Special to Gatorsports.com
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Florida sophomore Thomas Mardal stole the hammer throw title from the defending champion on his final attempt, and redshirt junior Jessica Pascoe won the Gators’ first 10,000 meters crown since 2008 to cap a strong opening day at the SEC Outdoor Championships.
Pascoe, who had never run a 10,000 meters race prior to finishing seventh at SEC Outdoors last year, captured the program’s fifth title in the event. The Australian demolished the personal best she set in 2018, lowering it from 36:01.52 to 34:08.41. Pascoe’s time, which ranks fourth on UF’s All-Time Top 10 list, qualifies her for the NCAA East Preliminary as well.
Mardal entered the sixth round of throws in third place – behind last year’s champion, Georgia’s Denzel Comenentia, and teammate AJ McFarland – but he uncorked a personal record of 73 meters (239 feet, 6 inches) to win by five feet. Mardal’s title is the fourth in school history, and Florida’s first since current teammate Anders Eriksson won it as a freshman in 2016. Mardal, a native of Gloppen, Norway, topped his personal record by almost three feet and improved his standing as the No. 2-ranked hammer thrower in school history.
McFarland and Eriksson also came up big, posting third- and fifth-place finishes, respectively, to make it a 20-point showing for the Gators. McFarland’s season best of 70.99 meters (232 feet, 11 inches) moved him up to 10th nationally, while Eriksson opened his outdoor season with the nation’s No. 13-ranked mark (69.12 meters / 226 feet, 9 inches).
Florida’s women also got a point from redshirt senior Megan Reed. The softball player turned javelin thrower entered the competition seeded 12th, but she finished eighth and scored at a championship meet for the first time in her career.
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