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Links: Track and field in Oregon for nationals

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Last season, three UK student-athletes qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. This year, 10 are in Eugene, Ore., to participate in college track and field's top event.

How's that for improvement under first-year head coach Edrick Floreal?

The meet lasts from Wednesday until Saturday and four Wildcats - Bradley Szypka, Chelsea Oswald, Keilah Tyson and Luis Orta - will compete today. Pac-12.com will broadcast all of Wednesday's events from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, while ESPN3.com and ESPNU will show much of the competition on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For complete broadcast information and a meet schedule, check out the release on UKathletics.com.

Cory Weigel will have a story on Orta's final collegiate meet later, but in the meantime here are a few links to stories written this week about UK track and field's trip northwest.

UK track and field program on the rise after Floreal's first season as head coach (Jon Hale, KyForward.com)

Six men -- Andrew Evans (discus), Raymond Dykstra (javelin), Bradley Szypka (shot put), Luis Orta (3,000-meter steeplechase), Matt Hillenbrand (1,500 meters) and Keith Hayes (110-meter hurdles) -- will participate in the NCAA Championships for UK this week. They will be joined by UK women Chelsea Oswald (5,000 meters and 10,000 meters), Rebecca Famurewa (discus), Keilah Tyson (100 meters) and Kayla Parker (100-meter hurdles).

One year after sending just three athletes to the NCAA National Championships, UK team members credit the new coaching staff for much of the improvement.

"It's completely different," Orta said. "Now it's all about winning, performing well, doing good, running fast, running more. You can see the change now. We're all doing way better than last year. We're doing more miles, we're working harder, we're training twice a day and stuff like that, things that we were not doing last year."

Chelsea Oswald aiming high again at NCAA track meet (Leigh Dannhauser, Lexington Herald-Leader)

This week marks Oswald's first time at the outdoor national meet but she is not new to the national stage. She is a three-time All-American in cross country and indoor track and field.

Both she and Floreal have said that the goal is for her to finish in the top eight in both of her events. But Oswald has set her goals even higher.

"I'm hoping I can get a qualifying time for (the USA National Championships)," Oswald said. She does not think that her current times are fast enough to gain entry into the meet in either event.

10 Kentucky Wildcats heading to NCAA track championship (Kyle Tucker, Louisville Courier-Journal)

Still, in Year One under Floreal, the Wildcats have doubled their number of NCAA-qualifying men (six) and gone from no female qualifiers to four, including junior Chelsea Oswald, who won the Southeastern Conference 10,000 meters in league-record time. She qualified for nationals in that and the 5,000 and is ranked top 16 among the 24 qualifiers in both events.

UK has top-16 athletes in seven events: Rebecca Famurewa (No. 3 in women's discus), Andrew Evans (No. 5 in men's discus), Oswald (No. 10 in 5,000, No. 16 in 10,000), Raymond Dykstra (No. 12 in men's javelin), Keith Hayes (No. 13 in men's 100 hurdles) and Luis Orta (No. 14 in men's steeplechase). At the NCAA Championships, the top eight finishers in each event are first-team All-Americans, and the next eight earn second-team honors.

"With the new coaches, everything is different now," Orta said. "Now we're there to win, to get All-American, to make it to the finals. ... You can see the change now. We're all doing way better than last year. We're doing more miles, we're working harder, we're training twice a day, things we were not doing last year."

Photo gallery: Cats train in Eugene

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