DES MOINES, Iowa – Florida took home its first outdoor-national championship Saturday at the NCAA track and field meet.
The win snapped a three-year title run by the women and men of Texas A&M – and the Aggies join the league next fall.
The title came down to the final race, the 1,600 relay, between Florida, LSU and Texas A&M. Anchor Tony McQuay gave the Gators the lead on the backstretch and the win in 3 minutes, 0.02 seconds.
Florida finished with 50 points, followed by the Tigers (48) and Texas A&M (40).
|DI MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP|
|Results: Men | Women|
|Recaps: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4|
|Hendrickson: Adams return to track paying off|
|Turner: Levins conquering another domain|
|Johnson: UTSA track star helps save child|
|Turner: Virginia Tech sprinter makes return|
|Hendrickson: Nellum thankful to compete|
|Hendrickson: Bayer best in 1,500|
The Gators, who’d won the last three indoor titles without matching it in outdoors, started the bell lap for the 1,600 in second behind Southern California and with LSU right behind them. If that would have held the Gators and Tigers would have split the national title, but McQuay put on a burst to move past USC’s Bryshon Nellum while Tigers anchor Riker Hylton stayed in third.
What made Florida’s title run all the more remarkable was that the Gators did it without star sprinter Jeff Demps, who skipped the NCAA meet to rest an injured hamstring.
Florida State’s Maurice Mitchell gave the Seminoles their sixth national champion in the 200 meters in seven years and a brief lead. But that was Florida State’s last shot, and the Seminoles finished fourth with 38 points.
The 1,500 meters didn’t have any impact on the team race, but it might have been the best race of the meet.
Indiana’s Andrew Bayer closed on BYU’s Miles Batty down the backstretch, but Batty appeared to hold the slightest of leads as both approached the finish line. Bayer and Batty leaned hard and tumbled harder, and Bayer leapt up and turned to the scoreboard to learn that his 3:43.82 had bested the still-fallen Batty by 1/100th of a second.
”I was set up with 200 meters to go and I was like ‘I’m not going to let this go, I’m going to fight to the end,”’ Bayer said.
Illinois star Andrew Riley became the first to sweep the men’s 100 meters and 110-meter high hurdles, winning the 110 on Saturday in 13.53.