EUGENE, Ore. — As Day 3 of the 2017 NCAA track and field outdoor championships concluded, Florida's men’s team won its second consecutive national championship.
The Gators finished first with 61.5 points, followed by Texas A&M (59.5) and Virginia (36). Arkansas (33) and Auburn (24) rounded out the top five.
“We pride ourselves in being ready for this competition,” Florida coach Mike Holloway said. “I just challenged them to engage in the party, so to speak. It was a great competition. We had to match the intensity and the passion of the other teams here. That’s what we did.”
With the title, the Gators own four of the last six outdoor championships.
A big team effort helped Florida catapult to the top.
“We’re a team, we’re a family, and we got this done as a team and a family,” Holloway said.
In long jump and triple jump, junior KeAndre Bates took first with his best mark of 55 feet on his second attempt in the triple jump. He went 26-5 in his second attempt of the long jump.
Redshirt senior Eric Futch, who looked up anxiously at the Hayward Field scoreboard after a close race in the 400-meter hurdles, was all smiles after he saw he came in first running in 48.32 seconds. Futch won the title last year as well.
And freshman Grant Holloway won the 110-meter hurdles in 13.49.
Things started fast
Houston kicked off the running events on Friday, and got an impressive win in the 4x100 relay.
"Just excited, you know,” Houston’s anchor leg Cameron Burrell said. “I ran really, really well down the home stretch and tried to carry the momentum on to the 100."
Tennessee’s Christian Coleman took home two titles on Friday, winning the 100 and 200 meter races.
He ran the 100 in 10.04 and finished the 200 in 20.29 despite tough wind conditions. Coleman said both wins were equally difficult.
“There were some great guys in both fields, so I was just locked in and focused and ready to execute on both of them,” Coleman said. “There was negative wind on both of them, so both of them were pretty difficult, so I was happy to get it done.”
Now, Coleman and Justin Gatlin, who also attended Tennessee, will face each other in a few weeks at the USATF outdoor championships.
“He’s a friend of mine, so it’s a special moment for both of us,” Coleman said.
Two titles in three days
Filip Mihaljevic finished his trip to TrackTown with two titles, winning the shot put on Wednesday and the discus on Friday.
“I was really confident for shot put. I knew I could win the discus final if I had a good throw. I definitely believed in myself, that’s the first thing. If I believe in myself, I can keep going,” Mihaljevic said. “As soon as I released it and saw the flight, I knew it was going to be a good one. I didn’t know how big it was going to be, but it was a good one.”
His first attempt of 63.76m (209-2 ) was enough to give him the win.
Stanford sophomore Grant Fisher kicked his way to his first NCAA title in the 5,000. He finished in 14:35.60, edging Arkansas’ Jack Bruce by 28 hundredths of a second.
“It was awesome,” Fisher said. “It’s surreal right now. I don’t know, ask me in a day or maybe a week. It feels pretty nice right now, though. It’s been a really fun season … It was physical in there but I’ve had a lot of physical races this year.”
Although Texas A&M fell just short of the national title, the Aggies gave the fans at Hayward Field a show.
Their 4x400 time of 2:59:58 gave them they title in the event, and the fifth title in school history. They finished in 2:59.98.
“At the end of the day, it’s track and field and you never know what’s going to happen,” Fred Kerley said. “There are times where we lost a couple points here and there, Florida lost some points here and there. The meet is won once the 4x4 is done.”
The anchor of the race, Fred Kerley, also picked up a title in the 400 meters, finishing in 44.10.