Florida track and field begins championship season today at the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships and is bringing two solid teams. The Gators enter the championship meet with 12 NCAA top-10 times and marks, including five in the top-five and two of those that rank No. 1 in the NCAA.
Competing in the championships will be Florida’s No. 7 women’s team and No. 8 men’s team according to the latest USTFCCCA NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field rankings. The women’s team will face some especially tough competition with four SEC teams (No. 1 Arkansas, No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 4 Georgia and No. 6 LSU) ranked ahead of it in the national poll.
Men’s team athletes to watch
Florida’s men’s track team will also face tough competition at SEC Indoors. LSU and Arkansas are ranked ahead of the Gators at No. 2 and 3, respectively. Meanwhile, No. 9 Georgia and No. 10 Ole Miss barely trail Florida.
But the Gators have the athletes to compete with the best of the best in the SEC. Here are four Florida men’s team stars to keep an eye on at SEC Indoors:
- Thomas Mardal, Sr. – The Norwegian leads the nation in the weight throw and has the second-best mark in the event in school history. Mardal, who won the weight throw at the SEC Indoors last year, will try to repeat Thursday.
- Raymond Ekevwo, Sr. – Currently, he is tied for the second quickest time in the NCAA in the 60 meters. Ekevwo is the reigning SEC champion of the event and looks to earn his second gold medal this year. Also, he owns the third fastest time in school history (7.53 seconds) and sits three tenths of a second behind record holder and Gator great Grant Holloway (7.50 seconds).
- Joseph Fahnbulleh, So. – He owns the second fastest time in the nation in the 200 meters and fourth fastest time in UF history. Head coach Mike Holloway discussed Fahnbulleh’s improvement with ESPN Gainesville’s Steve Russell in a recent interview.
- Malcolm Clemons, Fr. – Clemons is one example of a freshman in Florida’s track and field program who has contributed to the team. He’s ranked sixth in the country in the long jump and already 10th in school history.
Women’s team athletes to watch
Similar to the men’s team, the Gators are young on the women’s side. Regardless, Holloway said he is excited about his No. 7 women’s squad.
Here are a couple of Florida women’s team athletes to look out for at SEC Indoors:
- Grace Stark, So. – She’s the other Gator to be ranked first in the nation in their event. Stark also owns the world under-20 record in the 60-meter hurdles and her time ranks second in UF history.
- Talitha Diggs, Fr. – Diggs may just be a freshman, but she’s ranked fifth in the country in the 200 meters, has the eighth fastest time in the world and also ranks second in school history.
Three days of competition
The 2021 SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships begin today and extend through Saturday. It takes place in Fayetteville, Arkansas, at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
Holloway said he is excited for the SEC Indoors and had high praise for the intensity and competition that the meet presents.
The meet will stream of SEC Network at 11 a.m. Thursday, 12:55 p.m. and 6:25 p.m. Friday and 1:25 p.m. and 6:25 p.m. Saturday. Of the athletes mentioned in the article, Mardal will compete first. Men’s weight throw commences at 2:45 p.m. today.
— Gators Track and Field & Cross Country (@GatorsTF) February 25, 2021