EUGENE, Ore. – Senior javelin thrower Marija Vucenovic finished second on Day 2 of the NCAA Outdoor Championships, which saw the women take center stage, and the Gators score 10 points and qualified four of their six preliminary entries to Saturday’s finals.
Vucenovic, a fifth-year senior, ended her career on the highest of high notes, topping her personal record twice earning runner-up honors. Vucenovic opened with a throw of 58.01 meters (190 feet, 4 inches) and posted a top throw of 58.58 meters (192 feet, 2 inches), moving her to No. 2 on the Gators’ All-Time Top 10.
“It was amazing out there,” UF coach Mike Holloway said. “Fifth-year senior coming back from injury, had some ups and downs. But the best thing for me today was, she led through the first four rounds, got passed in the fifth round, and for her to come back and go another two feet farther in an attempt to catch her, that’s what we’re all about. I was really proud of her finish today.”
The Serbian, who also finished second in 2013 and fifth last year, became just the ninth woman since 1995 with three career top-5 finishes at NCAA Outdoors.
Junior Lloydricia Cameron scored two points for the Gators with a seventh-place finish in the shot put. The Miami native has finished seventh overall at each of the last three NCAA Championships. Cameron’s top mark of 17.28 meters (56 feet, 8.5 inches) was the second-best throw of her outdoor career.
Two of the Gators’ four running entries that qualified for finals did so by way of Florida All-Time Top 10 times.
The women’s 4×100 relay quartet of Skylar Ross-Ransom, Shayla Sanders, Destinee Gause, and Kyra Jefferson posted the fastest qualifying time (42.91 seconds). Their time makes them the No. 3-ranked 4×1 crew in school history, and it tied the 12th-fastest time in NCAA Outdoor Championships history.
Sophomore Sharrika Barnett lowered her 400 meters personal record for a second straight race, clocking the third-fastest time of the prelims (51.67). The time also improved her stature as the No. 8-ranked outdoor quarter-miler in school history.
Jefferson, the two-time SEC Outdoor 200 meters champion, also logged the fourth-fastest qualifying time in the 200 prelim, winning her heat in 22.60 seconds.
Barnett, Gause, and Jefferson combined with Taylor Sharpe for the 4×400 relay, ending the night with the second-fastest qualifying time (3:29.45) in the preliminary.
Although she missed the final by one hundredth of a second, Ross-Ransom topped her 100 hurdles personal record by 0.10 seconds, finishing ninth with a time of 13.11, the No. 6-ranked time on the Gators’ All-Time Top 10.
Florida’s women sit in a tie for seventh place with 10 points, though they are within four points of everyone but No. 6 Georgia (24.2 points), which holds the lead after one day. The women’s team champion will be determined Saturday.
“Thought we did a phenomenal job in the 4×1, Kyra (Jefferson) in the 200, Sharrika (Barnett) in the 400, and the 4×4,” Holloway said. “Was also very pleased with Skylar Ross-Ransom. She was the first girl out, new personal best. Shayla (Sanders) has a little stomach issue going on, but I thought she performed very well, too. Overall, we had a great day. Looking forward to coming back out here Saturday and getting after it again.”
UF’s men, who scored 18 points Wednesday, return to action looking to defend their outdoor national title this evening. The Gators are in a tie for third place, lurking behind No. 1 Texas A&M (31.5 points) and No. 12 Virginia (20).
— Special to Gatorsports.com