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Track and field thanks seniors at Heart of Bluegrass Classic

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The UK track and Field program held a Senior Day celebration on Saturday at the Heart of Bluegrass Classic. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) The UK track and field program held a Senior Day celebration on Saturday at the Heart of Bluegrass Classic. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
For the first time since 1996, the Kentucky track and field program hosted an outdoor meet as the Heart of the Bluegrass Classic on Saturday. In more ways than one, it was a special day for the program. Not only did it give UK a chance to showcase its world-class facility, but it also provided a chance to honor its seniors as a special ceremony was held toward the end of the day.

UK had great performances by several athletes, highlighted by junior distance runner Cally Macumber, who broke the school-record mile time, and senior Keith Hayes, who claimed victories in four different competitions.

Head coach Edrick Floreal told his seniors earlier in the week to compete in one event and then rest up so they could be in the action while still enjoying the Senior Day celebration. However, Hayes took a different approach, attempting to race in as many heats as possible because he plainly and simply wanted to run.

"I told him if you need me to run the 4 by 800, I'll run the 4 X 800; if you need me to run the mile, I'll run the mile," Hayes said. "I just wanted to run just to be out because everybody doesn't see what we do on a day-to-day basis. They see results here and results there but we got the opportunity to put on a performance."

The Wildcats put on a show for the fans Saturday, winning several competitions. Although Floreal wanted his Cats to come out and perform well, Saturday was less about how they competed and more about a way to show appreciation to the crowd and alumni.

"The point today was less about performance, more about putting on a good show for the crowd," head coach Edrick Floreal said. "We also wanted the alumni to be part of this after 17 years without an outdoor track meet. It was more of a thank you.

One of Floreal's goals for the coming years is to bring the high school state meet to UK. There were 37 high schools competing against each other on Saturday and the commissioner and assistant commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association in attendance to boot.

"I think the meet belongs here at UK," Floreal said. "I think with a facility like that, you have to highlight it. I think having the high schools participate and perform here gave them a sense it's a fast track and they can do well here."

As the day continued and the races starting winding down, a Senior Day celebration took place to honor the student-athletes who have dedicated themselves to the program.

Seniors had their names called and were accompanied by either family members or their respective coaches as they had their list of accolades read off by the public address announcer. After the festivities concluded, there were two more competitions left. The men's and women's 4 by 400-meter races were saved for last as the seniors anchored each.

"Student-athletes have other places they can go to it's not like they are forced to come here. They can go somewhere else and they are great athletes," Floreal said. "If they are going to come here the least we can do is to give them a meaningful thank you to really highlight what they have done and that was my goal."

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