Special to Gatorsports.com
EUGENE, Ore. – Junior KeAndre Bates won his second long jump national title of the year, and freshman Grant Holloway finished right behind him, tallying 18 points Wednesday night for No. 2-ranked Florida to open the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Bates (8.05 meters / 26 feet, 5 inches), who won the indoor long jump national title in March, and Holloway (8.00 meters / 26 feet, 3 inches) are the second pair of teammates in Division I history to post a 1-2 finish in the long jump. Texas Southern’s Paul Emordi and Vernon George are the only other duo to accomplish the feat, doing so in 1987.
“I was just focusing on my execution, because I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing,” Bates said. “I had to really focus on being in the moment instead of thinking in my mind all the time. I really had to get out of my head. I was in my head from the beginning, because of the 4×100 (relay run) as well. But I got it together, made sure I got it together at the last jump. And it was my last jump! That was back to high school days. I’m happy. I’m good.”
Bates’ title is the third in school history, while Holloway became the fourth freshman since 1986 to post a top-two finish. They were also the only two men in the competition to hit the 8-meter mark, with Holloway finishing four centimeters clear of third place.
“It’s been phenomenal watching KeAndre, watching him grow up,” UF coach Mike Holloway said. “He’s got a big shadow cast on him. I’m sure someplace in the back of his mind he didn’t want to hear (Marquis) Dendy’s mouth if he let Grant beat him. That’s a great fraternity to have, with Dendy, Christian (Taylor), Will (Claye) and Omar (Craddock), that whole crew. It was fun to watch him.
“I was really happy for him, because we put him on the end of the 4×1 today, and he just didn’t quite have it. He felt really bad, because he felt like he let his teammates down, but he didn’t. He did the best he could, and it just wasn’t in the cards for us today.”
Holloway qualified for the 110-meter hurdles final as well. The SEC Freshman Runner of the Year’s time of 13.41 seconds was the second-fastest of the prelims and topped his previous personal record by 0.01 seconds. Moreover, the Chesapeake, Va. native improved his stature as the No. 3-ranked 110 hurdler in school history.
“Grant Holloway had a phenomenal day,” the UF coach said. “Runs a great leg on the 4×1, runs 13.41, long jumps 26-3, and, ok, I’ll just split 45 flat on the (4×400) relay because I can. That’s what we’re about. That’s why he came here. He wanted to be a part of something special.”
Defending national champion Eric Futch and 2016 national runner-up TJ Holmes both qualified for a loaded 400-meter hurdles final in impressive fashion.
Futch (48.66) lowered his personal record by 0.16 seconds to post the second-fastest qualifying time. The Darby, Pa. also improved his standing as the No. 3-ranked 400 hurdler in Gators’ history. Holmes easily won his heat in a smooth 49.26 seconds, just off his personal best of 49.10.
Futch, Holloway, and Holmes joined with senior Nick Uruburu to post the third-fastest preliminary time in the 4×400 relay (3:03.38), automatically qualifying for the final.
Senior Andres Arroyo qualified for his second NCAA Outdoors 800 meters final in the last three seasons. The 2016 Olympian posted the fifth-fastest overall time (1:46.89) to seize an at-large berth.
The Gators’ 18 points have them in third place, lurking behind No. 1 Texas A&M (21.5) and No. 12 Virginia (20). The men’s team champion will be crowned Friday, as the women take center stage Thursday (June 8).
“Very proud of Andres (Arroyo),” Holloway said. “We had a race plan going in and he executed to perfection. The 400 hurdlers (Eric Futch and TJ Holmes) did what they do. They did a wonderful job. Eric with another personal best, TJ looked phenomenal. I was really proud of the 4×4, Grant in the hurdles. Now we just have to come back and add those guys to the high jump, triple jump, come out here and roll the dice and see what happens.”