GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida men's and women's teams put a punctuation mark on a home-meet stretch Saturday with the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational at Percy Beard Track in Gainesville, as the Orange and Blue enjoyed a home crowd for the second consecutive competition while also honoring former Florida women’s head coach and meet namesake, Tom Jones, who lost his battle with cancer in 2007.
The Gators captured eight Tom Jones event wins, including five field events highlighted by junior Kyle Strawn’s PR in the hammer throw (68.18m/223-08), to improve his second-place standing in school history. Florida additionally had several key marks and performances, including a big PR in the 400m from junior Dedric Dukes (45.66) and a slew of PRs in the 800m, to set up success in the championship season.
“It’s always an honor for us to be able to have this meet in honor of Coach Jones who meant so much to me, to this program and to a lot of male and female athletes that came through Florida," head coach Mike Holloway said. "That was the big key for today. Across the board, we got some things done today. People like Kyle Strawn [in hammer], Robin Reynolds in the long jump, Dedric Dukes with a big PR in the 400m. I think the biggest thing for this meet is we’re coming off a really hard couple weeks of training."
The Gator field athletes had several tremendous outings, sweeping both hammer throws, as Jayla Bostic (57.20m/187-8) and Kyle Strawn (68.18m/193-4) each claimed the Tom Jones titles. Junior David Levin (58.92m/193-4) made it a Gator sweep on the men’s side with a second-place finish.
Florida junior Dedric Dukes clocked a 45.66 in the 400, finishing as the top collegian in the event with a new PR, also a top-10 performance in the NCAA.
In the women’s 400, sophomore Destinee Gause turned in a 52.88 as the top collegian in the field.
Robin Reynolds turned in a career-best 6.36m/20-10.5 in the long jump, the ninth-best performance in school history and a top-five mark in the country so far this year, while senior Lorraine Graham (6.12m/20-1) logged a season-best performance in the event.
Senior Agata Strausa claimed the Tom Jones 800 title (2:04.64) with a new PR, a record-book worthy performance with the ninth-best mark in Florida history. All three men’s 800 runners turned in PRs, paced by winner Ryan Schnulle (1:48.68).
It was also PR city in the men’s 1,500, as freshman Andres Arroyo (3:48.09) paced the quintet of Gators.