Grant Holloway raised his arms in celebration as he crossed the line to win his sixth high-hurdle championship. The junior from Chesapeake, Virginia, never left a national championship hurdle race without a gold medal. Now he will turn professional, according to coach Mike Holloway, leaving UF as one of the most decorated track athletes in the history of the NCAA and one of the best athletes to ever come through Gainesville.
The hurdler is not the only athlete saying goodbye to the Gators — this year’s roster featured 12 seniors, many of whom were major contributors to this season’s success for Florida. The men’s side won the indoor team national championship and was runner-up for the outdoor championship. The women finished in sixth place for both seasons. Here are the athletes UF will miss the most next season:
At 21 years old, Holloway has the 18th-fastest 110-meter hurdle time in history at 12.98 seconds. He is the only junior leaving the team, and for obvious reasons — he could compete in the 2020 Olympics and has potential to move even higher on that list.
The horizontal jumper from Lamentin, Guadeloupe, came into 2019 with no national championships to her name. She leaves the Gators with two, one in each of her jumps. She captured the triple jump crown during the indoor season and collected an outdoor title for the long jump in Austin, Texas, this past weekend to finish her career.
Barnett was by far the women’s best non-distance runner. She came away with bronze in the 400-meter dash in the national championship race and earned the only significant short-distance points for the UF women.
In 2014, throwers’ coach Steve Lemke received a phone call from a 386 number. It was a senior from Father Lopez High School wanting to try out for the team. Five years later, Lemke says goodbye to one of the team’s main leaders, AJ McFarland, who holds the school record in the weight throw. The throwers will still enter 2020 with reason for optimism, as sophomore Thomas Mardal was one spot away from bronze in Texas in the hammer throw and had a top-10 finish in the weight throw during the indoor season at No. 7.
Clark anchored the national championship-winning 4x100-meter men's relay team. With the exit of Holloway and Clark, half of Florida’s best relay will need to be replaced in 2020. Clark was the finisher for the first collegiate team to ever complete the lap in less than 38 seconds.
These departures leave the Gators with multiple holes that need filling heading into next season. However, the history of Mike Holloway’s teams (eight national titles and 14 SEC titles) prove he and his staff have the ability to deal with roster turnover. Holloway has seen plenty of it in his 17-year career as the Florida men’s coach and eight-year career as the women’s coach.
Follow Graham Marsh on Twitter @GrahamMarshUF. Contact him at [email protected].