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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Florida men’s track and field claims sixth NCAA Outdoor National Championship

Florida’s men’s teams won their 11th National Championship in program history Friday

Members of the Florida men's track team talk during the Tom Jones Memorial April 14-15, 2023.
Members of the Florida men's track team talk during the Tom Jones Memorial April 14-15, 2023.

For the sixth time in program history, the Florida Gators men’s track and field team were crowned 2023 National Collegiate Athletic Association Outdoor Champions Friday.

It's the 11th National Championship for the men’s team and the 14th overall National title for Florida’s track and field programs.

The men’s team entered the Outdoor Championship ranked fourth in the nation with nine athletes competing in eight events.

Day one of the three-day event consisted of six semifinals. UF’s men’s 4x100 relay team — juniors Ryan Willie and Robert Gregory, and redshirt seniors Jacory Patterson and Pjai Austin — advanced to the finals after winning their heat with a time of 38.22.

Austin outshined in the men’s 100m. He earned a spot in the finals with a collegiate leading and school record time of 9.89 — the fourth fastest time in collegiate history.

Gators sophomore Emmanuel Bamidele, redshirt Junior Jevaughn and Willie all advanced in the 400m finals. Bamidele earned second with the 15th fastest time in the world this year at 44.67. Willie secured sixth and Powell finished seventh.

Gregory advanced in the men’s 200m after the speedster ran the third fastest time in school history of 19.95.

In the last men’s race of the day, the 4x400 team of Powell, Bamidele, Patterson and Willie, advanced with a meet record time of 2:58.62. They placed first in the semifinals.

“Incredible first day.” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “We qualified very well and set ourselves up to have a great day on Friday.”

On the final day of the Outdoor Championship, the men’s 4x100 relay team of Willie, Gregory, Patterson and Austin, led the day with a silver medal and a time of 38.26. The second-place finish earned eight points for UF.

Austin secured four more points for the Gators road to the title by finishing fifth place in the men’s 100m dash.

Bamidele won the men’s 400m title with a time of 44.24, the fastest in college this season. Only 0.01 seconds behind him was Willie, who secured silver with a time of 44.25. Powell finished seventh in the same event. The trio collectively earned 20 points for the Gators team.

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Gregory earned five more points for Florida in the men’s 200 meters. He earned fourth and outperformed his personal best with a time of 19.89.

In the final individual event of the day, redshirt junior Sean Dixon-Bodie earned his first individual NCAA Outdoor Championship as a Gator in the men’s triple jump. He placed fourth with a distance of 16.61 to also earn five points.

Entering the final event of the day, UF trailed Arkansas by five points. The 4x400 men’s relay team of Powell, Bamidele, Patterson and Willie continued momentum from day two as they won the relay title with a collegiate record time of 2:57.74. This secured the National Champions for the Gators.

“It is an incredible feeling.” Holloway said. “Our job was to come in here and win this one and that is what we did."

Florida’s women’s team will compete in the remaining finals and heptathlon Saturday at 5 p.m. Redshirt senior Sterling Lester begins the final day of the heptathlon competition with the long jump.

Contact Hailey Hurst at hhurst@alligator.org. Follow her on twitter @haileyjhurst.

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Hailey Hurst

Hailey Hurst is a second-year journalism major with a focus in sports media and a sports reporter for The Alligator. In her free time, she enjoys going to the beach and cheering for Miami sports teams.


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