Florida won their second straight men’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship today in cold, breezy, and wet weather at historic Hayward Field.
The Gators entered the day trailing Texas A&M by 13½ points, but they had nine entries today to the Aggies’ seven. Moreover, they were better entries, ones more likely to score and to contend for wins.
Three Gators did in fact win their events. Freshman Grant Holloway got it started for Florida with a win in the 110 hurdles. He had a healthy lead by halfway but it dwindled as they approached the finish. He held on to win by 0.05 over Alabama’s Reuben Walters.
The second win took a little while but KeAndre Bates got it done in the triple jump. He had a bit of a back-and-forth battle with Arkansas’ Clive Pullen but by the third round he held the lead and kept it. Wyoming’s Scott Carter came from way off the formcharts for a surprise third.
The final and most crucial win was in the 400 hurdles. Eric Futch was the defending champion but had his hands full with Arkansas’ Kemar Mowatt, the man who beat him at the SEC Championships and had the fastest qualifier in Wednseday’s semis. Only on the run-in from the last hurdle did he edge ahead to win.
The Gators did little things well too. Jhonny Victor managed a seventh-place tie in the high jump for 1½ points. Andres Arroyo, a fast half-miler who has always come up short at the NCAAs, finished out his career with a gutsy run to get four points in the 800. To seal the win, the 4×400 merely had to avoid disaster, and they ran a tough 3:02.16 for fourth.
Texas A&M won their strengths –the 400 with collegiate record holder Fred Kerley and the 4×400 relay – but they needed more than that and just couldn’t get it. The 4×100 relay took fourth, about as best as could be expected, but after that the cupboard was bare. Freshman half-miler Devin Dixon was overmatched in the 800 and scored just two points, and 400 hurdler Robert Grant pressed too hard, hit a hurdle and fell.
The Three Stars
In the style of pro hockey, our choices for the meet’s three most outstanding individuals…
The First Star: Christian Coleman
Who else could it be? On Wednesday he ran a stunning 9.82 in the 100 meter semifinals, a huge collegiate record and good for #10 on the all-time world list. Today he swept the 100 and 200 meter finals in times that appear much more ordinary—until you factor in the wind. His 10.04 into a -2.1 m/s headwind factors out to 9.90 in still air (and the relatively cold temperature has an additional slowing effect). He completed the rare indoor 60/200 and outdoor 100/200 quadruple win. I think the last to do that was Justin Gatlin, a fellow Tennessee Volunteer, back in 2002.
The Second Star: Filip Mihaljevic
Mihaljevic took the lead in Wednesday’s shot put on his first attempt and it was good enough to win, but came through on his final attempt with a personal record of 21.30 meters (69-10¾). For today’s discus he wasn’t even in the top twelve seeds and threw out of the B-section, but got into the final. He trailed until his very final attempt when he won it with, yes, one more PR: 63.76 (209-2) on the last throw of his collegiate career. He accounted for 20 of Virginia’s 36 points (all scored by throwers), enough to win the third-place trophy.
The Third Star: Fred Kerley
Kerley set the collegiate 400 meter record two weeks ago and didn’t approach it today, but he still won in impressive fashion. 44.10 in cold, damp, and windy conditions is nothing to sneeze at. He anchored Texas A&M’s winning 4×400 relay with a 43.93 split while running from behind. Their 2:59.98 today and 2:59.95 on Wednesday make the Aggies the first collegiate team ever to break 3:00.00 twice in one year.