Florida athletes produce top times, distances at Florida Relays

Ricky Quintana
Special to The Sun
Joseph Fahnbulleh, center, a Florida Gators sprinter, runs in the men's 200m race where he would finish with a personal best 20.10 and win the race Friday during the 2021 Pepsi Florida Relays at Percy Beard Track at the Florida campus.

Cooler than normal temperatures proved to be ideal for Gators athletes and others Friday night in the opening day of the Florida Relays at Percy Beard Track.

In one of the most anticipated races of the evening, the men’s 200 meters, heralded redshirt freshman Joseph Fahnbulleh came from behind in the last 75 meters to win in a time of 20.10 seconds. That was second fastest time in the NCAA and in the world this year. It was also the sixth fastest run in Florida history.

“Coach (Mike) Holloway and I have been talking about execution and that was the big word for today,” said the third-place finisher at the NCAA Indoor track and field championships in March. “I wanted to go 19 today. That was the whole mindset. 20.10 was still good. I think me, Terrence Laird of LSU and Matthew Boling of Georgia could go 19.6. It’s all in the realm of possibility. But I’m not chasing a goal, I’m just trying to execute my race plan.”

With that kind of time, Fahnbulleh would be a contender for the NCAA Outdoor 200-meter title and also for a berth on the U.S. Olympic team.

NCAA indoor weight throw champion and school-record holder, Thomas Mardal, continued his record-setting year by winning the hammer throw with a school record and NCAA leading throw of 248 feet, 7 inches. That mark eclipsed his own school record of 243 feet, 7 inches set in 2020, was 11 feet better than the best throw in the NCAA this year and tied the 10th best throw in the world this year.

Florida had other outstanding performances across the board.

• Cade Monk, the Buchholz High grad and Gator redshirt freshman, stormed from seventh to third in the final lap to set a personal best of 3:45.07. The time was just outside Florida’s all-time top 10.

• Gator sophomores Imogen Barrett and Gabrielle Wilkinson finished second and third, respectively, in the women’s 1500m in 4:15.67 and 4:16.85. The marks were good for second and sixth fastest in the nation this year.

• Gator senior Clayton Brown won the high jump with a height of 7 feet, 3.75 inches. It was the second best jump in the nation this year.

• Gator senior Connor Bandel threw 64 feet, 1.25 inches to win the shot put. The mark moved him to fourth best in Florida history and was the seventh best throw in the NCAA this year.

• Gator sophomore Trevor Foley won the steeplechase in 8:53.27, which was the second fastest time in the NCAA. It was a personal best by 13 seconds and moved him to 10th fastest in Florida history.

• In the final race of the night, Gator freshman Stephanie Ormsby ran 15:54.73 to win the women’s 5,000 meters. The time was nearly two minutes faster than she ran in high school and moved her to third fastest in Florida history and 10th fastest in the NCAA.

The second day of the Florida Relays begins at noon Saturday and promises to be another record setting day. Friday's full results can be found here.