Precious Nwokey Launches Her Way to SEC Championship in Pentathlon

Feb. 25, 2011

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Junior Precious Nwokey launches herself to the 2011 Southeastern Conference pentathlon championship with the third-highest point total in the NCAA this season in a performance on Friday at the Randal Tyson Track Complex.

"It was an outstanding performance and a great accomplishment," head coach Don Weber said. "There are so many things she does well and the multi events are perfect for her and display her multitude of talents."

Nwokey, who came into the conference championships with a league leading point total of 4,024 in the pentathlon, excelled under the pressure of heightened competition setting a new school-record of 4,185 points. The junior snapped her own record set previously this year at the Rod McCravy Memorial Meet on Jan. 28 and now holds the only two scores over 4,000 points in UK history. With Nwokey's win, the Wildcat women sit atop the team standings after day one of the SEC Championships with two full days left to compete.

"I couldn't be more pleased by the entire performance," UK assistant coach of multi events James Thomas said. "I think with coach Althea Thomas and what we have been able to put together we can continue what we have here. Precious really wanted it and I really think she wanted to be an SEC champion the moment she stepped on the track this year and that was her plan. I don't think her goals are finished yet and from the first event she had the attitude and the drive to be as good as she can be and that's all we ask of our athletes."

The native of Houston, started strong out of the gate claiming a third-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles with a time 8.49 to earn 1,019 points. Nwokey then closed quickly on the leaders clearing a personal-best height of 5-08.00/1.73m in the high jump to sit just two points off the top spot. Moving on to the shot put, her weakest event, Nwokey pulled through with a solid performance that kept her within reach of the leader, throwing 35-01.75/10.71m for 576 points. Next came the long jump where the pentathlon swung swiftly in Nwokey's favor, launching 20-03.50/6.18 for a new career-best and a 183 point lead with one event, the 800m run, remaining.

With a 183-point lead, Nwokey had a 12 second cushion running the 800m run, one of her better events. With her bubbling personality on display, Nwokey crossed the finish line in fourth place to capture her first SEC Championship. The record-breaking score of 4,185 also set an NCAA automatic qualifying mark and cemented her spot in College Station, Texas on Mar. 11. Nwokey joins senior Sharif Webb as Kentucky's two NCAA automatic qualifiers so far, with Webb's in the 800m run.

"The good thing about this meet is that we both feel there is room for improvement," James Thomas said. "She didn't come out here and do the very best she's capable of, it wasn't like it was a lifetime best performance. We think it's a stepping stone experience and were hoping that stepping stone leads us to the NCAA meet and gives her the opportunity to really excel."

Continuing the list of accomplishments established by Nwokey's outstanding day, her score is also the fourth-highest point in the pentathlon in SEC history. Last season, Nwokey finished third at the SEC indoor competitions, posting a provisional-qualifying mark of 3,967 points.

Senior Ashley Newby began the day in the pentathlon but was unable to complete the competition.

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Pentathlon (Auto: 4,075 points)
1. Precious Nwokey - 4,185 points

     60m Hurdles
     3. Precious Nwokey - 8.49 (978 points)

     High Jump
     2. Precious Nwokey - 5-08.00/1.73m (891 points)
     Shot Put
     9. Precious Nwokey - 35-01.75/10.71m (576 points)
     Long Jump
     1. Precious Nwokey - 20-03.50/6.18m (905 points)
     800m Run
     4. Precious Nwokey - 2:22.22 (794 points)