UF women finish second at SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships

Special to Gatorsports.com

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Florida women’s track and field team finished second at the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships, collecting one gold medal and securing top-three finishes on Saturday night.

“Phenomenal job," Florida coach Mike Holloway said of the Gator women's team. "You bring 14 girls into this meet and actually 12 of them competed. Of the 12 who put the uniform on and competed, they all scored. For them to be second in this league with 12 girls was phenomenal.”

The UF men finished fifth with one individual crown, one silver and two bronze medals for a total of 57 team points.

“We fired the bullets that we had," Holloway said of his men. "We've got to get a little tougher. I know we had some people down and we were missing some people, but we had some people here that just aren't buying. I'm the head coach and that's my deal. I've got to fix that.”

The No. 3-ranked Arkansas men's team and the No. 1-ranked Arkansas women claimed the meet title.

Florida newcomer Talitha Diggs and senior Taylor Manson shined during the last day of competition inside the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, as the freshman claimed the SEC title in the 400 meters while Manson was the runner-up.

Diggs logged a personal-best time of 51.14 seconds, making her the second-fastest 400-meter runner in the NCAA this year and third-fastest in UF history. Meanwhile, Manson crossed in 51.82 seconds to land on the No. 3 spot of this year’s NCAA Division I Indoor Qualifying list.

Gabrielle Wilkinson finished second in the 800 meters after logging a personal-best time of 2:02.85.  Sophomore Semira Killebrew finished third in the 60 meters with a time of 7.21 seconds.

Out on the field, jumper Natricia Hooper collected a bronze medal following a 13.45-meter (44 feet, 1.50 inches) leap, while thrower Thea Jensen entered UF’s record books with a personal-best shot put mark of 16.56 meters (54 feet, 4 inches) to finish third in the SEC.

The 4x400-meter relays squad, formed by Manson, Diggs, Sterling Lester and Lauryn Ghee, closed things up for the Gators with a time of 3:31.75 and a third-place finish. 

Saturday’s seven top-3 finishes on the women’s side added to the two silver medals earned by the DMR team and Sterling Lester (Pentathlon) on Thursday for a total of nine medals.

On the men’s side, the Gators added a silver medal and two bronze during the last day of competition.

Sophomore Joseph Fahnbulleh finished second in the 200 meters, after logging a personal-best time of 20.32 seconds. 

Freshman Ryan Willie improved his 400-meters time, crossing in 45.66 seconds to finish third in the conference.

Out on the field, thrower Connor Bandel finished third in the shot put with a mark of 18.98 meters (62 feet, 3.25 inches).

The men left this year’s Indoor SEC championship meet with a total of four medals, including Thomas Mardal’s gold for his weight throw record-breaking performance during the first day of competition. Mardal was crowned SEC champion Thursday after throwing for 24.16 meters (79 feet, 3.25 feet), breaking UF's and an SEC championship meet 11-year-old record. His new personal best made him the fifth-furthest performer in collegiate history.

Other notable performances included personal records by triple jumpers Malcolm Clemons and Jonathan Miller. The duo finished fourth and fifth in the conference, respectively, after both logged a mark of 16.08 meters (52 inches, 9.25 inches) to share the No. 9 spot on UF’s Indoor All-Time Top 10 list.

On the women’s side, runners Abbie Harrelson (2:07.09) and Imogen Barrett (4:38.12) logged personal records in the 800 meters and the mile, respectively.

UF's SEC Indoor medalists

Thomas Mardal, Men’s Weight Throw – 2021 Indoor SEC Champion

Talitha Diggs, Women’s 400 meters – 2021 Indoors SEC Champion

Joseph Fahnbulleh, Men’s 200 meters – Silver medalist

Taylor Manson, Women’s 400 meters – Silver medalist

Gabrielle Wilkinson, Women’s 800 meters – Silver medalist

Gabrielle Wilkinson, Lauryn Ghee; Abbie Harrelson; Imogen Barrett, Women’s DMR – Silver medalists

Sterling Lester, Women’s Pentathlon – Silver medalist

Ryan Willie, Men’s 400 meters – Bronze medalist

Semira Killebrew, Women’s 60 meters –Bronze medalist

Taylor Manson, Talitha Diggs, Sterling Lester, Lauryn Ghee, Women’s 4x400-meter relays – Bronze medalists

Natricia Hooper, Women’s Triple Jump – Bronze medalist

Thea Jensen, Women’s Shot Put – Bronze medalist

Connor Bandel, Men’s Shot Put – Bronze medalist