The Florida Gators men’s track and field team punched nine tickets to the quarterfinals, hoping to stamp their mark in the NCAA Outdoor Championships next week.
Florida came off three event wins in the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships earlier this month. With SEC competition in their rearview mirror, the orange and blue now have their sights on Eugene, Oregon, looking to claim their fifth men’s outdoor national championship in program history.
But first, these Gators have to steer their attention from a highly competitive season in conference play to now competing with a slew of highly talented runners from the eastern region.
No. 4 Florida traveled to Bloomington, Indiana, to participate in the NCAA East Preliminaries. The four-day event kicked off Wednesday with the men’s javelin for the Gators.
Senior Mark Porter gave UF an impressive start to the weekend, as he was deemed to be the first Gator athlete to compete. The Reading, Massachusetts, native takes his third trip to Eugene after just one attempt.
The senior launched the spear in a single throw for a distance of 70.64 meters/231-9. The mark automatically qualified the former Penn State transfer through to the NCAA Outdoor Championship, finishing seventh among all competitors.
As a Nittany Lion, Porter competed in the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2019 and 2021.
Next, sophomore Caleb Foster laced up his spikes as he was slated to compete in both the long jump and 110-meter hurdles.
After making the finals in the SEC Outdoor Championships in the 110-meter hurdles, the Fresno, California, native, failed to qualify for both events Wednesday. Foster crossed the finish line with a time of 13.89 seconds, falling out of the top-10 among competitors.
After the men's pole vault and 1500-meter race concluded, Florida took another bite at the apple in the 100-meter showdown. The Gators ticketed in four runners in the event: Dedrick Vanover, PJ Austin, Joseph Fahnbulleh and Tyler Davis.
Vanover, a local kid from Fort White High School and a SEC silver medalist, undoubtedly advanced to the quarterfinals running 10.19 seconds in his heat.
However, once again Fahnbulleh continued to turn heads in an already impressive season for the Hopkins, Minnesota, native.
Fahnbulleh joins teammate Vanover in Friday’s quarterfinals after recording a personal best 10.03 seconds in the First Round. The performance moved him into second among qualifiers, tying for fourth in school history.
After a noble outing in the 100-meter, Fahnbulleh’s road to the NCAA Outdoor Championships just began. The redshirt sophomore came out the blocks once more in the 200-meter race after an extensive weather delay halted the last event for the orange and blue.
UF earned two more spots after Davis and Fahnbulleh capped off the day for the Gators.
Florida received four more qualifiers in the 400-meter competition including earning the top-two fastest times of the day. Leading all runners, junior Champion Allision finished with a time of 45.28 seconds.
Finally, senior Colin Sieffert clocked in a personal best of 50.81 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles, making it nine Gators to compete in Friday's quarterfinals.
Now, the men look ahead to Friday's quarterfinals as they vie for a spot in Eugene for the NCAA Outdoor Championships June 8-11.
The NCAA Preliminaries continue Thursday as the Florida women's track and field team continues the four-day weekend long event.
Curtis Michaud is a fourth-year student at the University of Florida within the College of Journalism and Communications. He specializes in sports and media and would like to continue to provide authentic, thorough, and engaging sport content for all readers. He is an enterprise reporter and lacrosse and track and field writer for The Alligator.