Saunders Claims Long Jump Silver at NCAA Championships on Day One

By Jacob Most
March 13, 2015 -

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Sha'Keela Saunders earned the Silver Medal and Kenyattia Hackworth placed fifth in the long jump on the first day of the NCAA Indoor Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center on Friday.

Saunders (eight points) and Hackworth (four) combined to give Kentucky 12 points at the conclusion of the first day.

With five of 17 events complete, Kentucky is tied with Akron for fifth place (12 points). Georgia leads with 14 points. Oregon has 13.5, while Baylor and Arkansas are tied with 13 points each.

Saunders left it late in the prelims to get a mark that qualified her for the final and three subsequent jumps. The reigning Southeastern Conference Champion fouled on her first two attempts before jumping 20-feet, 11.75 inches/6/39 meters on her third attempt to vault into second position.

She improved to 21'5.25/6.53m (.75 inches off her school-record) on her fifth attempt, but could not surpass winner Jenna Prandini (Oregon), who won by 4.75 inches.

Hackworth's best jump of 20'8.5"/6.31m came on her third attempt.

Kentucky qualified three of a possible six women's entries into Saturday finals, the last day of the meet.

Dezerea Bryant qualified into two sprint finals, running 7.15 seconds to enter the 60m final as the top seed. She also made the 200m final with the No. 3 qualifying time, 22.74, which is a season best. Bryant is the defending NCAA 200m Champion and returning NCAA 200m Silver Medalist.

Kendra Harrison qualified into the 60m hurdles final with the fifth fastest preliminary time - 8.11.

Keffri Neal qualified into the men's mile final with a blistering time of 3:58.99 - within a second of his personal best. Neal was the fifth-fastest qualifier as all 10 qualifying times were run in four-minutes flat or faster. The UK's men's team's other NCAA entry; Bradley Szypka will compete in the men's shot put on Saturday.

The NCAA Championships continue Saturday at 9:45 a.m. Kentucky's first event on Saturday will begin at 7 p.m.

Other Kentucky Results
Morganne Phillips ran 53.66 and did not advance 400m final, finishing 15th after qualifying for the NCAA Championships in an individual event for the first time.

Rebecca Famurewa placed 15th in the NCAA weight throw with a mark of 65'6"/9.96m.

Leah Nugent placed 14th in the NCAA 60m hurdles prelims with a time of 8.27. She did not advance.

Keilah Tyson ran 23.81 to place 15th in the 200m, and she did not make the final.

Championship Saturday Outlook
Saunders will start the day for UK in triple jump at 7 p.m. ET.

The UK women's team will have five scoring opportunities including the triple jump. Kendra Harrison will be in the 60m hurdles at 7:20 p.m. ET.

Bryant will run the 60m final at 8 p.m. and the 200m final at 8:40 p.m. Kentucky will conclude the meet as the No. 4-seed in the 4x400m relay.

The UK men will have two chances at points. Bradley Szypka will start in the shot put at 7:30 p.m. after Neal runs the mile final at 7:20 p.m.

The top-16 athletes and top-12 relay teams that declared for the Championships in their particular events, based on performances recorded this season, qualified for the Championships.

Athletes earn points for their teams at the NCAA Championships based on top-8 finishes on a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

The NCAA Championships will be broadcast live on ESPN3/WatchESPN at 6:50 p.m. ET on Saturday. A post-produced condensed version of the Championships will air on ESPN on Sunday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m.

The Kentucky women's team scored its most points ever at a NCAA Indoor Championships in 2014, finishing with 23 points for ninth place nationally.

The ninth-place finish earned the Wildcats their highest women's team placement since 1989 when UK ended the meet eighth with the University's previous all-time NCAA Indoor high score, 15 points.

The UK women's team also finished inside the national top-10 for the second time ever, the other being 1989.

Friday Running Events Rnd Kentucky Place Result
Men 1 Mile Prelims 5. Keffri Neal: 3:58.99Q
Women 60 M Hurdles Prelims 5. Kendra Harrison
14. Leah Nugent
8.11q
8.27
Women 400 M Prelims 15. Morganne Phillips 53.66
Women 60 M Prelims 1. Dezerea Bryant 7.15Q
Women 200 M Prelims 3. Dezerea Bryant 15. Keilah Tyson 22.74q
23.81
Friday Field Events Rnd
Women Weight Finals 15. Famurewa 65'6"/19.96m
Women Long Jump Finals 2. S. Saunders 5. K. Hackworth 21'5.75"/6.53m (8 points) 20'8.5"/6.31m (2 Points)
Saturday Running Events Rnd
Men 1 Mile Finals Keffri Neal
Women 60 M Hurdles Finals Kendra Harrison
Women 60 M Finals Dezerea Bryant
Women 200 M Finals Dezerea Bryant Ht
Women 4x400 M Relay Finals Ht. 3: Kentucky
Saturday Field Events Rnd Start List Result
Women Triple Jump Finals S. Saunders
Men Shot Put Finals Brad Szypka