By Ariel Sax

Friday was not a bad day for Florida freshman Grant Holloway. He helped usher the Gators all the way to win the 2017 NCAA Men’s Outdoor National Championship.

He won the 110-meter hurdles and he anchored the 4×400 relay that finished fourth and clinched the team title for the Gators, who needed to finish fourth in the relay to beat Texas A&M. On Wednesday, he finished second in the long jump.

“I had a remarkable first outdoor NCAA season,” said Holloway. “I took it upon myself just to work hard and just come out to this outdoor season prepared and ready to go.”

Holloway also had a strong indoor season, becoming the first freshman to win the 60-meter hurdle title since Omar McLeod, the gold medalist in the 110 hurdles at the 2016 Olympics.

Holloway is a dual-sport athlete in both track and football. However, his decision to pursue track instead of football was not a tough decision.

“I stopped thinking about football a long time ago,” said Holloway. “I don’t like relying on other people to do my job.”

One of Holloway’s defining moments at the NCAA championships this week was his win in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.49, only 0.07 shy of his personal best.

Coming in second place with 13.54 and running a personal best was Alabama’s Ruebin Walters. This second time competing at Hayward Field brought him a better time by 0.06 seconds.

Walters’s first time competing at Hayward Field was at the IAAF World Junior Championships in 2014, and he placed sixth in the hurdles.

He believes that hurdles is an event that you mature in and get better at over the years. He said that he changed his stepping tactics when approaching hurdles from seven steps back to his original method of an eight-step approach.

“It has shown a lot in my progression,” he said. “I ran a personal best, so going back to the eight steps was really tremendous for me.”

Walters is proud of his hometown of Diego Martin, Trinidad & Tobago, and the people have kept him motivated throughout training and preparations for the season.

“I just do it for the kids back home, for them to be motivated,” said Walters. “A lot of the young athletes back home look up to me. I show them that I can do it, and I give them some motivation for themselves.”

Friday was a proud day for Holloway and the Gators. Being only a freshman and still a long career ahead of him, Holloway says he’s thankful that he got to help the team out as a “youngin’.”

“I turn off my brain and just execute,” said Holloway. “If things went right or left you just have to rely on your training, rely on [Coach Mike Holloway], and rely on the man upstairs. Because if I had none of that I wouldn’t even be here right now.”