship in Gators history Friday.
The Highlands Ranch, Colorado, native earned the pentathlon title with 4,586 points. She placed first in the high jump and 800-meters, second in the shot put and 60-meter hurdles, and seventh in the long jump.
Moore leapt to the first ever Florida championship in the long jump with a 6.57-meter showing. Moore and Hall’s domination resulted in a combined 20 competition points, translating into a one-point advantage for Florida over Ole Miss heading into the final day of events.
“I was very proud of [Hall and Moore],” head coach Mike Holloway said. “A little bit of pressure on both of them being the No. 1 seed but they both came in and performed well and got the job done."
Florida captured three more individual titles on day two, bringing the weekend total to five — just the second time any school has achieved that mark in NCAA meet history.
Sophomore Grace Stark tied the collegiate record with a 7.78-second 60-meter hurdles. Freshman Talitha Diggs recorded a 50.98-second time in the 400-meter race to grab her first individual national title.
“To win the 400 title was a dream come true because I prepared for the moment and visualized it happening,” Diggs said. “To get the win for me, my coaches and my team was the best.”
Moore followed Diggs with her second individual title of the meet, a 14.57-meter first attempt in the triple jump that broke her own collegiate record. Her initial leap was all she would need to bring home the 10 championship points.
Moore’s two NCAA solo titles tied the knot on an incredible indoor season. The Grand Prarie, Texas, native broke two school records, took down a national benchmark and garnered a pair of SEC titles.
Senior Natricia Hooper tacked on eight additional points by placing second in the triple jump (13.99-meters), allowing the Gators to comfortably watch the final three events before celebrating their long-awaited national championship.
“It is a blessing to have all our hard work come out at the best time,” Diggs said. “Our team made sacrifices and truly did it together. To be team champions is a display of our togetherness and love for each other.”
This is the 10th national championship for the program under the leadership of Holloway, who became the 10th Division 1 track and field coach to hit the double-digit title mark. He is also one of only two Black head coaches in Division 1 history to reach ten team championships.
The Gators now shift focus to the outdoor campaign, which takes off on March 23 and will last until mid-June. Florida’s next action will be a pair of away meets to ring in the outdoor season at the University of Texas and North Carolina State University from March 23-26.
Contact Ethan Eibe at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @EthanEibe.
Ethan Eibe is a second-year UF sports media major and covers Gators baseball for The Alligator. Outside of his writing, Ethan is a play-by-play broadcaster for UF student radio and has spent two summers announcing professional baseball with the Alpine Cowboys. He is a long-suffering Miami Marlins fan.