Luis Orta Sets UK Steeplechase Record to Make NCAA Championship

by Jacob Most

May 24, 2013 -

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Luis Orta prolonged his storied Kentucky track and field career for at least one more race in record fashion at the NCAA East Preliminary Championship on Friday. The senior captain battled every centimeter of the 3,000-meter steeplechase to qualify for one last NCAA Championship Meet.

Orta set the school record in the process with a time of 8:42.22 for the No. 7 NCAA East Preliminary Championship qualifying time. He was an automatic qualifier as he placed third in his heat after he ran a great race making the pace for much of it.

The top-12 placers in each event qualify for the NCAA Championships, which will be held June 5-8, 2013 in Eugene, Ore.

“The expectation when you are a leader and you were born with great leadership qualities is it’s never going to be your last race because you understand the magnitude of this stage,” head coach Edrick Floreal said. “I had no doubt that he would qualify, it was just a matter of how fast he would run. It was nice to see him run in that fashion, commanding and dominating.

“That’s typically good for the next round, and that’s what I want to see. Him running hard and feeling he has more. There was never a doubt on that guy. I like that guy a lot.”

Orta reached the NCAA Championships in his signature event for the second year in a row.

He also made his first Cross Country National Championship during the 2012 season.

Three other Wildcats -- Raymond Dykstra, Keilah Tyson and Bradley Szypka -- booked their spots in the Eugene field on Friday. Kentucky now has seven total NCAA qualifiers, four men and three women.

Andrew Evans, Rebecca Famurewa and Chelsea Oswald qualified for NCAAs on Thursday.

“’On to Eugene’ is the magic phrase,” Floreal said. “We have four men and three women qualified after two days. Our ultimate goal is to get at least five each. That would be a good starting point.

“We are pleased with the number of people who have competed at a high level. It’s good to have people moving on to Eugene to move us on to be a better, bigger, more accomplished and more seasoned team.”

Dykstra punched his second ticket to the NCAA Championships in as many seasons as he produced a season best javelin throw that went 72.20 meters / 236 feet 10 inches. The sophomore was All-American in the event last season.

Keilah Tyson ran all-conditions personal best 11.37w (3.8) in the 100 meters quarterfinal to finish fifth in her heat outside one of the top three automatic qualifying times in the heat. She waited through two more heats before confirming her spot on the plane to Eugene as she was the No. 11 qualifier.

Brad Szypka also produced a season-best performance to make NCAAs in the shot put. Szypka shook off a disappointing SEC Championship performance as he improved on all three of his throws in the final.

His top mark 18.33m/60’01.75” was good for ninth place overall, and his outdoor season-best.

Three Wildcats qualified for the Saturday running event regional finals on Friday.

Kayla Parker looked great en route to a spot in the 100-meter hurdles quarterfinal with a time of 13.23w (2.8). Parker was runner up in her heat, and had the No. 10 qualifying time.

Keith Hayes cruised into the 110-meter hurdles regional final in 13.75w (2.5) as he was also runner up in his heat. The senior then showed how much his final NCAA Championships mean to him as he dove across the finish line, but missed a spot in the 400-meter hurdles field that will race at Hayward Field.

Tamyah Pipkin missed the automatic qualifying third-place spot in her 200 meters heat in a photo finish as she crossed the finish line in 23.71 (+2.0). She then waited through five heats to confirm a place in the Saturday quarterfinal, and made it as the No. 19-seed.

Michelle Canterna cleared 3.85m/12’7.5” in the pole vault on her second attempt finishing tied for 16th overall as she was unable to get over the bar at 4m/13’1.5”. The sophomore wraps up her first season as a full time pole vaulter having set the UK vault record 3.96m/12' 11.75".

Joanne Imbert was unable to clear the opening high jump bar at 1.67m/5’5.75” and did not advance.

Isiah Kent finished 27th overall in the men’s shot put. He finishes the season as UK’s only thrower to make Regionals in two events (discus).

Live results of the NCAA East Preliminary Championships are available at North Carolina A&T will provide live video coverage of Saturday’s running events beginning at 6 p.m. ET.

The Kentucky 4x100-meter relay team will begin the day for UK on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.

Allison Peare and Matt Hillenbrand will race over 1,500 meters for trips to Eugene beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Kayla Parker and Keith Hayes will compete in the 100 and 110-meter hurdles with respective event start times of 7:05 and 7:20 p.m.

Tamyah Pipkin will be in the women’s 200 meters regional final at 7:35.

Cally Macumber and Chelsea Oswald will be in the 5,000 meters at 8:05 p.m. and Adam Kahleifeh will race in the men’s 5K at 8:45 p.m.