Another successful day for Florida's track and field program

Ricky Quintana
Special to The Sun

Six months ago, coach Mike Holloway was not certain there would be a Florida Relays this year.

Saturday, the Florida track and field teams built on their indoor season success to show improvement on the second day of the Florida Relays at Percy Beard Track.

In the marquee event of the meet, the Gators 4 x 100 meter relay team was behind the USC Trojans on the final baton exchange, but the Trojans dropped the baton and the Gators raced to victory in a time of 38.89. The team of Dedrick Vanover, Clayton Brown, Tyler Davis and anchor Joseph Fahnbulleh’s time tied the seventh fast in the world and fifth fastest time in the NCAA this year.

The team order was decided minutes before the race when Raymond Ekevwo, the second leg, had tightness in his calf warming up. Clayton Brown, competing in the triple jump passed on his last two jumps and filled in without missing a beat.

“As a Gator, you have to be ready when coach calls you up. I was ready,” said Brown, who competed in four events — the 100 meters, triple jump, high jump and 4 x 100 meter relay on Friday and Saturday. “It’s been a busy week. I’ve never done four events in one weekend before. It feels good to know I have that kind of stamina in me.”

Gator freshman Claire Bryant followed her win in the long jump Friday — 21 feet, 11 inches — with a third-place tie in the women’s high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 8.75 inches. That tied her for eighth place all time at UF. Her long jump mark tied her for third best mark in UF history and third best in the NCAA. The young phenom has found new confidence in herself since the indoor championships.

“I told the coaches that I would jump a personal record Friday night. I just felt it. I wanted to keep that energy throughout my outdoor season,” Bryant said.

Holloway was quick to choose Ryan Willie’s new personal best of 45.12 in the 400-meter dash to finish third as one of the highlights of the meet. The time was the seventh fastest in school history and the fifth fastest time in the nation and world this year.

“I was really impressed with Ryan. He was a 46.6 guy in high school and opened with a 45.1 which is incredible,” Holloway said.

Full results can be found at https://tf.deltatiming.com/florida/2021-florida-relays

Gator highlights from Saturday:

• Joseph Fahnbulleh followed his win in the 200 Friday with another come-from-behind effort to win the 100 meters in a time of 10.23.

• Gator freshman Vasileia Spryou won the 3,000-meter run going away in a splendid time of 9:31.67.

• Florida junior Natricia Hooper won the triple jump with a jump of 44 feet, 2 inches.

• Gator sophomore Gabrielle Wilkinson won the 800 meter in a time of 2:03.88. The time was the third fastest in the NCAA and the sixth fastest time in Florida history.

• Gator senior Marshall Dillon earned his first win in track-and-field competition, finishing the 3,000 meter in 8:22.30.