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Monday, June 17, 2024

Florida track and field brings home men’s national title, seven medals from NCAA Outdoor Championships

The Gators earned their 14th national championship in program history

<p>Coach Mike Holloway shares a smile after the Gators qualify for the 2018 NCAA East Preliminary meet finals.</p>

Coach Mike Holloway shares a smile after the Gators qualify for the 2018 NCAA East Preliminary meet finals.

The Florida Gators men’s and women’s track and field teams had a dominant weekend at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Outdoor Championships in Austin, Texas.

Multiple athletes earned individual national titles as the Gators brought home seven medals and their 14th national title in program history.

The four-day event finished with the men’s team crowned 2023 National Outdoor Champions and the women’s team finishing runner-up in team competition.

The men’s team entered the event ranked fourth in the nation with nine athletes competing in eight events. The women’s team entered the event ranked second in the nation with 14 athletes competing in 16 events.

Six semifinal events took place June 7. 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 they won their heat with a time of 38.22.

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 Patterson, Willie, redshirt Junior Jevaughn Powell and sophomore Emmanuel Bamidele set a meet record time of 2:58.62. They placed first in the semifinals.

The women’s team faced nine semifinal events. Junior Talitha Diggs advanced in the 400m and 200m races. Diggs ran the fifth-fastest time in the country of 50.35 in the 400m and a new personal best of 22.45 in the 200m.

After an impressive day one, the Gators women’s team continued the momentum, advancing three entries to the finals Saturday.

UF redshirt junior Jasmine Moore secured bronze in the women’s long jump with a distance of 6.66m. She has won a medal in every horizontal jump championship competition as a Gator.

On the final day for the men’s team, the 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.

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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UF’s men’s team trailed Arkansas by five points entering the final event of the day. 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. The win secured the national championship for the Gators men’s team.

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

Less than 24 hours later, the women’s team came close to their third team national championship in program history.

Moore led the day with a gold medal in the triple jump competition. She broke her third collegiate record with a distance of 14.78m. The star jumper has won four-straight triple jump titles.

Freshman Alida Van Daalen earned bronze, the first medal of her career in an NCAA Championship. Daalen threw her personal best in the discus with a distance of 59.96m.

In the last women’s race of the day, redshirt sophomore Parker Valby earned a national title in the 5000m. Valby set a facility record running a time of 15:30.57.

Florida’s women’s team finished runner-up in the team competition with 51 points to Texas’ 83 points. The men’s team earned its 11th National Championship and the 14th overall National title for Florida’s track and field programs.

Contact Hailey Hurst at 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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