Track and Field: Webb Leads Cats, Punches Ticket to NCAA's
Feb. 12, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. - On a day where a number of Kentucky track and field student-athletes excelled under the pressure of championship like fields and conditions, senior Sharif Webb rose to the top as he locked in UK's first NCAA automatic qualifying mark of the year, Saturday at the Husky Classic in Seattle.
"Training has been going very well," head coach Don Weber said. "It's very encouraging to see everyone rise to the occasion at the most competitive meet in the country."
Webb, a native of Paramus N.J., grabbed a fifth place finish in the men's 800-meter run with a time of 1:47.91 at the Husky Classic, to capture his spot at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The championships will be held March 11-12 at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium in College Station, Texas. The senior narrowly missed out on eclipsing his career-best time of 1:47.86, set last season at Notre Dame. His personal-best time currently ranks second on UK's all-time 800m list, only trailing David Freeman who ran 1:47.40 in 2003. Webb returned to Kentucky this season as the Wildcats only men's indoor All-America honoree a year ago and with his performance Saturday will have an opportunity to duplicate that run.
"I was very pleased with Sharif's race," head coach Don Weber said. "Getting an automatic qualifying mark during the regular season allows us to prepare for the national championships without concerning ourselves with anything other than the SEC Championships. We haven't started our specific preparations for the 800m so it will be exciting to see how much better he can be."
Webb wasn't the only Kentucky athlete to do well on Saturday, 10 Wildcats claimed personal-best marks with at least one occurring at each of the three meets UK attended. In preparation for the conference championships that begin in two weeks, schools send split squads across the nation in search of the best competitions in each event area. Kentucky sent sprinters, jumpers and vaulters to the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., distance runners to the Husky Classic and mostly throwers to the Akron Invitational.
The Husky Classic is a perennial haven for distance runners and this year was no exception, boasting Olympians, NCAA Champions and All-America honorees sprinkled throughout the distance events. This highly touted competition pushed UK's student-athletes to six personal bests during Saturday's events.
All three men's milers improved their career times with senior Josh Nadzam beginning the trend, finishing in 4:06.04, claiming 33rd position. Nadzam set his previous personal-best time earlier in the season at the Rod McCravy in a time of 4:06.70. Two freshmen followed, cutting considerable seconds off their own personal-best marks with Matt Hillenbrand finishing in 4:10.25 and Adam Kahleifeh in 4:11.77. Hillenbrand shaved nearly five seconds (4:16.45) while Kahleifeh slashed more than 10 seconds (4:22.03) off their previous best.
"I was equally pleased with Matt Hillenbrand and Adam Kahleifeh, our freshman milers," Weber said. "They both ran huge personal bests and have made dramatic progress, so we're all eager to see what they will do down the road. Josh ran a personal best indoors in the mile but he was hoping to do better, so he was disappointed."
In the final two races of the Husky Classic, the men's and women's 3,000m runs, Kentucky produced three top-20 finishes with each recording the best times of their careers. Sophomore Cally Macumber ran the best 3,000m race of her life to finish 17th with a time of 9:24.92 and completed the race more than 21 seconds faster than her previous lifetime best. The sophomore also shot straight into the UK record books at fifth on the school's all-time 3,000m list. The men's participants followed suit with juniors Luis Orta (8:12.88) and Walter Luttrell (8:13.41) grabbing 16th- and 18th-place finishes. Each also ran career-best races with Orta slightly improving from 8:13.23 but Luttrell managed to circle the track almost 10 seconds faster than anytime previously. Freshman Stacey Eden completed his 3,000m race earlier in the day with a huge personal-best time of 8:34.62. The frehmans previous best race came at the Virginia Tech Elite finishing in 8:59.89, and improvement of nearly 25 seconds.
"In the 3000m, Cally, Walt, Luis and Stacey all ran personal best which was very encouraging," Weber said. "Cally and Walt were exceptional and ran very daring races."
Moving from Seattle to Fayetteville, the Tyson Invitational brings the best sprinters, jumpers and vaulters from around the country to the site of this season's SEC Indoor Championships.
