On Sunday, former Florida athletes Omar Craddock, Will Claye, and Marquis Dendy swept the triple jump at the U.S. Track Outdoor Championships. The finishes qualified each of those three former Gators for August's IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
Then they Gator Chomped. Then they literally swept the track, pulling out small brooms and dustpans to rub in the Florida program's dominance of the event in recent years.
"We’re changing U of F to be the University of Flights," Craddock said. "I put a couple of small brooms in my bag today since I knew we were going to sweep it."
It's not bragging if you can back it up, and there's no doubt, with little more than a year remaining before the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, that the four best American triple jumpers are all Gators.
The triad of U.S. Outdoors medalists will be joined by a fourth Gator, reigning Olympic champion Christian Taylor, who didn't have to compete in Eugene this past weekend to make it to Beijing because of a bye earned with a victory in last year's Diamond League competition. Craddock's Outdoors title was his second in the triple jump; he also won the event in 2013. Claye, meanwhile, beat Taylor in the 2012 U.S. Indoors and 2014 U.S. Outdoors, but Taylor topped Claye — who won silver — in London, on the sport's biggest stage.
That depth is scary: Craddock just won the deepest national competition in the triple jump, defeating the Olympic silver medalist, and Dendy, whose professional career is less than a month old and whose Florida career was arguably more accomplished than any of his fellow Gators' times in orange and blue, took third, and they're probably not the two best active triple jumpers from Florida.
A Florida sweep of the triple jump in Beijing (or in Rio) is possible, too, though it will likely take strong performances to accomplish. Cuban jumper Pedro Pablo Pichardo has the best jumps of 2014 and 2015, and beat Taylor in an instantly legendary Diamond League competition in Doha, Qatar in May, with both men topping 18 meters (a mark only five triple jumpers have ever cleared, and one no two men had ever cleared in the same competition) in an epic duel for supremacy. And Frenchman Teddy Tamgho, another member of the 18-meter club, could play a role in the event, as well.
But Taylor has been the most consistent triple jumper in the world since London, as the Diamond League titles attest, and Claye and Craddock are close behind, and Tamgho is often hurt, and Dendy is only getting started, and ... you get it. (Oh, and Dendy won the long jump earlier in the week, while Claye was the bronze medalist in London. The triple jump is the better event for Florida jumpers, but it's not the only one they excel in.)
The University of Flights is set to soar for a while.