By Ricky Quintana, Correspondent
The Tom Jones Memorial track and field meet has always been a highlight of the University of Florida Track and Field season. It pits the world’s best against some of the collegiate best and is always a good barometer for the Gators as they head into the SEC and NCAA Championships in the months of May and June.
This year’s meet will have a different format. Instead of a one-day meet, it will be conducted in two days.
“The meet going to two days was so we could sort of mimic the conference meet. With that usually being right around the corner from Tom Jones, it just made sense for us to shift toward that kind of schedule,” UF coach Mike Holloway said.
Today’s action will begin with the field events beginning at 3 p.m. at Percy Beard Track. The 2016 Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta and 2019 NCAA Indoor champion Kate Hall will go head-to-head in the long jump on Florida’s new runway which sits in the infield in front of the grandstands. Also in the field will be former Gator, Darrielle McQueen, who was the 2018 NCAA runner-up last year in the long jump.
Friday will have track action, too. The women’s 200 meter will feature former Gator Kyra Jefferson, the 2017 NCAA champion and collegiate record holder. The 2012 100-meter Olympic Trials champion, English Gardner, will be in the field as well 2016 SEC Outdoor champion Felecia Brown.
Friday’s men’s 400-meter hurdles will also be a highlight, as 2017 NCAA and USA champ Eric Futch, another former Gator, will test his mettle against newcomers Thomas Burns, of Miami, and Florida’s own Cory Poole, who are ranked No. 11 and No. 13, respectively, in Division 1.
Saturday’s action will only heat up as some of the world’s best prepare for the upcoming season, which will include the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, Sept. 27-Oct. 2. The biggest of all the names will be Noah Lyles. Born and raised in Gainesville until the age of eight, Lyles has become the heir apparent to Usain Bolt — the Jamaican sprint wunderkind. Lyles has already run faster than Bolt — he is only 21 — at the same age and will make his seasonal debut in the 100 meters on Saturday at 3:50 p.m.
Saturday’s competition begins at 10 a.m. with the field events and running events beginning at 1 p.m. Admission is free. A complete schedule for both days can be found at https://s3.amazonaws.com/sidearm.sites/gatorzone.com/documents/2018/9/14/2019_Tom_Jones_Information.pdf
If you go
What: Tom Jones Memorial track and field meet
Where: Percy Beard Track at James G. Pressly Stadium on UF campus
When: 3 p.m. today, 10 a.m. Saturday
Parking: Prior to 3:30 p.m. today, fans may only park along Fraternity Row; after 3:30 p.m., campus parking restrictions are lifted for all lots, including UF Law School.