Cat Scratches
Interactive Twitter Facebook

The quest for relevence: 2014 outdoor T&F preview

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Andrew Evans, 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships Andrew Evans (Spencer Allen, Sports Image Wire)
Kentucky track and field head coach Edrick Floreal speaks often about the importance of "making an impression."

The thinking goes that Kentucky teams, so often considered an afterthought in recent years at Southeastern Conference and NCAA championships, must prove their worth time and time again on big stages before they can be considered "relevant."

For those familiar with Floreal, relevance is another focal point he often hammers home to the Wildcats.

To that end, Floreal's Wildcats are solidly on the way to relevance given their indoor performances, but they're not there yet.

Despite both teams finishing in the SEC top five for the first time since 1988, the women's team placing in the top 10 at the NCAA Indoor Championships for the first time in 25 years and also earning a school-record ranking No. 6 during the indoor season, much remains to be achieved.

After the SEC Indoor Championships, Floreal admitted to the teams that by his nature it's doubtful the Wildcats will ever satisfy him no matter how good they get -- though he did concede he would be quite happy with a SEC team championship as a start.

Nonetheless starting with the 2014 outdoor track and field season, which begins of Friday, UK will have plenty of opportunities this outdoor season to begin the journey toward reaching their coach's goals.

Floreal for his part has now dubbed the 2014 outdoor season the "quest for relevance." The first step in that quest will begin this weekend as the Wildcats are taking spring break in a warm and ideal setting given the winter they just went through in Lexington, Ky.

The setting is typical of many college students' Spring Break: Tempe, Ariz., but the purpose is a little less so.

While they will have ample opportunity to sit by pools and enjoy the desert sun, almost to a person, the Wildcats will compete on Friday and Saturday, pushing their bodies beyond the limit most people would consider comfortable.

Such is the life of a track and field athlete, not to mention those who compete for teams looking to challenge for national prominence and especially those who compete a coach as demanding as Floreal.

"This weekend will be one of many steps we must take on our march toward NCAA outdoor track and field relevance," Floreal said. "Our purpose going into this trip is twofold. No. 1 we want to set some early NCAA East Preliminary Championship qualifying marks. No. 2 we need to reacquaint ourselves with outdoor track and field while we build and strengthen our team under some much-needed sun rays."

What to watch for: Arizona State Baldy Castillo Invite (March 21-22, 2014)

The action will begin Friday evening and the only running events that night will be the men's and women's 1,500m in addition to the women's hammer throw, the only field event in which UK has entries.

Hillenbrand and Peare look to get back out there
Matt Hillenbrand and Allison Peare both made the mile finals last weekend at the NCAA Indoor Championships, but neither earned the top-8 finishes needed to score points. As such they are both likely to be eager to get back out there and post impressive times.

The men's field will be very deep with UK runners coming off strong indoor seasons. Keffri Neal will race for the first time since his SEC 800m Championships, likewise, Adam Kahleifeh will hit the track for the first time since he claimed the SEC 3k Silver Medal, only behind Hillenbrand who also won the conference mile.

Peare will be joined in the women's mile by Chelsea Oswald and Hiruni Wijayaratne. Oswald was the 2013 SEC 5k and 10k Champion last season, but will make her debut this outdoor season apparently looking to build a base of foot speed before going after the longer distances.

Long throwers debut
Part of the optimism for both of UK's teams to do even better than their monumental indoor season comes from the additional events on the outdoor track and field program that are not possible indoors, chiefly the discus and javelin throws.

Of Kentucky's three outdoor male scorers at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships, two return: Andrew Evans and Raymond Dykstra.

Evans will throw the discus in collegiate-competition for the first time since claiming the NCAA Bronze last season.

Dykstra will throw for the first time in competition since placing fifth at last season's NCAA Outdoor Championships.

UK will also look to turn out a formidable cast of outdoor throwers.

Rebecca Famurewa ranked No. 3 nationally in the discus for much of 2013 as a freshman after earning points in the weight throw indoors.

Madison Jacobs, who was an SEC All-Freshman performer in the shot put indoors, also has great potential as a discus thrower as she had a national prep top-10 mark last year.

Women's sprint options
Kentucky boasts a talented array of women's sprinters led by 2014 NCAA Indoor 200m Champion and 60m runner-up Dezerea Bryant. Given her recent success, as well as that of SEC 60m hurdles champion Kendra Harrison, the duo will not compete at the Castillo Invite after logging heavy loads at last weekend's NCAA Indoor Championships

Even without Bryant and Harrison's services this weekend, the Wildcats will still boast a formidable corps for relays this weekend, including transfer standout Dominique Booker and 2013 Second Team All-American in the 100m dash Keilah Tyson.

Bryant and Harrison will likely make their outdoor debuts at the upcoming Texas Relays.

Records in play
Many Wildcats made significant strides during the outdoor season, and as such multiple school records could fall this weekend.

Kayla Parker headlines the list of candidates to take down a school record this weekend. Parker owns the 100m Hurdles record, 13.16w, set at last season's NCAA Championships. Coming off a NCAA Indoor Championships where she did not make the 60H final and given her drastic improvement since last outdoor season began -- and especially over the course of the most recent indoor campaign -- now would be as good a time as ever for Parker to lower that mark, especially because Harrison will have a great chance at it when she makes her outdoor debut in the upcoming weeks.

Michelle Canterna will also have a chance at her outdoor school record.

Canterna set the UK pole vault mark last outdoor season, and raised the all-conditions mark to 3.97m/13'0.25" at her last outing, the SEC Indoor Championships.

Charles Moushey will have a shot at the UK outdoor freshman pole vault record, after he broke the indoor mark in a fourth-place performance at SECs.

Ibn Short and Justin Kretchmer will also have a shot at the Outdoor Freshman Record in the high jump.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

Leave a comment

Recent Comments