Florida Gators continue success on weather-delayed final night of Pepsi Florida Relays

Special to Gator Sports
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After waiting hours to start, the Florida track and field teams were finally able to begin competition on Saturday night at the Pepsi Florida Relays on their home track.

Despite the seven-hour delay, the Gators turned in several personal bests, led by Imogen Barrett's NCAA-leading mark (2:02.02) in the 800 meters. She moved up to No. 4 in UF history.

Of the 11 Florida men and women to run the 800 meters on Saturday night, eight of them clocked personal bests. Sam Austin came from the back of the pack in the fast heat to run 1:48.15 on his outdoor debut, the sixth-best mark in the NCAA this season.

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Even in the rainy conditions, Florida got big performances in the short hurdles. Grace Stark went sub-13 with a time of 12.99 to open her season while Anna Hall followed behind at 13.63. Stark's time is good enough for ninth in the NCAA this season.

Osaji Skyers (14.44) and Caleb Foster (14.17) got personal bests in the 110-meter hurdles.

In the condensed schedule, Florida got season bests in the 4x100 and 4x400 from its women's team including legs from Hall and Talitha Diggs in both events. The Gators ran 43.69 in the 4x100 behind the team of Diggs, Stark, Cait Tate and Hall. That time sits No. 7 collegiately this season and ranks 10th in school history. Florida clocked 3:29.20 in the 4x400 relay, a time that ranks sixth collegiately this year. Diggs anchored the team of Hall, Sterling Lester and Vanessa Watson with a split of 51.34 on the final lap.

Joseph Fahnbulleh (10.22, No. 15 NCAA), Tyler Davis (10.41) and Dedrick Vanover (10.41) took the top three spots in 100 meters Saturday night.

Thea Jensen put up a big personal best with a throw of 16.65m/54-7.5 in the shot put. Her mark sits top-20 nationally through the weekend and ranks ninth in school history.

The Gators return to action in two weeks for the Tom Jones Memorial, the second of two meets in Gainesville this season.

SOFTBALL: The seventh-ranked Florida Gators (30-6, 7-5 SEC) clinched the weekend series over No. 17 Auburn (29-6, 7-5) on Sunday with a 3-0 victory at Jane B. Moore Field in Auburn, Ala. Florida's Elizabeth Hightower recorded five strikeouts and gave up three hits in a complete-game performance. Skylar Wallace and Katie Kistler each went 2 for 3 at the plate for the Gators. Florida lost Friday's series opener 3-1, but bounced back on Saturday to defeat Auburn, 7-6. UF blasted 13 hits with four doubles in the Saturday contest. After their victory Saturday, the softball team went to see their fellow Gators compete in the NCAA regional finals in gymnastics, also in Auburn. The gymnasts, who finished first to secure a spot in the NCAA finals, appreciated the support. "So grateful and so thankful for the Gator softball team that was here cheering on the Gators," gymnastics coach Jenny Rowland said Saturday night. 

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