After a long and exciting two days chock-full of throws, relays, sprints and hurdles, Florida track and field punctuated the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational with a new collegiate record in the 4x400-meter relay.
Before Saturday, no team had ever run the 4x400 in less than two minutes, 59 seconds in NCAA competition. That changed Saturday evening in Gainesville.
The race, which traditionally caps off every indoor and outdoor meet, was run by juniors Jacory Patterson and Champion Allison, along with sophomores Ryan Willie and Jacob Miley, in two minutes, 58.53 seconds.
The new collegiate benchmark was the icing on the cake for Willie and Patterson, who had top-3 finishes in other events this past weekend.
Patterson placed third in the 100-meter dash, earning a personal best and tying for eighth in Gators history. Willie finished as the runner-up in the men’s 400-meter run with a 45.16-second time, good for fifth in the NCAA this season. Sophomore Talitha Diggs was third in the women’s 400.
The meet which is aptly named for the legendary Gators coach Tom Jones has been held annually at James G. Pressly Stadium’s Percy Beard Track since 2008, with the exception of 2020. Jones led the women’s squad to 15 top-10 finishes in indoor and outdoor NCAA championships from 1992-2007, the year of his passing.
Florida honored his memory by securing four more event titles throughout the meet, in addition to the 4x400.
Junior Imogen Barrett had herself a weekend to remember. The Australian finished atop the podium in the women’s 1,500-meters Friday and placed second in the 800-meters with a 2:01.65, vaulting her to third on the collegiate leaderboard.
Jasmine Moore continued her triple jump dominance this season by leaping an NCAA-best 14.07 meters, pushing the sophomore to second on Florida’s all-time list. Redshirt senior Natricia Hooper finished close behind Moore. Her 14.03-meter effort set a new record for any athlete hailing from Guyana.
Redshirt sophomore Grace Stark managed to break two school records in one day in the 100-meter hurdles.
In the preliminary competition, the White Lake, Michigan, native smoked her challengers with a speedy 12.67-second finish. She shaved nearly a full tenth of a second off her time in the finals to set a new Florida benchmark and No. 3 NCAA clip.
Freshman Javi Vento and Ryan Miller finished one-two in the 3,000-meter run, earning times of just under eight-and-a-half minutes each.
Florida also performed admirably in the throwing department, putting up a pair of podium performances. Graduate javelin tosser Mark Porter followed up his 68.71-meter runner-up finish at the Florida Relays two weeks ago with a 71.52-meter improvement Friday, again placing second.
Senior Edward Shelikoff made the podium in the discus event, with his farthest throw traveling 57.43-meters, a new personal best.
This wraps up the home meet schedule for Florida this outdoor season. The Gators will head up to Jacksonville, Florida, at the end of next week for the University of North Florida Invitational from April 29-30. It will be the final regular-season competition before the SEC Outdoor Meet takes place mid-May in Oxford, Mississippi.
Contact Ethan Eibe at email@example.com. 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.