Junior Precious Nwokey started Saturday right where she left off Friday, collecting her third personal-best mark of the weekend. The junior finished the 200m dash in 24.50 marking an improvement from her previous-best time of 24.53, which she set May 14, 2010. Nwokey had never run the 200m indoors. Nwokey set personal-best marks in the 60-meter hurdles and long jump on Friday.
Junior Terri-Ann Grant had her best day as a Wildcat clearing 5-08.00/1.73m to move into a tie for fifth on UK's all-time high jump list. Sticking with the jumpers, junior Steve Crouse set a career-best mark in the long jump landing 49-07.00/15.11m away from the launching board. Crouse's long jump secured a third-place finish, marking his best result this season.
The third location Kentucky traveled to was Akron where throwing was the focus. Freshman Isiah Kent posted the best mark of his career in the men's shot put with a long toss of 50-03.25/15.25m to claim second-place overall in the blue division. Kent's previous-best throw was 50-00.50/15.25m set earlier in the year at the Rod McCravy Memorial Meet. On the women's side, senior Heather Smith came away with the 20 pound weight throw blue division title launching the implement a season-best 59-04.75/18.10m.
After a week off, Kentucky will head to the Tyson Track Complex in Fayetteville, Ark for the 2011 SEC Indoor Championships, Feb. 25-27.
For continuous updates follow the UK track and field team on twitter @KentuckyTrack, and at UKathletics.com.
Women's One Mile (Auto: 4:37.00)
59. Anna Bostrom - 5:01.90
Men's One Mile (Auto: 3:59.00)
33. Josh Nadzam - 4:06.04
58. Matt Hillenbrand - 4:10.25
68. Adam Kahleifeh - 4:11.77
Men's 800m Run (Auto: 1:48.00)
5. Sharif Webb - 1:47.91
Women's 3,000m Run (Auto: 9:13.00)
17. Cally Macumber - 9:24.92
56. Taylor Wendler - 9:59.60
Men's 3,000m Run (Auto: 7:54.50)
16. Luis Orta - 8:12.88
18. Walter Luttrell - 8:13.41
106. Stacey Eden - 8:34.62
Women's 200m Dash (Auto: 23.20)
42. Precious Nwokey - 24.50
53. Jazmyn Shorter - 24.77
75. Shiara Robinson - 25.19
Women's High Jump Invite (Auto: 1.85m)
T4. Terri-Ann Grant - 5-08.00/1.73m
Men's 200m Dash (Auto: 20.83)
30. Kyron Joseph - 21.65
37. Kadeem Kushimo - 21.77
Men's 400m Dash (Auto: 46.15)
51. Cody Miller - 49.20
64. Ben Mason - 49.97
70. Cortlandt Harris - 50.28
Men's Triple Jump Open (Auto: 16.15m)
3. Steve Crouse - 49-07.00/15.11m
Men's Triple Jump Invite (Auto: 16.15m)
13. David Banks - 48-07.50/14.82m
15. Keenan Hall - 48-03.25/14.71m
Men's Shot Put Gold Division (Auto: 19.30m)
9. Colin Boevers - 52-07.50/16.04m
Women's Shot Put Gold Division (Auto: 16.90m)
5. Mary Angell - 50-10.00/15.49m
Men's Shot Put Blue Division (Auto: 19.30m)
2. Isiah Kent - 50-03.25/15.25m
Women'sWeight Throw Blue Division (Auto: 21.00m)
1. Heather Smith - 59-04.75/18.10m
Men's 800m Run Blue Division (Auto: 1:48.00)
19. William James - 1:57.21
22. Matt Frawley - 1:58.86
Women's 800m Run Blue Division (Auto: 2:05.00)
16. Allison Peare - 2:19.51
Women's One Mile Blue Division (Auto: 4:37.00)
6. Allison Peare - 5:09.73
7. Megan Wright - 5:10.26
11. Hiruni Wijayaratne - 5:15.31
23. Katy Achtien - 5:36.70