The University of Florida hosts this year’s Pepsi Florida Relays, one of the top high school and collegiate meets held in the United States.
Over 31 teams traveled from across the country to compete in the two-day event.
Florida Gators freshman Da’moni Kelly returned to the field as one of 63 gators set to compete.
“It’s sort of surreal, you know, like you imagine it, but now it’s like the real thing so it’s really exciting,” Kelly said.
Kelly competed at last year’s relay as a senior in high school and remembered what it was like to be amongst the pros.
Just as Buchholz junior Evan Fleming did when he ran the 800 meters run.
“I died in the last lap but it’s a joy to be here, a joy to race against all the fast guys. Especially, like, they’re [Division 1] commits so I got good competition,” Fleming said.
As family and friends cheered, coaches yelled along the sidelines and student-athletes warmed up and prepped their gear, it’s part of the lifestyle and a chance to make their mark in the sport.
“It’s like a big part of my life right now and I just want to do good, I want my parents to be proud of me and I want to just represent the school really well,” Kelly said.
And as for their future aspirations?
“Running here for UF, USF, FSU. I want to run in Florida so…being on the team and wearing the jersey for a Florida team is my goal,” Fleming said.
The events will continue Saturday with Kelly competing in the women’s shot put and discus throw and Fleming in the boy’s 4×800 meters relay.