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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Florida track and field hopes for same success with new recruits

Men’s and women’s teams start season Friday at Clemson Invitational

<p>Florida’s Talitha Diggs competes during the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday, February 27, 2021 at Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark. / UAA Communications photo by Alex de la Osa</p>

Florida’s Talitha Diggs competes during the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday, February 27, 2021 at Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark. / UAA Communications photo by Alex de la Osa

Florida Gators track and field won the women's indoor, women's outdoor and men's outdoor national championships last time it saw action. The Gators aim to continue their success in 2023.

UF begins its season Friday at the Clemson Invitational. Both men and women will compete in the long jump, 60m, 60m hurdles, 600m and 1000m on the first day of the meet.

The second day begins at 10:30 a.m. Men and women will compete in the triple jump, shot put, 200m, 300m, 800m and 4x400 relay. Women will also compete in the high jump and 3000m.

The two-day event will start with Gators redshirt senior Gabrielle Wilkinson and redshirt junior Emily Culley participating in the women's 1000m final Friday at 2:10 p.m.

Friday’s last event will start at 4:50 p.m., and Saturday’s will be at 3:25 p.m. 

Three individuals who earned Indoor All-American honors in 2022 — junior Ryan Wille, redshirt junior Jacob Miley and senior Jacory Patterson — will be competing for the men’s team this weekend. 

Patterson received votes for The Bowerman 2023 Men’s Preseason Watch List. This was the third time the runner received votes in his career.

Five All-Americans take part in this weekend’s event —  redshirt senior Imogen Barret, junior Claire Bryant, junior Talitha Diggs, redshirt senior Sterling Lester and redshirt junior Jasmine Moore — for the women’s team. 

Moore and Diggs were both named to The Bowerman 2023 Women’s Preseason Watch List Tuesday. Moore was a Bowerman semifinalist in 2022, however, this is Diggs' Bowerman Watch List debut.

Moore won every major long jump and triple jump championship title for which she competed in the 2022 season. She also became the first woman in National Collegiate Athletic Association history to sweep all indoor and outdoor Southeastern Conference and NCAA titles in the long jump and triple jump in the same calendar year.

Diggs gained national attention after she swept the 400m titles in the 2022 season and placed first at the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships. She also led off Team USA’s 4x400m relay team, helping them earn the 2022 World Championship Gold Medal in July.

Many new student-athletes have been added to Florida’s 2023 roster. The men's team has 13 new members, and nine will compete as Gators for the first time this weekend.

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Redshirt sophomore Sean Dixon-Bodie spent the last two seasons at Louisiana State, where he was a four-time All-American in the triple jump. He will compete this Saturday.

Also joining the team is Junior Robert Gregory from Texas Christian University. The six-time All-American has run the 60m, 100m and 200m. He was the 200m runner-up in the NCAA Indoor National Championship and will compete in the men’s 300m this Saturday.

The women's team added 16 new athletes since the 2022 season; eight will make their Florida debuts at the Clemson Invite.

Redshirt sophomore Laila Owens transferred from Texas A&M, where she became a four-time All-American. Owens will run the opening leg for Florida’s 4x400 team that finished 10th at the 2022 NCAA Division I Indoor Championships. She’ll compete in the Women's 300m on Saturday.

Redshirt senior Kynnedy Flannel is an 11-time All-American transfer from Texas and won nine Big 12 titles in three seasons with the Longhorns. 

Flannel was the anchor of the Texas relay team that won the 2022 NCAA outdoor 4x100 title. She also finished fourth in the 200m. Owens will run the Women's 200m on Saturday.

Will Palmer will join the Gators’ coaching staff after five years with the Alabama Crimson Tide’s distance runners. He will now be the associate head coach for cross country and the assistant track and field coach. 

The meet starts at 2:10 p.m. Friday at The Clemson Indoor Track & Field Complex.  Events will end Saturday and be streamed on ACC Network Extra.

Contact Namari Lock at nlock@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @Namari_L.

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Namari Lock

Namari Lock is a third-year journalism student and production staff member for The Alligator. She has previously worked as multimedia editor, opinions editor, graphic designer and as a general assignment reporter for the Metro desk. In her last semester at UF, Namari is making her Alligator Sports debut as track and field reporter.


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