Gators continue to shine at SEC track and field

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Special to Gatorsports.com

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Florida won two individual titles, broke a meet record and two facility records, and kept itself in the running to retain both team crowns on the second day of the SEC Outdoor Championships on Friday night.

Sophomore combined events athlete Amanda Froeynes entered the seventh and final event of the heptathlon, the 800 meters, trailing by 319 points – which meant she would need to finish the race almost 25 seconds faster than the leader (something unlikely, but not unheard of) to win. Froeynes set a personal record of 2:11.97 and crossed 24.95 seconds clear of six-event leader Tyra Gittens from Texas A&M. That gap was enough for Froeynes to win the heptathlon by eight points, a razor-thin margin, with the nation’s fourth-highest overall score (5,801 points).

Froeynes’ heptathlon title is the third in program history. The other two belong to Brittany Harrell (2012) and Heidi Mann (1987).

Senior Yanis David, who swept both the long jump and triple jump titles at February’s SEC Indoor Championships, broke the John McDonnell Field record en route to her third conference title of the year. David’s top mark of 6.65 meters (21 feet, 10 inches) secured the fourth SEC Outdoors long jump title in school history, and the first since Olympian Shara Proctor won two in a row in 2009 and 2010. Her mark also ranks second nationally.

Junior Grant Holloway broke the facility record and his own SEC Outdoors record in the 110-meter hurdles, as he ran the second-fastest time in collegiate history (13.07 seconds). Holloway, who last year ran what is now the third-fastest time in collegiate history (13.15) to set the previous meet record, will attempt to defend his title at 6:45 p.m. Saturday.

Later in the evening, the Chesapeake, Va., native scored three points with a sixth-place finish in the long jump.

Florida’s men also got five important points from junior Clayton Brown in the high jump, another four from redshirt sophomore Connor Bandel’s fifth-place finish in the shot put, three from freshman Trevor Foley in his first collegiate 3,000-meter steeplechase, and two from redshirt senior high jumper Jhonny Victor. Brown’s top clearance tied him for ninth nationally and secured an NCAA East Preliminary berth.

The Gators qualified relatively well as a whole, with sophomore Hakim Sani Brown once again leading the contingent.

Sani Brown, the top qualifier in Thursday’s 200 meters preliminary, threw down a wind-legal 10.10 seconds and was the fastest qualifier in the 100 meters prelim by almost two tenths of a second. His time also ranks sixth on the program’s All-Time Top 10 list.

Sophomore Imogen Barrett was the No. 2 qualifier in the women’s 1,500 meters. Senior and defending champion Sharrika Barnett easily won her women’s 400 meters heat to automatically advance, while freshman Doneisha Anderson ran a season-best time to qualify for the final. On the men’s side of the 400 meters, sophomore Benjamin Lobo Vedel ran a season-best time to earn a spot in Saturday’s final. And junior Raymond Ekevwo joined Sani Brown as a heat winner and finalist in the 100.

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