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UNF Spinnaker

UF tops first day’s field events at NCAA East Preliminaries

Mayor Alvin Brown walked into UNF’s Hodges Stadium Thursday, May 24, sporting his self-proclaimed Osprey blue tie and an enthusiasm for the events occurring there over the next few days.

Thursday marked the beginning of the NCAA East Preliminary Round in which approximately 1,600 athletes will compete tofinish in the top 12 of their event and continue to the NCAA Outdoor Championships June 6-9 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Brown spoke to members of the media before the first event’s start.

“I have some Dolphin in me,” he said, “but today, I’m all Ospreys.”

The mayor, upon request, then attempted to swoop — the well-known gesture of UNF pride— to swoop experts’ amusement.

The javelin throw began the big meet, and Stipe Zunic made a statement. The sophomore out of the University of Florida threw the longest throw of the day on his very first attempt and finished the event atop the leader board.

The following events included the men’s discus throw as well as the men’s long jump. In the discus throw, Lonnie Pugh, a junior out of Michigan State launched a 58.39-meter toss on his second attempt and secured the first overall score. In the men’s long jump, another Florida Gator stole the show.

This time around, freshman Marquis Dendy launched himself 7.81 meters on his third jump and secured himself a spot in next month’s NCAA Championship. Dendy’s distance was less than a meter shy of the college record of 8.74 meters.

A pair of Louisville athletes, Khadija Abdullah and Chinwe Okoro finished first and second, respectively, on their way to dominating the women’s shot put event. Abdullah launched the shot put 17.12 meters — or 56 feet and two inches — while Okoro settled for 16.86 meters, a total of 55 feet and 3.75 inches.

The attendance didn’t outshine other track meets, though fans were scattered everywhere throughout the stadium watching the various events. However, the stadium reached noticeable energy levels, depending on which events took place.

One meet attendee spoke highly of the first part of Thursday’s meet.

“The set up here, it’s fantastic,” said Bobby Iannone, a UNF student and avid track fan. “ North Florida is really showing out this weekend with everything from the ease of getting into the stadium, the seating and even the volunteers.”

Iannone said he believes the high quality of the event bodes well for UNF.

The remaining field events and all of the track events will take place later in the evening, and eyes will be on University of Florida’s Jeff Demps, who is racing in the 100-meter dash, as well as North Florida’s own Brianna Frazier, who’s racing in the 400 meters.

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