It came down to the final competition.
UF’s track and field teams sat atop the standings on both sides heading into the 4x400 relays. The men had a 7.34-point edge over second-place Alabama, and the women clung to a half-point lead over LSU.
Taylor Manson bent into her starting position needing her group to finish ahead of LSU -- or at least fifth place if Texas A&M won -- to get the title.
She later joined Sharrika Barnett, Nikki Stephens and Taylor Sharpe upon the podium after they finished runner up (3:27.30) to Kentucky’s relay team.
“Can I get water?” Sharrika Barnett could be heard on the SEC Network broadcast attempting to catch her breath as she and her teammates piled on top of each other on the ground of LaPorte Stadium.
Moments later, Kunle Fasasi stared at the winding track ahead of him, needing his team of Chantz Sawyers, Benjamin Lobo Vedel and Grant Holloway to end in at least sixth place for the title.
Behind that finish of 3:02.17 on the final day of the SEC Outdoor Championships, Florida swept the conference meet in Knoxville, Tennessee.
It was the first time in school history that the program had accomplished the feat. And it was just one of the triumphs of Florida track and field on Sunday.
Holloway became second man in history to win both the 110-meter hurdles and the long jump. The sophomore clocked a time of 13.15 on Sunday to break Florida’s school record and the SEC Outdoors meet record previously set by Aries Merritt in 2006. Holloway now holds the top mark in the world for the 110-meter hurdles.
For the first time in her collegiate career, Barnett took the SEC Title in the women’s 400-meter dash. Her time of 50.69 broke the school record of 50.89 set by Tiandra Ponteen in 2005.
A few silver medal performances came from field athletes Lloydricia Cameron, Yanis David and Clayton Brown.
Cameron took runner up in the women’s discus with a top throw of 55.05 meters, and David’s triple jump mark of 14.05 was farther than all but Georgia senior Keturah Orji’s mark of 14.62. Orji also kept the SEC title from David in the women’s long jump on the second day of competition, beating the junior by 14 centimeters.
Brown grabbed second in the men’s triple jump with a top mark of 16.42 meters. It ranks seventh in school history. The sophomore from St. Andrew, Jamaica, returned to the pit later in the day for another runner-up finish in the high jump competition. He concluded with a top jump of 2.25 meters.
The 4x100 relay team of Holloway, Sawyers, Michael Timpson Jr. and Ryan Clark grabbed third place points for the Gators, as did senior KeAndre Bates in the men’s triple jump, sophomore Elisabeth Bergh in the women’s 1500-meter run and freshman Cory Poole in the men’s 400-meter hurdles.
The relay quartet finished with a season-best time of 38.95, Bergh finished her race in 4:21.25 and Poole crossed in 50.09.
Bates’ third place points garnered from his mark of 16.23 meters in the triple jump, combined with those of Brown and freshman enzo Hodebar added 15 points to the Gators’ total on the men’s side.
And in addition to competing in the 400-meter hurdles, Poole also lined up alongside Holloway in the 110-meter hurdles, and leaned across the line for a fourth- place time of 13.68.
Jack Guyton, who finished in 3:47.69 in the 1500 meter, and freshman Chantz Sawyers, who finished in 45.62 in the 400, kept the men atop the rankings with their fourth place finishes in their respective races.
Junior Kyren Hollis’ personal record time of 1:48.20 (fourth place) in the 800-meter added to the men’s seating at No. 1 in the standings.
The Gators will return to competition on May 24 and 25 for the NCAA East Preliminary before Outdoor National Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
You can follow Alanis Thames on Twitter @alanisthames or contact her at [email protected].