The Florida Gators track and field team traveled to Oxford, Mississippi to compete in the 2022 outdoor southeastern conference championship this past weekend.
The Gators got off to a good start on Thursday as Sterling Lester closed out the first day of the heptathlete with a personal best of 23.56 (+1.9) in the 200m which put her in the overall lead for the event.
Mark Porter and Zach Godbold also scored points in the Javelin final for the men. Porter threw 69.08m coming in fifth and got Florida on the board with four points. Godbold came in eighth with a throw of 64.68m adding another point to the count. The Gators also qualified men and women in the 800m and 200m dash as well as two women in the 400mH finals.
Action on Friday was delayed due to inclement weather, but things began for Florida at 8:00 pm with the pentathlon. Sterling Lester continued her momentum to take home the gold medal in the event. This added 10 points to the women’s team score. Thea Jensen added two points finishing in seventh in the shot put for the women.
Florida continued to put points on the board for both teams in the long jump. Malcom Clemons led the men placing third with a jump of 7.84m (+0.1), followed by Caleb Foster who finished in fifth with a mark of 7.68m (+0.2). PJ Austin also finished in seventh landing at 7.52m (+0.2) to add two points. The trio of men combined for 12 points for the Gators.
For the women, Jasmine Moore set us off on her very first jump. She leaped to 6.73m (+0.4) which moved her into first place and won her the gold medal. Anna Hall also had her best jump right off the bat as she set a new wind legal personal best of 6.42m (+0.6), she finished in fifth overall. Claire Bryant had her best jump in the first round of finals. Bryant landed at 6.56m (+0.4) and took home third place and a bronze medal. This trio of women added 20 to the team score.
Pamela O’Brien put down a huge personal best in the 3000m Steeplechase for the women. O’Brien finished in 10:25.00, smashing her previous best by about 20 seconds. The gators also qualified both men and women in the 100/110mH, 1500m, 400m, and 100m dashes.
Championship day is where the Gators show out. It was quite a sight to see the white uniforms on display once again on Saturday.
Championship Saturday in Oxford began with Thea Jensen making the final for the women’s discus throw. Jensen, on her first throw, threw a personal best of 50.15m. She finished ninth in the competition.
Next was the women’s triple jump, and you probably can guess how it went. It was yet again another one-two finish for the Florida women. Jasmine Moore continued her dominance of the jumps and finished with a mark of 14.46m (+2.5). Moore took home her second gold of the weekend while adding 10 points to the women's score. Can’t forget about the Guyana national record holder, Natricia Hooper. On Hooper's third attempt she landed at a mark of 13.74m, good enough for second, a silver medal, and eight more points to the count.
In the men’s discus, Edward Shelikoff scored three for the Gators, on his fourth attempt, he launched the discus to 56.40m. This was his best mark of his series that included three throws of over 55 meters.
Running got started with the men’s 4x100m relay for the Gators. The team of Dedrick Vanover, Tyler Davis, PJ Austin and Joseph Fahnbulleh finished in 38.66 seconds to take home the gold medal.
Next up was the 1500m dash where Imogen Barrett completed the first half of her 1500/800 double. Barrett took home fifth with a time of 4:14.79, adding four points to the women's team score.
In the high hurdles, Sasha Wells ended in seventh with a time of 13.75 (+2.1). She tacked on two more points for the women.
It came time for the 400m dash and the Gators delivered. Talitha Diggs, beginning her busy evening, ran a season best of 51.24 coming in fourth place. For the men, Florida finished one, three and five. Champion Allison set a new personal best of 44.74 as he took home the gold medal. Jacory Patterson also put down a personal best as he finished in 45.12 to claim the bronze medal. Ryan Willie finished in fifth with a time of 45.69. These men combined for 20 points.
In the 100m dash for the men, Dedrick Vanover contested in a race that went all the way down to the last meter. Vanover finished in second to take the silver medal as he posted a personal best of 10.10 (+0.6).
The women’s 800m came around and this is when things started looking good for the Gators. Imogen Barrett comes up big with a first place finish and a personal best of 2:01.42. Gabrielle Wilkinson also ran a season best of 2:02.73 to take home bronze. These two added 16 points to the count for the women. For the men, Sam Austin also ran a personal best while adding a point to the men’s score.
Following this was the 400mH where the women continued the momentum. Anna Hall finished in second to take silver as she went around the track in 55.36. Vanessa Watson also added to the count by taking fifth.
Then came the 200m finals. Talitha Diggs came around the turn and finished in third to take home bronze and add six more points. Diggs’s time of 22.64 (+0.2) is also a personal best. Joseph Fahnbulleh finished in second for the men to take silver with a time of 20.13 (+0.3).
The last women’s distance event of the weekend was clutch for the Gators. Parker Valby finished a race for the first time since January and it was a big one as she took home bronze. Valby finished the 5000m in 15:32.41, a personal best and eight crucial points for Florida.
To end the meet and clinch the team SEC title, Florida’s women came through in the 4x400m relay. The squad of Taylor Manson, Sterling Lester, Doneisha Anderson and anchored by Talitha Diggs came in fourth while posting a season best time of 3:26.85. The men continued their historic outdoor season taking home the gold medal as Jacory Patterson, Ryan Willie, Jacob Miley and Champion Allison finished in 2:59.44.
Overall the men take home fourth place with 78 total points and the women take home the team title scoring 107 points. The Gators look ahead to the NCAA East Regional Qualifier on May 25th–28th in Bloomington, Indiana.
Feature Photo Credit: @GatorsTF on Twitter