The Florida Gators track and field teams have set themselves up for a final championship push on Sunday by qualifying for 23 event finals, split between 19 athletes (10 men, nine women) as they aim to win the SEC team titles.
And the team title is the ultimate goal for each team, for sure, but Saturday wasn't just about setting up things for Sunday.
Fawn Miller claimed the SEC title in the women's javelin throw by setting a SEC meet record with her throw of 57.10m. Fellow Gator javelin thrower Marija Vucenovic finished runner-up to Miller with a best throw of 54.51m to give the women's team a combined 18 points in the event.
The only other victory on Saturday for the Gators came in the women's 100m hurdles prelims, as Bridgette Owens came across the finish line in a time of 12.84s. The Gators did have numerous other top qualifiers, but they were second or third at best. That's also nothing to be ashamed or worried about: All that matters in prelims is qualifying for the finals. Worry about everything once you get there.
On that note, if you've been following our coverage, you've noticed that we had some remarks about head coach Mike Holloway's statements on whether or not the Gators are at these championships with the correct heart and passion. Well, Holloway addressed that passion and as we expected, all is well:
I thought we did a great job of qualifying today. I questioned our focus and passion the first two days, but I think we overcame that and set ourselves up for a great competition tomorrow. Right now, we’ll get back to the hotel, get rested and come out here tomorrow and do what we do best – compete our hearts out.
With as many final qualifiers as the Gators have, they should be fine in that regard. Both the men's and women's teams have great shots at claiming SEC titles. Stipe Zunic will get things started for the men's team at 11:00 a.m. ET with the men's javelin prelims and finals with the goal of setting the table for a Sunday charge up the team leader board.
There are still 12 scoring events to go, so anything can (and probably will) happen.
Once Zunic gets underway, the rest of the competition begins at 12:00 p.m. ET with track events beginning a little later at around 2:00 p.m. ET. You can watch all the action live, courtesy of ESPN3. The team scores and time finals will be posted live and updated to the second by BranchSportsTech.
Men's team scores after Day Three (9 of 21 events):
- 1: Georgia, 52 points
- 2: Arkansas, 51 points
- 3: Alabama, 29 points
- 4: Texas A&M, 25 points
- 5: Kentucky, 21 points
- T6: Florida, 11 points
- T6: Ole Miss, 11 points
- 8: Auburn, 8 points
Women's team scores after Day Three (9 of 21 events):
- 1: Arkansas, 77 points
- 2: Georgia, 54.5 points
- 3: Missouri, 51 points
- 4: Florida, 39.5 points
- 5: LSU, 29.5 points
- 6: Mississippi State, 18 points