Luis Orta Rallies to Win 3,000-Meter Run on Day Two

Feb. 25, 2012

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University of Kentucky distance runner Luis Orta had a race to remember Saturday evening at the 2012 Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships. Orta stormed back from sixth place with four laps to go in the men's 3,000-meter run at E.J. Nutter Field House to take first-place honors and give the Kentucky men's track and field team 10 important points. The win is Kentucky's first-ever victory in the men's 3,000m in SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships history.

"I was prepared for two types of races: a pretty fast race or a very slow race," Orta said. "This race was in the middle of what I was expecting, so I felt very comfortable throughout the entire race. Walter Luttrell was in front of me and that gave me a lot of confidence. With about two-three laps to go I felt super strong. I saw I was third, but I was (moving in on) the first guy. I was like, `Well, this is my last chance, let's go do it, try to get him.' It was perfect for how I was having it in my head."

Orta's win gave the Kentucky men's track and field team 10 points toward the championships' team total. Coupled with sophomore Andrew Evans' seventh-place finish in the men's weight throw, Kentucky sits in a tie for sixth in the men's team rankings with Alabama with 12 points. The Kentucky women's team currently sits in 11th with two points earned by senior Jennifer Svoboda in the women's shot put.

Orta, a senior in indoor track and a junior in outdoors, began the 3,000m near the front with Luttrell, who Luis said set a great pace that helped him tremendously. After moving back to the middle of the pack, Orta began to make his move back to the front about midway through the event.

"You're way more worried when they're in the lead early in a distance race because they're like the engine that's pulling the train," UK head coach Don Weber said. "The person in front isn't running that much faster than anybody else, but when you're behind there's a sense that you're linked with the guy in the front. You don't have to do any work; you don't have to set any standard, you just run along with them. Luis is comfortable from behind and knows he has a good finish. I got a little concerned when the guy in front stretched it a little, but when (Luis) got out of the big pack and could see the guy in the lead, knowing Luis I thought, `He'll make a run at the guy.' I think Luis could tell even though he was a long way away that (the guy in first) was starting to struggle and that's like blood in the water."

Standing at just 5-feet-4 in stature, Orta struggled to get around a few of the runners in front of him initially, but once he finally did he surged forward in the race to be able to cut the lead held by Arkansas' Lane Boyer to an attainable distance.

"At first I was blocked because there were a lot of people and they're always bigger than me so it's always hard for me to get out of there," Orta said. "But when I did I saw that he was kind of far away, but I knew I had time and a couple laps left so I knew I could get him. So, I went for it and it worked out."

Weber, who praised the Venezuelan native for the fight he runs with in each race, said the win was really gratifying.

"To watch Luis, it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog," Weber said. "Ever since he's been here, even from the first race, he's been a fighter. That's been one of the things you can count on with Luis. He'll get in there and scrap and fight. To have that happen to him at home in his last indoor race is really gratifying."

Evans got the scoring started for the men's team, setting a new career-best mark at UK with a throw of 17.70m/58-01.00 in the weight throw. Evans' throw put him in seventh place, earning two points for the Wildcats.

Svoboda, a senior from Howells, Neb., earned two points for the women's team with a seventh place throw in the shot put. Svoboda had her best throw, a 14.87m/48-09.50, on her second attempt.

Much of Saturday's competition featured preliminary events in preparation for Sunday's finals. Kentucky will have two men's sprinters in the 60m hurdles finals Sunday, with sophomore Brandon Bagley and junior Darryl Bradshaw each qualifying. Bagley ran an 8.12, his best time this season, and qualified for the finals by finishing third in his heat. Bradshaw finished eighth with a time of 8.28, but qualified for the finals by having one of the top three remaining times among competitors who did not finish in the top three of their respective heat.

Kentucky had a strong showing in both the women's and men's 800m. Sophomore Allison Peare raced to an eighth-place finish Saturday in the women's 800m with a time of 2:08.66. Peare's time is the sixth fastest in UK history. Peare, who hails from North Canton, Ohio, will race in the finals at 3:10 p.m. ET.

On the men's side, freshman Keffri Neal and sophomore Robert Scharold each qualified for the 800m finals. Neal moved on to the finals with the second fastest time in his heat, crossing the finish line in 1:51.51. Scharold raced to a career-best time of 1:52.48 to finish in eighth overall and earn a spot in the nine-man finals.

Senior Trent Halasek qualified for the men's one-mile finals by finishing third in his heat with a time of 4:13.87. Halasek will race against nine other runners in the finals at 2:05 p.m. on Sunday.

In the women's 200m dash, freshman Keilah Tyson finished ninth with a time of 24.00. Tyson joined Georgia's Tynia Gaither as the only two freshmen in the event to qualify for Sunday's 200m final beginning at 3:30 p.m. Fellow Kentucky freshman Tamyah Pipkin finished 19th in the race with a career-best time of 24.92.

Freshman Angelica Whaley also recorded a career-best time, finishing the 400m dash in 55.23. Whaley's performance strengthens her hold of the sixth fastest 400m in school history. Sophomore Julie Nunn finished 19th while junior Shiara Robinson finished 20th with a season-best time of 55.62.

After a courageous comeback performance by Orta in the 3K to finish day two's events, Weber is hoping the Wildcats will be able to carry over that momentum to the third and final day of the championships on Sunday.

