Special to Gatorsports.com
AUSTIN, Texas. – Florida’s men broke two collegiate records and another school record with one of the top five performances in collegiate history, which propelled the Gators to their 23rd top-2 finish in the last 34 NCAA Championships. Florida was the runner-up team at this year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships, as it finished 10 points behind Texas Tech.
The massive haul of top-2 finishes at a 67.6-percent clip dates back to 2003, when Mike Holloway took over as men’s head coach. No other program in the country boasts more than nine top-2 finishes during that span. The Gators also have a pair of third-place finishes in that time frame.
The Gators’ historic day was summed up in five incredible numbers: 37, 12.98, 2:59, 9.97, and 20.08.
Florida’s 4×100 relay shattered the collegiate record and became the first sub-38-second team in NCAA history, winning its first national title in the event since repeating as champions in 2013 and 2014. Junior Raymond Ekevwo, sophomore Hakim Sani Brown, junior Grant Holloway, and senior Ryan Clark clocked a time of 37.97 seconds, breaking the collegiate record of 38.17 set by Houston at last year’s NCAA Outdoors.
Florida’s seven all-time NCAA titles in the event – all of which have come since 2000 – are the third-highest total in Division I history. The Gators’ seven national titles since 2000 also lead all Division I programs.
Holloway came back 40 minutes later and three-peated as the 110-meter hurdles champion with time of 12.98 seconds, which broke Renaldo Nehemiah’s 40-year-old collegiate record of 13.00 seconds, set May 5, 1979. It also tied Americans Mark Crear (1999) and Jason Richardson (2012) for the No. 18 ranking on the world all-time list.
Holloway’s victory makes him the first collegian in history to sweep the 60-meter hurdles (indoor) and 110-meter hurdles titles three consecutive years. The Chesapeake, Va., native also joins Southern California’s Jack Davis as the only other collegian in history to win three consecutive outdoor high hurdles titles, as Davis won the 120-yard high hurdles from 1951-53.
His title is the fifth in program history, with the other two belonging to Josh Walker (2004, 2005).
Holloway’s pair of titles Friday give him eight for his career, which broke Marquis Dendy’s school record of seven individual national championships.
Sani Brown also came back and turned in impressive performances at both 100 and 200 meters, capturing bronze medals in both events.
The Tokyo, Japan native clocked a wind-legal 9.97 seconds in the 100 meters, breaking Bernard Williams’ 19-year-old school record of 9.99 seconds from the 2000 NCAA Outdoor Championships. His time also broke the Japanese record of 9.98 seconds.
Roughly 45 minutes later, Sani Brown clocked a wind-legal 20.08 seconds in the 200 meters, topping his personal best of 20.13. The time makes him the No. 2-ranked 200 runner in Japanese history, and ranks him fourth on the program’s all-time top 10 list.
Florida capped the meet with a stunning runner-up finish in the 4×400 relay. Sophomores Benjamin Lobo Vedel and Chantz Sawyers, junior Denzel Villaman, and Holloway combined to run 2:59.60 and break Florida’s five-year-old school record of 2:59.73. The time also equaled the fourth-fastest time in collegiate history. Holloway split an insane 43.75 seconds – by far the fastest split in the field – on the anchor leg, as he moved the Gators from fourth to second with an extraordinary effort on the homestretch.
Saturday’s women’s competition is on ESPN2 at 6:30 p.m.