Cats Turn in a Solid Performance at Kentucky Invitational
Jan. 17, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Kentucky track and field squads started off the indoor season in impressive fashion, breaking two Wildcat freshman records, posting five NCAA provisional marks and writing two new entries into the UK record books on Saturday at Nutter Field House.
Freshman Justin Austin made the most of his debut in the Blue and White breaking former Olympian Tim Harden's 16-year-old converted mark of 6.72 in the 60m dash by posting a third-place time of 6.71. Harden's converted mark of 6.72 held the title for over 15 years. Austin's mark also earned him a potential trip to the NCAA Championships with an at-large provisional mark in his first collegiate race. The Milwaukee, Wis., native's time is good for sixth all-time in the UK record books.
Austin closed the meet with another provisional mark, this time as a member of the men's 4x400m relay. The Wildcat team of senior Jose Acevedo, Austin, junior Kwasi Obeng and senior Mikel Thomas recorded a time of 3:09.61 and a third-place finish.
"The men's 4x400m relay blew me away tonight," UK head coach Don Weber said. "I didn't think we would lose two accomplished veterans like Nathan Browning and Justin Harrison and then come out and race like that with two new guys our first time back out on the track.
"It was one heck of a debut for Justin Austin. To earn a provisional in the 60m dash and then come back and run a 46-second split in the relay is really impressive for a short-distance sprinter."
Acevedo and Thomas also notched individual provisional marks earlier at the meet. In the 400m dash, Acevedo raced across the finish in third place at 47.16 for his mark. Thomas earned his second provisional in the 60m hurdles with a third-place time of 7.83.
Another first-year Wildcat, Luis Orta, also toppled a Kentucky record at the home invite. The distance specialist from Venezuela bested a 19-year-old men's freshman record in the 3,000m run by more than a second, crossing the line at 8:22.83 to place seventh overall. Former Wildcat Neil Crouse set the former standard in 1990 with a mark of 8:24.20.
On the women's side, newcomer Mary Angell posted the sixth-best mark in UK history, throwing a sixth-place distance of 47-7.25.
Several other Wildcats posted top-10 finishes Saturday.Senior Ashley Trimble ran a time of 8.55 in the women's 60m hurdles, just 0.01 seconds off her personal best mark that ranks ninth all-time at UK. Trimble placed tenth overall in the race. The veteran also notched two other top-10 times with a leap of 18-4.25 in the long jump and a seventh-place finish in the women's 4x400m relay with her teammates.
Middle distance runner Jessica Ortman posted two top-three times at the Invitational. Ortman finished second in the mile run clocking in a 4:48.25. The senior added a third-place finish in the 800m run crossing the finish in 2:11.58.
In the men's 3K, newcomer Jeremy Zagorski posted a solid time of 8:19.39. The senior transfer placed fourth in his first indoor race in the Blue and White, three spots ahead of Orta's new freshman mark.
UK sophomore miler Josh Nadzam took home eighth place with a time of 4:17.81.
Obeng added a sixth-place showing in the 400m dash to his 4x400m relay top-10 finish. The junior warmed up with a mark of 47.92 before his turn in the relay to conclude the meet.
"It was an encouraging opener for us overall," Weber said. "It was encouraging for a number of people just by looking at our numbers. We just need to stay focused on what we have going into this season and not get caught up on the things that we can't control."
The Kentucky men opened up the season ranked 11th and the UK women stand 22nd in the preseason poll released by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Four ranked teams from schools well-known to UK fans joined the Wildcat men's squad in Nutter this weekend, led by No. 4 Florida. In-state rival Louisville came into the weekend at No.9 nationally, while SEC foes South Carolina and Georgia rank 16th and 20th in the country, respectively. Other conference member teams that made the trip to Lexington included Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee.
The competition on the women's side was just as tough with five ranked teams joined the Cats. The Volunteers of Tennessee, ranked fourth in the nation led a strong contingent. Fellow SEC rivals Florida (No. 13) and South Carolina (No. 16) alongside two BIG EAST squads in 20th-ranked Miami (Fla.) and Louisville (No. 25) completed the ranked squads this weekend. Other SEC schools in the mix on the women's side included Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.
Kentucky returns to action in two weeks when they travel to the Happy Valley for the Penn State Invitational.
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