Two events, three years, six championships.
That is what junior Grant Holloway is trying to accomplish this weekend at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. He could become the first person in NCAA history to win the indoor and outdoor high hurdle championship three years in a row.
However, Holloway did not finish the prelims on Wednesday with the best time (13.18). Kentucky’s Daniel Roberts, who has challenged Holloway and sometimes beat him throughout the season, came away with the meet’s best time after the qualifying round (13.06). The final race, and Holloway’s chance at the sweep, comes on Saturday. It should be one of the tightest races all weekend between those two.
The other action that kicked off the event on Wednesday included Florida’s 4x100-meter relay team. The quartet of Holloway, sophomore Hakim Sani Brown, junior Raymond Ekevwo and senior Ryan Clark crossed the line in 38.35 seconds. That time was good enough for first place coming out of prelims. LSU had the best time in the nation all season until Wednesday.
Brown ran an automatic qualifying 200-meter as well, clocking in at 20.44 seconds. He also ran the 100-meter and finished with the second-best time coming out of prelims at 9.96, just four thousandths of a second behind Texas Tech’s Divine Oduduru.
The throwers also competed on Wednesday. Both sophomore Thomas Mardal and redshirt senior AJ McFarland threw personal bests in the hammer throw and earned points for UF. Mardal finished the event fourth at 73.10 meters while McFarland took sixth at 71.68.
Along with Holloway, the men’s team as a whole can sweep the indoor and outdoor national championships in 2019. It enters Austin, Texas, as a major contender, with the second most entries of any school at 16. However, the hottest men’s team all year has been Texas Tech, which enters the weekend with 19 entries.
While this would be the Red Raiders’ first title, the Gators are in familiar territory. The UF men are hoping to win their fifth title since 2009.
The women’s side places Florida at No. 10 with nine entries entering the weekend. While the rankings are based off how many entries each team has, that does not mean that all entries carry the same weight.
Senior Sharrika Barnett comes in as the overwhelming favorite to win the 400-meter dash. She is the only female to run sub-51 seconds this year at 50.96. Barnett also enters as a contender for the 200-meter title. She currently sits at No. 2 nationally at 23.63, 11 milliseconds behind Florida State freshman Karimah Davis.
Yanis David also enters the weekend as a favorite, ranking No. 1 nationally in both the long and triple jump. The triple jump is her better event. She sits comfortably ahead of the rest of the country at 14.35 meters. The next best jump comes from Mississippi State’s Tiffany Flynn at 13.87.
The long jump is much tighter, however. David’s 6.65-meter jump is just ahead of Alabama’s Kiara Williams and Texas A&M’s Tyra Gittens, who both have jumps of 6.53 meters.
Follow Graham Marsh on Twitter @GrahamMarshUF. Contact him at [email protected].