Gators dominate field events to open home meet

AJ McFarland, of the University of Florida, throws the discuss at James G. Presley Stadium. i[Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun/File]

By Ricky Quintana, Correspondent

The first day of the Tom Jones Memorial Track and Field meet featured some great marks in the field events and some NCAA East regional qualifying times for the Florida Gators.

The biggest mark came in the women’s long jump. Kate Hall, the 2017 NCAA outdoor champion while at Georgia, made her outdoor professional debut with a win. Her leap of 6.70 meters (21 feet, 11.75 inches), was the fifth best jump in the world this year. Hall has been training indoors in Casco, Maine, and made the trek to Florida to take advantage of the sunny weather.

“I feel great,” said Hall, whose best jump is 22 feet 5 inches, which she did in setting the U.S. high school record. “I was hoping to improve upon my indoor performances and I did. I’m training up north in Maine, so this is the ideal conditions for jumping. My body feels great.”

In the men’s hammer throw, Gator sophomore Thomas Mardal threw 72.13 meters (236 feet, 7 inches) to win the competition and move him to No. 5 in the country. In the midst of exam week and recovering from an injury, Mardal could be excused for not hitting his best. However, he was a bit disappointed with his mark.

“It wasn’t the start of the season I wanted. I’m slowly getting to where I want to be,” said Mardal, who took a math quiz in the evening after his win. “Today I was trying to chase a big mark and ended up with a bunch of fouls. I wanted to get over 72 meters today and thankfully I did that.”

Today track action begins at 1 p.m. and will feature UF sophomore Grant Holloway in the 110-meter hurdles and 4 x 100-meter relay. Holloway owns the second fastest time in the collegiate history with a time of 13.15 and is only behind Renaldo Nehemiah’s 13.00, which was set on May 6, 1979. Holloway will try and help the Gators improve on their season best of 38.55, which they ran last week to beat top-ranked LSU on their home track. Also entered is No. 9 FSU.

Other Gator highlights:

In men’s high jump, senior Johnny Victor jumped 2.23 meters (7 feet, 3.75 inches) to win. It moved him to No. 4 in the NCAA — a personal best. That moved him into a tie with Mike Morrison for No.6 best in UF history.

Sophomore, Jacob Stanko took first place in the men’s javelin throw with a mark of 65.90 meters (216 feet, 2 inches).

In the men’s shot put, sophomore Connor Bandel won with a throw of 19.14 meters (62 feet, 9.5 inches).

In the women’s 5,000 meter, junior Jessica Pascoe ran 16 minutes and 17.12 seconds to earn a qualifying time for the NCAA East Regional.

Complete results at