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Stan Becton | | July 20, 2022

NCAA Video Vault: Florida's Grant Holloway 3-peats in the 'greatest collegiate hurdle race ever seen'

Florida's Grant Holloway breaks 40-year collegiate record in 110m hurdles

"Wow! The greatest collegiate hurdle race we have ever seen," was what track great and ESPN analyst Dan O'Brien said to describe how Grant Holloway capped off his storied Florida Gators career at the Division I outdoor track and field championships.

As we go inside the NCAA Video Vault, we'll take a look at Holloway's final hurdles race in collegiate track and field.

The stage

Holloway entered as the two-time defending 110-meter hurdles champion, winning every year since he was a freshman. Holloway also won the short hurdles every year of his indoor career, taking home three 60-meter hurdle titles.

Holloway's sights were set on going 6-for-6 in short hurdle titles.

He built up to the 110-meter hurdle final with championship-level performances over the last month.

At the SEC Championships, he improved his previous standing as the second-fastest collegian in history, running 13.07 seconds across the 110 meter hurdles, a time fast enough for the world lead. Then, Holloway qualified for nationals at the East Preliminary meet, running sub-13.2 seconds twice to enter with the fastest qualifying time.

Yet, before Holloway could run the final, he had to make it through a grueling Wednesday schedule on the opening day of the 2019 DI outdoor championships in Austin, Texas.

HOLLOWAY CHAMPIONSHIPS: '19 indoor | '18 indoor | '17 hurdles | '18 outdoor | '17 outdoor

Beginning at 4:02 p.m., Holloway ran the third leg for Florida's 4x100 meter relay, helping the Gators to the fastest preliminary time of 38.35 seconds. 

About one hour later, Holloway ran the second-fastest 110-meter hurdles semifinal time, finishing in 13.16 seconds, securing his berth in the finals.

But wait, there's more!

Holloway's Wednesday continued an hour after the 110-meter hurdles with the long-jump finals; he finished 12th with a jump of 7.72 meters. About one hour later, Holloway ran the second leg of Florida's 4x400 meter relay that finished sixth in 3:03.98.

With Wednesday finally out of the way, Holloway had one day off before Friday, the day of the 110-meter hurdle finals. But even on Friday, Holloway's hurdles performance had to wait.

On Friday, Holloway began his day at 7:30 p.m. as he ran the third leg of Florida's winning 4x100 meter relay team that set a collegiate record, finishing in 37.97 seconds.

Now, after conference championships, a preliminary meet and FIVE DI championship events, Holloway had 40 minutes to spare to get his legs back before the 110-meter hurdles final. 

By the way, after the hurdles, Holloway still planned to run in the 4x400 meter relay final 90 minutes later to help Florida on its quest for a team title.

The competition

Grant Holloway's main competition entering the 2019 110-meter hurdles final came in two forms: Kentucky's Daniel Roberts and the collegiate record.

Roberts was the only athlete other than Holloway to run sub-13.2 seconds in the 110 meter hurdles at the preliminary meets, running 13.13. Roberts then surpassed Holloway's second-best all-time collegiate mark in the outdoor championship semifinals, finishing in 13.06 seconds.

Roberts and Holloway were the only two hurdlers to run sub-13.2 during the entire 2019 season.

In addition to Roberts, Holloway was racing against the clock. Holloway aimed to break the 110-meter hurdles collegiate record set by Maryland's Renaldo Nehemiah on May 6, 1979, when he ran 13 seconds flat.

The 110-meter hurdles final would be Holloway's last chance to break the record and etch himself into collegiate history.

Here's the complete field of entries for the final:

Lane athlete school Semifinal time season's best time
2 Michael Dickson North Carolina A&T 13.54 13.54
3 Caleb Parker Southern Miss 13.50 13.50
4 Dashaun Jackson Saint Francis 13.37 13.37
5 Grant Holloway Florida 13.16 13.07
6 Daniel Roberts Kentucky 13.06 13.06
7 Isaiah Moore South Carolina 13.44 13.25
8 Amere Lattin Houston 13.44 13.44
9 Eric Edwards Jr. Oregon 13.49 13.49

RESULTS: See the complete results for every event in the 2019 championships

The race

The 110 meter hurdles is a sprint, and this race was so fast that if you blinked, you might've missed it.

