Kentucky Welcomes Another Elite Field For Annual McCravy Memorial

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky’s Rod McCravy Memorial Track and Field Meeting has gained national prominence over the years – especially the last two – and the 2016 edition of the meet again boasts ample reason to attract the track world’s eyes. 

“I want people to get excited about our University, our facility and our program,” UK head coach Edrick Floréal , who is also the architect of the meet’s current configuration, said. “The higher profile of the McCravy Memorial has helped that.”

Yet another stellar field will descend upon Lexington this weekend. 

As competitive as ever
Few meets have the record of kick starting historic seasons the way the McCravy does. So many of the nation’s top programs have earmarked the McCravy as their annual starting point on the road to the NCAA Championships.

Hundreds of collegians will run jump and throw inside Nutter Field House Friday and Saturday for their first tests against top-class competition this year.

And perhaps more notably for the casual track fan, this year the road to Portland, Oregon for late-Winter’s IAAF World Indoor Championships and more broadly Rio De Janeiro for the Summer Olympic Games will start in Lexington for many of the top contenders.

Accounting for professionals and unattached runners in addition to collegians, the initial field for the 2016 McCravy Memorial features four participants from  last year’s IAAF World Championships. Six 2016 McCravy participants have qualified for past World Championships.

More broadly the field features 17 athletes that to-date have combined to win 29 NCAA titles. Accounting for All-America honors, the number nears triple digits.

Why the McCravy?
Given the precedent established the last two years it's no surprise that many of the world’s best athletes are starting their season at the McCravy. Last year the meet was dubbed a NCAA Championships preview. The 2015 McCravy lived up to that moniker and more. 

All four 2015 NCAA Champion teams the men’s and women’s champions indoors and outdoors had competed in the McCravy earlier that year. In 2014 three of the four NCAA Champion teams had competed in the McCravy.

Additionally, both of the Bowerman Award winners and four of the six finalists competed at the McCravy last year. The number of participants that went on the win individual NCAA titles in 2015 is even more staggering.

When all was said and done in 2015, nine world-leading times and 15 NCAA leaders recorded at the McCravy.

The 2016 outlook
So while competition for the title of the nation’s best meet has ramped up this year, the McCravy still has as good a claim to the throne as any competition.

Let’s not forget that 10 top-25 teams (four men’s, six women’s) are entered in the McCravy field, a number that is tied for the national-lead among meets taking place this weekend. That list includes the nation’s top-ranked men’s team (Florida), No. 2 women’s team and No. 6 men’s teams (Georgia), and the No. 8 hosts Kentucky.

And more importantly for fans of the sport considering this year’s stacked McCravy field, the chances of getting a first look at some of the stars who will dazzle the world this summer in Rio is as good as any.

Honoring Rod McCravy
The high level of competition at the meet has turned into a fitting tribute to its namesake: the late Rodriq McCravy. 

McCravy, a UK track athlete, died at the age of 19 in 1987 while sleeping in his dorm room. Although only a sophomore, Rod had already become the track team's leader. His personal charisma and genuine care for others earned him the respect and admiration of all his teammates. 

His personal impact on his teammates, friends, and coaches went well beyond athletics. A social work major, Rod is remembered as a dedicated, enthusiastic athlete, a conscientious student, a cherished friend and most important, an outstanding human being. 

A graduate of Louisville Trinity High School, Rod was a two-time class AAA state champion in the 300m hurdles. He once held the UK freshman 400m hurdles record (53.35), and was part of a then-school record 4x400m relay team.

The meet is named in his honor to help members of the UK track and field community to remember him as well as provide an ongoing opportunity to speak about Rod and the positive influence he had on everyone who knew him.

Admission to Nutter Field House is free on both Friday and Saturday.

The meet will be broadcast on SEC Network+ on Saturday beginning at Noon ET. The live broadcast, with legendary track and field announcer Dennis McNulty on the call, will feature highlights of some of the top events from Friday as well.

Multi-events will start the days off on both Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m. Field events will begin at 3 p.m. on Friday, and at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

On Friday the running events will get under way at 6 p.m., while on Saturday they will start at Noon.

Fans can park in the Green Lot outside Nutter Field House and Commonwealth Stadium for free on both days of the meet.

Fans can pick up 2016 UK track and field posters at Nutter Field House. They will have chances to win UK track and field items as well via social media prompts from @KentuckyTrack handles on
Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Participating Teams
Baylor (No. 11 women)
Clemson (No. 22 women)
Florida (No. 1 men, No. 6 women)
Georgia (No. 6 men, No. 2 women)
Houston (No. 25 men)
Kentucky (No. 8 women)
Miami (No. 17 women)
Virginia (No. 18 men)