Back-to-back Champions. After a poor performance at the SEC Championship, earning sixth place, there was doubt about the Gators track and field team’s season and championship run. But that wasn’t enough to stop the Gators and head coach Mike Holloway from stealing the win from Arkansas in the 4×400 meter relay, securing their place as National Champions.
Down five points to Arkansas going into the final event, the Gators had little to no options. With one last shot, Emmanuel Bamidele, Jacory Patterson, Jevaughn Powell and Ryan Willie lined up for the 4×400. The Gators closers were ready.
The four Gators finished the relay with a collegiate record time of 2:57.74. Willie, the anchor for the Gators, finished second just fractions off Bamidele’s 44.24. This was the fastest time in the country this year and second fastest in school history. With those times and Patterson’s seventh-place finish, Florida earned 20 points in the final event.
Holloway said the culture of the Gators has been a major part of their dominance and that this is nothing new.
Moreover, Holloway said the senior athletes will take it upon themselves to mentor the younger and incoming athletes. He said that support and comradery on this team is the culture that creates this winning environment.
Holloway also spoke on the women’s team and their runner-up finish to the Texas Longhorns. He said that the culture isn’t just a part of the men’s team and track and field is a family.
— Gators Track and Field & Cross Country (@GatorsTF) June 11, 2023
Holloway said that the track and field culture in place now was difficult to build at the start of his time at Florida. However, now that it is established it’s all about recruiting athletes that will buy into that culture.
Holloway said that there is an obvious crossover between the teams and that interaction is encouraged. The teams keep each other in check and always support one another. He said another important aspect about the championship culture is the leadership within the teams.
There are no captains on the team because Holloway doesn’t believe in them. Instead, the coach designates “accountability leaders” to the team, and those athletes are expected to hold their teammates accountable.
Next season, Holloway and the Gators will look for a three-peat. Holloway led the Gators to three straight men’s indoor championships from 2010-12.