Out the blocks

The two favorites, Holloway and Roberts, each reached the first hurdle at almost the same time in approximately 2.3 seconds, leading the rest of the field. Great starts out of the blocks for both.

MORE: The track comeback to end ALL comebacks

50 meters in (hurdle 5)

After about 50 meters —five hurdles — in, Holloway held a slight lead on Roberts.

What happened over the previous four hurdles?

Roberts clipped and knocked over the second hurdle, slowing him down just enough for Holloway to get the lead after his unobstructed run.

The final hurdle

Holloway kept his slight lead after Roberts knocked over hurdle six. However, Roberts made up ground as he cleared the next two hurdles easily to maintain pace. Then, with two hurdles to go, Roberts knocked over hurdle nine. 

Holloway maintained his lead with one hurdle to go, this time visibly in front. He reached and cleared the 10th and final hurdle slightly before Roberts. The race would come down to the final sprint.

MORE: The race that put Olympic hurdler turned NFL player Devon Allen on the map

The final sprint

It was an all-out sprint for the outdoor title.

Holloway vs. Roberts. Florida vs. Kentucky. 

All of the races throughout the year came down to the final 14 meters of track.

Holloway exited with a slight advantage, but Roberts was on his tail. Who would prevail?

Holloway's lead exiting the final hurdle was just enough to hold off Roberts at the finish line. It wasn't a photo finish, but it was close. 

0.02 seconds close. That's how much time separated Holloway from securing a three-peat and finishing in second.

But what about Holloway's other competitor, the clock?

Holloway beat the clock too, finishing in 12.98 seconds to set a collegiate record.

Here are the complete results from the 110-meter hurdles:

Place athlete school time
1 Grant Holloway Florida 12.98
2 Daniel Roberts Kentucky 13.00
3 Isaiah Moore South Carolina 13.37
4 Dashaun Jackson Saint Francis 13.38
5 Caleb Parker Southern Miss 13.55
6 Michael Dickson North Carolina A&T 13.71
7 Amere Lattin Houston 13.77
8 Eric Edwards Jr. Oregon DQ

NCAA T&F: Here's how the outdoor track and field championships work

Breaking down the performance

Holloway won the 110-meter hurdles title in 12.98 seconds. He set an NCAA record, breaking Maryland's Renaldo Nehemiah's previous mark of 13.00 seconds.

Unlike most record-breaking performances, Holloway had to fight for the record to the very end as Roberts pushed him to the finish.

Holloway's record gave him five of the ten fastest times across the 110-meter hurdles in NCAA history, with four coming in 2019. Moreover, Holloway continued his streak of short hurdle titles, winning the 60-meter and 110-meter hurdle titles three straight years from 2017-19 — the first athlete to ever three-peat in each event. 

Holloway's win also added 10 important points to Florida's team total as the Gators aimed for a team title. Holloway still had the 4x400 meter relay left on his championship plate as another chance to give the Gators points. 

Holloway and Florida finished second in the 4x400 meter relay and second overall at the 2019 championships, falling 10 points short of the title. Holloway turned pro after the meet. Nonetheless, Holloway's hurdles performance remains one that will forever last in history.

🏆: Here are the DI track and field teams with most NCAA championships

What did they say

Holloway announcing why he returned to college in June 2018: "Renaldo Nehemiah has been on top of that 110 hurdles record board too long. Records are meant to be broken. I'm after him. I'm after that record. That's my main goal next year."

Holloway on if he felt Roberts pushing him in the race: "Daniel usually makes his move around 9 or 10, but once I got over 10, I knew I had it"

Florida head coach Mike Holloway (no relation) on Grant's career: "He will be one of the all-time Gator greats forever. We've never seen anything like him."

Grant Holloway's dad Stan Holloway on his son's performance: "When he is in a situation when he is truly having fun, special things are going to happen. It was an amazing race."

Here's what your Twitter feed may have looked like after Holloway broke the record:

Watch the race again

Below, you can watch Holloway's win in the 110-meter hurdles one more time.

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