Florida narrowly wins second straight NCAA men’s crown

The Florida Men's team celebrating their team victory at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Photo: TrackTown USA - Josh Phillips

EUGENE, Ore. – With a seven-point lead over SEC rival Texas A&M heading into the final event of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Outdoor Track & Field Championships before a crowd of 11,448 at Hayward Field on Friday, Florida’s mission was clear.

Finish fifth or better in the 4×400-meter relay and the Gators would clinch their second straight national title.

As it turned out, they did one better than that.

Florida Sr. Eric Futch celebrating his team win with the fans at the Historic Hayward Field. Photo: TrackTown USA – Josh Phillips

With freshman Grant Holloway running a 43.89-second anchor leg, Florida placed fourth in the relay to clinch the NCAA crown by a mere two points over the Aggies – 61.5 to 59.5.

“We trust each other,” said Florida coach Mike Holloway. “We believe in each other.”

The Gators trailed A&M, 31.5-18, at the start of competition on Friday, and they quickly narrowed the gap with Holloway’s dominating win in the 100m hurdles at 13.49 despite running into a stiff headwind (-2.0).

Florida Jr. KeAndre Bates took first in both the Triple Jump and Long Jump with jumps of 16.76m and 8.05m respectfully. Photo: TrackTown USA – Josh Phillips

Florida added four unexpected points in the 800m from senior Andres Arroyo, and then vaulted into the lead behind senior Eric Futch and junior KeAndre Bates.

Futch used a strong closing kick to win the 400m hurdles at 48.32, while his teammate, TJ Holmes, placed sixth. Bates, who earlier won the long jump, added the triple jump to his NCAA trophy collection with a leap of 55 feet.

Senior Fred Kerley, the collegiate record-holder in the 400m, was the star for Texas A&M. He easily won the 400m with a time of 44.10, the fourth-fastest performance in NCAA history. Kerley also anchored A&M’s winning 4x400m relay at 2:59.98.

“We trust each other. We believe in each other.”
– Florida coach Mike Holloway

Tennessee’s Christian Coleman dominated the sprints with victories in the 100m (10.04, -2.1) and 200m (20.25, -3.1).

Friday’s winners:

  • 4x100m relay: Houston, 38.34 (Hayward Field record).
  • 1,500m: Josh Kerr, New Mexico, 3:43.03
  • 3,000m steeplechase: Edwin Kibichiy, Louisville, 8:28.40.
  • 110m hurdles: Grant Holloway, Florida, 13.49.
  • 100m: Christian Coleman, Tennessee, 10.04
  • 400m: Fred Kerley, Texas A&M, 44.10.
  • 800m: Emmanuel Korir, UTEP, 1:45.03.
  • 400m hurdles: Eric Futch, Florida, 48.32.
  • 200m: Christian Coleman, Tennessee, 20.25.
  • 5,000m: Grant Fisher, Stanford, 14:35.60.
  • 4x400m relay: Texas A&M, 2:59.98.
  • Discus: Filip Mihaljevic, Virginia, 209-2.
  • Triple jump: KeAndre Bates, Florida, 55-0.
  • High jump: Christoff Bryan, Kansas State, 7-3.

TEAM SCORES: Florida 61.5, Texas A&M 59.5, Virginia 36, Arkansas 33, Auburn 24, Georgia 22.5, Tennessee 20, LSU 20, Oregon 19.5, Alabama 19.