COLUMBIA — Florida redshirt freshman Jimmy Clark pointed to the sky with both hands as he crossed the finish line in first place of the 10,000-meter race at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Even through labored breathing and sips of water, the ear-to-ear grin on Clark’s face never seemed to change. It was the look of someone who had executed a plan to perfection.
For 24 out of the 25 laps in the 10,000-meter race, Clark never held the lead. In the race’s final lap, Clark quickly closed the gap between himself and leader Solomon Haile of Arkansas. The two were virtually even with 200 meters remaining. That’s when Clark shifted into another gear, somehow sprinting as Haile began to fade.
“That was by design,” Florida distance coach Paul Spangler said. “If the race comes down to a kicker, he’s got an advantage.”
Clark ran the final lap in 59 seconds, giving him a personal best time of 29 minutes and 44 seconds. Haile finished in second place, trailing Clark by three seconds.
“I really wanted to close hard,” Clark said. “I was confident with the way I could finish. When you’re confident you can do anything.”
As he exited the track at Audrey J. Walton Stadium to change and run a cool down, Clark still wore the same ear-to-ear grin.