Miami track and field takes on stout competition at Pepsi Florida Relays

Junior runner Shakima Wimbley prepares for the upcoming ACC Indoor Track & Field Championships both on and off the track. Giancarlo Falconi // Staff Photographer

The University of Miami track team competed in the Pepsi Florida Relays at the University of Florida, while Michelle Atherley headed to the University of Texas at Austin to represent the Canes in the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, presented by Spectrum.

Atherley was the lone Hurricane in the Lone Star State, competing in the women’s heptathlon. The sophomore finished fifth in the women’s 100m hurdles to kick off the seven-event competition but failed to clear the high jump at 1.61m and did not finish the heptathlon.

The Pepsi Florida Relays featured some of the best teams in college track and field, including No. 16 Miami. On the women’s side, the meet featured No. 1 Oregon, No. 2 Kentucky, No. 6 Florida, No. 10 Florida State, No. 11 Tennessee, No. 14 Harvard, No. 15 Alabama, No. 20 Virginia Tech, No. 21 South Carolina and No. 23 Ole Miss. The men’s teams included No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Oregon, No. 13 Ole Miss, No. 14 Tennessee, No. 15 Syracuse, No. 21 Virginia Tech, No. 22 Kentucky, No. 23 Western Kentucky and No. 25 South Carolina.

Olympians also made their presence known on the track, including Dafne Schippers, the women’s 200m silver medalist of the Netherlands in the 2016 Olympics. Olympic champion and four-time world champion Kerron Clement of the United States, Team USA three-time gold medalist Tianna Bartoletta, American sprinter and jumper Tori Bowie – who took home three medals from Rio 2016 – and Trinidad and Tobago standout Kelly-Ann Baptiste, who competed in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, were also in attendance.

The distance runners made strides early in Gainesville. Gabrielle Hesslau finished third in the women’s 5,000m with a new personal best and a new school record. Her time of 16:38.68 broke Melanie Schultz’s 16:44.10, a mark set nearly 12 years ago. Hesslau smashed her previous best time by 40 seconds.

Sean Grossman broke a school record and set a new personal best in the men’s 5,000m. His time of 14:37.56 in the event broke Sean Pezzulo’s four-year-old record.

Senior sprinter Shakima Wimbley made her outdoor season debut at the Pepsi Florida Relays. She won the women’s 400m with a time of 52.05 seconds. Wimbley joined forces with Anna Runia, Aiyanna Stiverne and Brittny Ellis to finish third in the Tom Jones college women’s 4x400m relay.

The Canes ran against some of the fastest relays in the country, including those from Florida, Oregon, Ohio State, Kentucky and Iowa. They ranked in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) top 25 in the event heading into the competition. UM’s time of 3:27.87 ranks second in school history and third in the NCAA.

Miami’s last home meet of the season is the Hurricane Alumni Invitational that will take place April 7 and 8.