AJ McFarland

Redshirt junior AJ McFarland placed sixth in the hammer throw at the SEC Outdoor Championship. His teammates, freshman Thomas Mardal and redshirt sophomore Anders Eriksson, finished fifth and second, respectively. 

The events at the Tom Jones Memorial unfolded like many of the Gators’ previous meets have this season.

The Florida men’s and women’s track and field teams had athletes take wins in numerous events. Several recorded personal-best marks and times, and the program’s record-breaking hurdler Grant Holloway made headlines after clocking the second-fastest 110-meter hurdles time in collegiate history.

But in Florida’s final home meet of 2018, three athletes showed that their consistent success has been a prime reason why the Gators’ men have remained at the top of the national rankings this season.

Anders Eriksson (ranked No. 3), Thomas Mardal (No. 7) and AJ McFarland (No. 16)  have remained in the NCAA-top 20 since the start of the outdoor season, and they’ve swept the hammer throw event in two of their three meets.

Eriksson’s breakout 2018 campaign began on March 23 at the FSU Relays – UF’s outdoor opener – where he broke the facility record at Mike Long Track with the No. 2 hammer throw mark (71.75) in the nation at the time.

The junior left the outdoor complex with just a centimeter to go to eclipse his own UF school record, and he surpassed that milestone twice in his next two meets.

He did it on March 30 at the Florida Relays -- topping that record by 1.55 meters with an NCAA-leading mark of 73.31 -- and again this past weekend at the Tom Jones Memorial with a throw of 73.58.

With the team’s biggest meets coming up in about a month, the 2016 outdoor All-American is on track to remain one of Florida’s top performers of the season as it attempts to collect it’s third straight national title.

“I know I’ve got more in me,” Eriksson said.

And he’ll get the chance to show it when he competes against some of the top throwers in the country at the conference and national meets.

Eriksson has been joined by another unsung hero in Mardal, the freshman from Gloppen, Norway.

Mardal debuted in Tallahassee with the No. 3 mark on UF’s All-Time Top Ten, a mark that was also good enough for second in the nation at the time. He followed with a throw of 71.88 that broke the record Eriksson held entering the Florida Relays.

And McFarland hasn’t been too far behind.

The redshirt junior entered outdoors coming off an indoor campaign in which he topped his own weight throw record in three consecutive meets.

This season, the indoor All-American has added to those accomplishments with a personal record in his season opener (67.31), and another PR at this weekend’s Tom Jones Memorial (67.99) to improve his mark at the No. 5 spot on the Gators’ All-Time Top Ten.

“I love everything I’ve seen out of them,” coach Mike Holloway said about the trio. “Just their hard work, their passion. Coach (Steve) Lemke does a phenomenal job with them.”

Follow Alanis Thames on Twitter @alanisthames and contact her at [email protected].