Special to Gatorsports.com
EUGENE, Ore. — Florida’s men racked up 13 points to open the NCAA Outdoor Championships Wednesday evening at Historic Hayward Field. The Gators also qualified for three Friday finals on the track.
Florida opened the day with 11 points from its trio of hammer throwers, led by junior Anders Eriksson’s runner-up finish. Eriksson’s silver medal matched Jeremy Postin (2012) for the best finish in school history. Entering his sixth and final throw, however, Eriksson sat in seventh place before improving to 73.76 meters (242 feet), which was nearly two feet clear of the bronze medalist.
Freshman Thomas Mardal set a 1-foot personal record to take seventh and score two points, while redshirt junior AJ McFarland demolished his previous personal record by more than 10 feet to take eighth place and add another point. It is the first time in school history multiple Gators scored in the event at NCAA Outdoors.
Together, they are only the sixth trio of hammer throwers to score at NCAA Outdoors since 1966, joining Virginia Tech (2006), UTEP (1993), SMU (1981, 1982), and Army (1966).
Florida’s other two points came from KeAndre Bates and his seventh-place finish in the long jump. Bates joined Dion Bentley (1990, 1993-94) and Mike Morrison (2004-06) as the only other men in school history to score in the long jump at three NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Florida’s team aspirations took a slight hit with sophomore Grant Holloway, the No. 2-ranked long jump entrant, finishing ninth and out of the scoring.
On the track, the star performance of the day came from the 4×100 relay team of junior Michael Timpson Jr., freshman Chantz Sawyers, Holloway, and junior Ryan Clark. The quartet combined to finish in 38.49 seconds, the fastest time in the NCAA this year and the No. 3-ranked time in school history. The Gators last broke 38.50 seconds at the 2014 Texas Relays, where they ran a school record and the third-fastest time in collegiate history (38.29).
Sawyers and Holloway both came back and ran with junior Kunle Fasasi and freshman Benjamin Lobo Vedel for Florida’s 4×400 relay, which qualified for Fridays final with the third-fastest overall time.
Holloway also recorded the second-fastest qualifying time in the 110-meter hurdles, winning his heat and automatically advancing to Friday’s final.
Freshman Cory Poole barely missed the 400-meter hurdles final, despite running the eighth-fastest time of the evening (50.68). Poole was 0.19 seconds shy of the final.
ESPN will continue to provide live television and streaming coverage for the remaining three days of competition, including standalone streams dedicated to field events.
· Thursday TV Broadcast / Streams – 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
o Women’s Javelin Throw stream: 8:05 p.m. (ESPN3)
o Women’s Long Jump stream: 8:20 (ESPN3)
o Women’s Shot Put stream: 9 p.m. (ESPN3)