As you've heard by now, the Gators men's team claimed their second-straight NCAA Outdoor Championship on Saturday by miraculously besting Texas A&M in the final event and ending level with A&M at 53 overall points. Andy did a great job in covering the event in my absence (I was out of town this weekend dealing with a family thing and don't worry though, it was a good thing), but he's asked me to write about just how the Gators were able to bring home the hardware and kind of explain things a little bit.
As Andy discussed in the link provided above, the Gators were trailing A&M by 9 points with one event to go: the always meet ending 4x400m relay. There were eight team participants in the relay with points broken down for 1st through 8th place. 10 points were given to the winners, while the last place team got a point.
Basically, the Gators needed to win to have any shot at winning the National Championship. But still that seemed unlikely because what are the chances that A&M would ever finish last in the 4x400m relay? Well, I would have said before the race that you'd have a better chance winning the lottery, unless of course they either dropped the baton or ran out of their lane.
Of course other things can happen, like a handoff from outside the zone or a false start. There are even a couple more ways, but you only need one to happen and given the training that these guys go through, they are all rare possibilities.
And then A&M actually dropped the baton. And they finished last in the relay.
And the Gators won it.
The first tie since 1978 and the Gators were champions again.
The fact that A&M dropped the baton is unbelievable, but it is something that happens in track. When I was running, we would spend days/weeks/months practicing baton handoffs. We'd practice them in the rain, with a hose being sprayed in our faces, in a pool, going up and down bleachers and so on. It was crazy. But track and field is a crazy sport and anything can happen.
Now I haven't seen the video of the drop and I'm sure that the results are final. But if the baton hit the ground and bounced out of A&M's lane, A&M would be disqualified. But I'm sure it didn't. Because A&M wasn't disqualified and they were allowed to finish. They finished two seconds behind the seventh place team and in track two seconds is an eternity.
At the end of the day though, in a sport decided millimeters and milliseconds, the Gators prevailed. Even if it was directly due to the fault of another team. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than, well, yeah. You know how that goes.
If you want to watch the race, ESPNU will be showing replays of the meet four more times throughout June. You can view the program schedule here, thanks to GatorZone. Within that same article, they've got the final standings and times of all the Gators participants, including a complete list of every single national championship the Gators have won, broken down by sport.