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UF Track & Field: Three NCAA Leads Highlight Gators’ Nine National Top-10 Performances in Columbia

Thomas Mardal made his season debut on Saturday, logging the NCAA-leading mark in the weight throw
Photo By: Tim Casey

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY RICK HURTADO

Gators close their second meet of the season with NCAA-leading performances by Talitha Diggs, Thomas Mardal, and Grace Stark

The Gators posted three NCAA-leading performances and a total of nine national top-10 outings to close the two-day South Carolina Invitational at the Carolina Indoor Track and Field Complex Saturday afternoon.

Sprinter Talitha Diggs, who posted a jaw-dropping performance during her collegiate debut two weeks ago, did it again this weekend. The freshman finished first in the 400 meters with an NCAA-leading time of 52.34 seconds, which ranks sixth in the world and is a new facility record.

Diggs, who is tied for the third-fastest time in school history in the 200 meters, now ranks eighth on UF’s Indoor All-Time Top 10 list in the 400 meters.

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Another top performance came from hurdler Grace Stark. The sophomore, who made her season debut Saturday, crossed in 8.06 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles. Her time is tied for the No. 1 spot on this year’s NCAA Division I Indoor Qualifying list.

Thrower Thomas Mardal also made his season debut in South Carolina with an NCAA-leading mark. The 2020 weight throw SEC champion threw for 23.14 meters (75 feet, 11 inches) in the weight throw, setting a new personal-best mark that ranks second in school history and leads the nation.

Meanwhile back on the track, sprinter Joseph Fahnbulleh earned a spot in UF’s record book with an NCAA top-5 time in the 200 meters and new facility record. The sophomore crossed in 20.60 seconds, securing the third-fastest time in the nation and sixth-fastest time in program history.

The Gators also saw top-10 performances in the 800 meters, the long and triple jumps, and both men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relays.

Redshirt sophomore Gabrielle Wilkinson ran a time of 2:05.71 in the 800 meters, which is the eighth-fastest in the nation and in school history. Meanwhile, redshirt senior Kala Penn recorded a mark of 13.41 meters (44 feet) in the triple jump that ranks seventh in the nation and sixth in UF’s history; while junior PJ Austin secured the ninth-best mark in the NCAA with a long jump 7.67-meter (25 feet, 2 inches) leap.

The Gators finished the afternoon strong with the men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relays.

The men’s squad, formed by Ryan Willie, Ian Davis, Denzel Villaman, and Jacob Miley, secured the No. 4 spot in the nation with a time of 3:06.86. Meanwhile on the women’s side, the relay team headlined by Diggs, Taylor Manson, Sterling Lester, and Doneisha Anderson crossed in 3:35.91 to secure the No. 10 spot on this year’s NCAA Division I Indoor Qualifying list.

In addition to top national performances, several Gators also improved their personal-best times and marks.

Fahnbulleh, adding to his NCAA top-5 performance in the 200 meters, set a new personal record of 6.73 seconds in the 60 meters. Fellow sprinter Dedrick Vanover logged a new personal best of 6.71 seconds, finishing third in that event.

Meanwhile, Miley improved his personal record in the 800 meters with a time of 1:51.85, while jumpers Alexis Brown and Malcolm Clemons set new personal-best marks in the long jump and triple jump, respectively. Brown logged a mark of 6.10 meters (20 feet, 0.25 inches), while Clemons leapt for 15.46 meters (50 feet, 8.75 inches).

A complete list of results for the Gators is below.

The Gators are back in action next Friday when they travel to Fayetteville, Ark. for this year’s Tyson Invitational.

CAROLINA CHALLENGE MEET INFORMATION

  *   Results (Adkins Results)
  *   Day 1 Recap
  *   Venue: Carolina Indoor Track and Field Complex