The title defense for Florida Gator Track and Field team has begun. Looking to follow up the program’s three NCAA championships last season, the Gators put on a show at the Clemson Invitational January 13 and 14 to start the indoor season off on the right foot. Florida’s women’s squad, the defending national indoor champions, recorded nine of the 12 individual titles.
Friday: The Talitha Diggs Show
Florida set the tone by dominating the opening event, the 1,000-meter race. Gabrielle Wilkinson set a facility record and clinched first place with a 2:44.39 time. Caden Monk and Joe Wester finished second and third on the men’s side.
Talitha Diggs made her mark in the women’s 60-meter dash, sweeping the Clemson event for the second year in a row while breaking a facility record. Her 7.14-second time is second in Gators history.
Florida earned its first event sweep of the season in the 600-meter race, with Adrian Bichara capturing the men’s title (1:18.73) and Vanessa Watson winning the women’s competition (1:30.52). The Gators wrapped up the first day of events with a title in the women’s long jump, thanks to Claire Bryant’s 6.59-meter leap.
Saturday: 4 x 400-Meter Glory
The Gators carried over their success from day one with a sweep of the triple jump. Returner Jasmine Moore’s trio of jumps accumulated 14.44 meters to win the women’s event, while newcomer Sean Dixon-Bodie put up 16.53 meters to take the men’s title. Diggs decided her efforts from the previous day were just not enough; the Pennsylvania native secured the title in the women’s 300-meter race, shattering her own school record with a 36.12-second time.
Florida’s women continued to impose their will on the rubber, with Imogen Barrett taking first in the 800-meter race (2:04.89) and Vasileia Spyrou clocking in at 9:31.83 to win the 3000-meter trek.
To cap off the meet, Florida ran the table in the 4 x 400-meter relay event. Laila Owens, Jayla Hollis, Ramiah Elliot and Sterling Lester combined for a 3:35.55 finish, while the men’s quartet of Jacory Patterson, Emmanuel Bamidele, Jacob Miley and Ryan Willie put up a 3:05.29 effort, setting a new record time in the world this season.
Florida track and field will head to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to compete in the Razorback Invitational on January 27 and 28.