Special to The Sun
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. –– The No. 3-ranked Florida men claimed the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday.
The SEC Indoor Championship is the fourth all-time for the Florida men and the first since 2015. It’s also the seventh overall SEC team title with Mike Holloway as men’s head coach.
“Some people underestimated us,” Holloway said. “I thought we could score 100 points. The biggest thing is, nobody else thought we could do that. We’ve been talking all week about trusting and believing in each other; we talked about having a razor-like focus this weekend, and that was the deal. It was unbelievable.”
The Gators scored 103 total team points to take home the title, while Arkansas was second with 88 and LSU was third with 78. Alabama was fourth was 73 points, followed by Texas A&M (72), Tennessee (50), Georgia (45), Ole Miss (44), Kentucky (31), South Carolina (29), Mississippi State (24), Missouri (17) and Auburn (8).
The Arkansas women won their ninth all-time SEC Indoor Championship and fifth in a row by scoring 151 total team points. Texas A&M was second with 70 points, ahead of Alabama (67), Florida (61), LSU (58), Kentucky (51), Georgia (49), Tennessee (40), Auburn (37), Missouri (25), Ole Miss (20), South Carolina (14), Mississippi State (10) and Vanderbilt (9).
Florida’s Grant Holloway won the men’s Cliff Harper Trophy, awarded to the high-points scorer at the SEC Indoor Championship, with 28 points, most since SEC records kept dating back to 1974.
“This is why I came back,” Holloway said. “This is the feeling I always love, when everybody is winning and not just me doing my own thing. To have everybody contribute to the team … everybody did what they had to do.”
There was a tie for the women’s Cliff Harper Trophy as Arkansas’ Taylor Werner and Florida’s Yanis David each scored 20 points.
The Gators were dominant enough to secure the team title before the 4×400 relay, always reserved for last at a championship meet. Florida totaled 103 points and, even without running a 4×4, finished 15 points clear of runner-up Arkansas.
Saturday marked the second time in nine SEC Indoor Championships in Fayetteville someone other than the host (Arkansas) took home the title. The other? Florida in 2011.
Redshirt senior AJ McFarland set the tone for the day, as he shattered his own school record and won the weight throw title on the sixth and final toss of an intense competition. McFarland led until the third-to-last throw, when the defending champion, Georgia’s Denzel Comenentia, seized it. The DeLand, Fla., native responded on the event’s final throw, uncorking a winning toss of 23.35 meters (76 feet, 7.25 inches), which was nearly two feet clear of Comenentia. McFarland entered the day with a school record of 22.58 meters (74 feet, 1 inch).
“Surreal,” McFarland said. “It’s something we’ve talked about, something I’ve dreamed about since the first day I got here. I knew I wanted an SEC gold. I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work. It’s not something I’m going to celebrate on my own, because there are a lot of people who invested a lot of time in me, in five years to get here. Family, friends, coaches. Everybody.”
Holloway swept the 60 meters and 60-meter hurdles titles. Combined with his silver medal in the long jump Friday, Holloway amassed 28 individual points, breaking the previous meet scoring record of 22.5 points.
Holloway won the 60 meters in a smooth 6.54 seconds, while he took the 60 hurdles title in 7.44 seconds, the third-fastest time in collegiate history and four hundredths of a second below the meet record he set in Friday’s preliminary. The Chesapeake, Va., native now owns the three fastest 60 hurdles times in collegiate history.
For the women, senior Yanis David completed her sweep of the horizontal jumps, taking the triple jump title with a nation-leading mark of 13.84 meters (45 feet, 5 inches). David became the fourth woman in history to sweep the long jump and triple jump, and joined Olympian Shara Proctor (2010) as the only other UF jumper to pull it off.
“It’s been a great weekend,” David said. “I had expectations, and I met them this weekend. I really hope it’s not the last. I’ll get back to Gainesville, work on everything and come back at nationals. In the triple, I’ve been struggling, but it means I’m finally back. Not my best yet, but I’m back. I can’t wait to show people what I’ve got in two weeks at nationals.”
Holloway’s time of 7.44 in the men’s 60 hurdles set an SEC Championship record. The previous record of 7.49 was set in 2015.
UF SEC Indoors Medalists Saturday
Clayton Brown, Men’s Triple Jump – Silver Medalist
Benjamin Lobo Vedel, Men’s 400 meters – Silver Medalist
Hakim Sani Brown, Men’s 60 meters – Silver Medalist
Sharrika Barnett, Women’s 400 meters – Bronze Medalist
Ryan Clark, Men’s 200 meters – Bronze Medalist
Natricia Hooper, Women’s Triple Jump – Bronze Medalist
Thomas Mardal (Weight Throw) – Bronze Medalist
Women’s 4×400 Relay (Taylor Manson, Nikki Stephens, Barnett, Doneisha Anderson) – Bronze Medalist