"I hope Luis' performance can get us going, but ultimately what it really boils down to is how they understand and perceive things in their own head," Weber said. "This is a very competitive league and they all live in a competitive, comparable world. They need to understand that, `It may not have worked out today, but I've got another opportunity to come back tomorrow.' I think today, with as many young people as we have, nerves were probably rampant."

The championships will conclude Sunday with the finals of each event that takes place. Sunday's competition will start at 11 a.m. with the women's weight throw, women's high jump, women's triple jump and men's pole vault. The final event of the championships will be the men's and women's 4x400-meter relay at 4:40 p.m. ET.

The SEC Indoor Championships will air as part of a 90-minute show on ESPNU on Sunday, March 11 from 5-6:30 p.m. ET. will stream the meet live from 1:25-5:00 p.m. on Sunday. For fans wanting to watch the action prior to the start of ESPN3's webcast, will live stream the portions of the meet not on

For all news and information on the Kentucky track and field teams and the 2012 SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships, follow the Wildcats on Twitter at "KentuckyTrack" and go to and visit the "2012 SEC Indoors Central" page at the track and field home page.

SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships
Nutter Field House - Lexington, Ky.
Feb. 24-26, 2012

Women's Team Standings (Day Two) - Five Events Scored
1. Arkansas - 48 points
2. Florida - 40 points
3. Tennessee - 26 points
4. LSU - 18 points
5. Ole Miss - 16 points
6. Mississippi State - 13 points
7. Georgia - 12 points
8. Vanderbilt - 8 points
9. Alabama - 7 points
10. South Carolina - 5 points
11. Kentucky - 2 points
12. Auburn - 0 points

Men's Team Standings (Day Two) - Five Events Scored
1. Florida - 50 points
2. Arkansas - 44 points
3. Georgia - 24 points
4. Ole Miss - 20 points
5. LSU - 19 points
6. Kentucky - 12 points
6. Alabama - 12 points
8. Auburn - 7 points
9. Tennessee - 6 points
10. South Carolina - 1 point

Kentucky's Women's Point Scorers
Jennifer Svoboda - 2 points (7th - shot put)

Kentucky Men's Point Scorers
Luis Orta - 10 points (1st - 3,000-meter run)
Andrew Evans - 2 points (7th - weight throw)

Saturday's Results
Men's Weight Throw (Finals)
7. Andrew Evans - 17.70m/58-01.
Men's High Jump (Finals)
-- Todd Nibbs - NH
-- Ryan Ratliff - NH

Women's Pole Vault (Finals)
9. Shelby Kennard - 3.80m/12-05.50
-- Samantha Stenzel - NH
-- Michelle Canterna - DNS

Women's Long Jump (Finals)
9. Keilah Tyson - 5.92m/19-05.25
21. Kayla Parker - 5.62m/18-05.25
23. Candice Taylor - 5.43m/17-09.75

Women's 60-Meter Hurdles (Prelims)
11. Kayla Parker - 8.46

Men's 60-Meter Hurdles (Prelims)
6. Brandon Bagley - 8.12Q
8. Darryl Bradshaw - 8.28q

Women's Shot Put (Finals)
7. Jennifer Svoboda - 14.87m/48-09.50

Women's 60-Meter Dash (Prelims)
19. Tamyah Pipkin - 7.69

Women's One-Mile Run (Prelims)
24. Megan Wright - 5:00.97

Men's One-Mile Run (Prelims)
6. Trent Halasek - 4:13.87Q
18. Matthew Hillenbrand - 4:19.62
19. Adam Kahleifeh - 4:20.46

Women's 400-Meter Dash (Prelims)
16. Angelica Whaley - 55.23
19. Julie Nunn - 55.47
20. Shiara Robinson - 55.62

Men's 400-Meter Dash (Prelims)
30. Ben Mason - 50.65
32. Brandon Bagley - 51.63

Men's Long Jump (Finals)
9. Terence Boyd - 7.27m/23-10.25

Women's 800-Meter Run (Prelims)
8. Allison Peare - 2:08.66q

Men's 800-Meter Run (Prelims)
5. Keffri Neal - 1:51.51Q
8. Robert Scharold - 1:52.48q
16. Sean Keane - 1:53.79

Men's Heptathlon
DNF. Daniel Buckles
    60-Meter Hurdles
    10. Buckles - NT
    Pole Vault
    DNF. Buckles - DNS
    1,000-Meter Run
    DNF. Buckles - DNS

Women's 200-Meter Dash (Prelims)
9. Keilah Tyson - 24.00q
19. Tamyah Pipkin - 24.92

Men's 200-Meter Dash (Prelims)
23. Ben Mason - 22.05

Women's 3,000-Meter Run (Finals)
11. Cally Macumber - 9:38.12

Men's 3,000-Meter Run (Prelims)
1. Luis Orta - 8:11.30
16. Walter Luttrell - 8:31.12
18. Jared Phillips - 8:42.39

Friday's Results
Men's Heptathlon
10. Daniel Buckles - 2,517 points
    60m Dash
    10. Buckles - 7.60 (681 points)
    Long Jump
    10. Buckles - 6.25m/20-06.25 (641 points)
    Shot Put
    10. Buckles - 10.65m/34-11.25 (525 points)
    High Jump
    10. Buckles - 1.85m/6-00.75 (670 points)