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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Florida track and field comes out strong on Day 1 of SEC Indoor Championships

The Gators had a successful first day with multiple SEC medalists and finals qualifiers

The Florida men's track and field team runs in the Pepsi Florida Relays, Friday, March 31, 2023.
The Florida men's track and field team runs in the Pepsi Florida Relays, Friday, March 31, 2023.

With two runners in front of him, freshman Parvej Khan calmly moved to the outside going into the final turn. Effortlessly, Khan breezed past his competition, widening the gap and securing himself a comfortable first place spot. With a time of 4 minutes, 1.05 seconds, Khan punched his ticket to the men’s 1-mile finals. 

Khan was not the only member of Florida’s track and field teams to find success on Day 1 of the SEC Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Between the men's and women’s teams, there were four individual medalists. The women’s distance medley relay team also medaled. Additionally, UF qualified in nine events for the finals on Saturday.

The day started with the men’s heptathlon in which senior Oliver Thorner was the lone Gator competing. He finished with a personal best time in the 60-meter and fifth overall. In the long jump, Thorner came in third with a personal best distance of 7.11. In both the shot put and the high jump, he finished fourth behind three Arkansas Razorbacks but recorded two more personal bests. He will start the finals in fifth place overall for the heptathlon.

The next event, the women’s 1-mile, saw three Gators compete and all three qualified for the final. Senior Flomena Asekol qualified for second place with a time of 4:41.54. Freshman Lucinda Rourke recorded a personal best time of 4:43.16, which earned her seventh place. Elise Thorner, a senior, finished just behind in eighth with a time of 4:43.67.  

In the women’s 60, senior Grace Stark punched her ticket to the finals with a time of 7.23. She qualified fifth overall. 

Sophomore Wanya McCoy qualified first in the men’s 60 thanks to a personal best time of 6.58. Robert Gregory, a senior, also qualified for the finals with a personal best time of 6.65 and a fifth-place finish. 

The women’s 400 featured Florida senior Laila Owens, who failed to qualify for the finals but recorded a personal best time of 52.81.

The men’s 400 saw two finals qualifiers for the Gators with senior Jevaughn Powell and junior Reheem Hayles. Powell qualified first with a personal-best of 45.35, and Hayes qualified in seventh with a season-best time of 46.25.

Florida had two top-five qualifiers in the men’s 800 with junior Sam Austin, who finished third, and freshman Miguel Pantojas, who finished fifth. 

Both the men’s and women’s teams featured qualifiers in the 60-meter hurdles. For the women, senior Grace Stark qualified first for the finals. Junior Joshua Brockman qualified third for the men behind a personal best time of 7.75. 

Senior Amelia Mazza-Downie was the first medalist of the day for the Gators, securing the bronze in the women’s 5,000-meter. She recorded her season-best time on her way to the podium.

Wanya McCoy secured first place and his second personal best time in the men’s 200. Robert Gregory also competed in his second event of the day, qualifying in fourth.

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The field event finals saw more success from UF, with three athletes finishing on the podium. In the women’s long jump final, senior Claire Bryant took home the gold with a season-best jump of 6.72, earning her first SEC Individual Championship. 

The Gators secured two spots on the podium in the men’s long jump with junior Malcolm Clemons earning the silver and junior Caleb Foster earning the bronze. They both recorded season-best jumps. Senior Sean Dixon-Bodie finished fourth for Florida. 

Day 1 wrapped up with both the men’s and women’s distance medley relay final. The women’s DMR team won gold by setting a meet record time of 10:53.29. The men finished fifth with a time of 9:46.84. 

All qualifying Florida athletes will continue the competition in the SEC Indoor Championship finals on Saturday.

Both teams currently sit in second place in the competition, both behind Arkansas. The women are seven points behind the Razorbacks with a score of 30 and the men trail the Razorbacks by 21 with a score of 23. 

Contact Hannah Getman at hgetman@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @hannahgetman.

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