UK Women's Track & Field Finishes as NCAA Runner-Up in Best-Ever Finish

Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics


By Jacob Most
June 13, 2015 -

Sidebar: Hurdles 'nerd' Harison an ideal fit at UK 
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EUGENE, Ore. -- The Kentucky women's track and field team finished as the National Runner-up, the program's best-ever finish, at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships in front of 11,734 fans inside Hayward Field on Saturday.

Meet-host Oregon edged Kentucky 59-50. Texas A&M scored 47, Arkansas had 43 and Georgia was fifth with 41 points.

Seniors Kendra Harrison and Dezerea Bryant, the duo so responsible helping turn the Wildcats into a national track and field power, led UK on Saturday with each turning in their best performances as collegiate competitors.

“It was a group effort,” third-year head coach Edrick Floréal said. “Nine points short is not bad in year three. Now we have to find a way to get the next color trophy.”

Harrison won the 100-meter hurdles NCAA Title and Bryant won the 200m Championship with a time of 22.18, which is the non-altitude collegiate record and the second fastest wind-legal time in NCAA history.

Bryant edged hometown favorite Jenna Prandini in a photo finish, running a time which ranks No. 3 in the world this season. Bryant's also defeated previous NCAA Champions Kamaria Brown (Texas A&M) who was third in 22.24 and Kyra Jefferson (Florida) who was fourth in 22.24. Bryant was the 2014 NCAA Indoor 200m Champion.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” Bryant said of winning the 200m. “The only thing that was going through my mind was ‘just finish the race and lean as hard as you can.’ I wasn’t worried about anyone else, my main focus was finishing. I saw Jenna (Prandini’s) leg so I was just like ‘stay relaxed and try to finish as best you can.’ “

Harrison scored a team-high 18 points for the meet, as she finished as Silver Medalist in the 400m hurdles for the second year in a row. Her total was the second best of anyone at the meet behind only Prandini (24 -- won 100m, second in 200m and third in long jump).

Bryant claimed the Bronze Medal in the 100m to finish with 16 points for the meet, which tied her with Arkansas' Dominque Scott and Wisconsin's Kelsey Card for the third most of any competitor at the NCAA Championships.

Harrison completed the 2015 NCAA short hurdles double as she won the 60m hurdles indoors in March. She ran 12.55, to become the third fastest woman in the history of the NCAA Championships. Her personal best of 12.50, at the Southeastern Conference Championships last month made her the third fastest woman in NCAA history at any meet, a place which she also holds in the 60m hurdles.

She also completed the 2015 season undefeated in short-hurdles races.

“I got out strong in the 100m hurdles, but then I hit a few hurdles,” Harrison said. “I tried to tell myself ‘keep going.’ I’m happy with the win.”

Harrison came agonizingly close to doing the NCAA 100m-400m hurdles double -- which only Queen Harrison has done -- with her Silver Medal performance in the 400m hurdles.

Coming back just 35 minutes after winning the 100m hurdles, Harrison led for much of the 400m hurdles race-- considered by many to be the most excruciating event in the sport -- and even over the final hurdle. But Texas A&M's Shamier Little passed her in the dying moments to defend her NCAA Title with a world-leading time of 53.74. Harrison ran a personal best time of 54.09 as the two ran the Nos. 4 and 5 fastest times in collegiate and NCAA-Championships history.

“I don’t think anyone can understand how tough it is to do both of those events back to back,” Floréal said. “It’s like ying and yang, these events contradict one another. Having 35 minutes rest and do both of them is impressive.

“I don’t think people realize how tough that is. In the history of track one woman has one woman (Queen Harrison in 2010) has won both and she had four days to do it. Kendra came within a couple tenths of a second of winning both with 35 minutes rest.”

Leah Nugent
earned her first NCAA Medal, a Bronze, in the 400m hurdles as she and Harrison combined to score 14 points in the event. Nugent ran 55.82.

Rebecca Famurewa scored her first NCAA Championship points as she placed seventh in the discus with a mark of 181'9"/ 55.41m, for two points.

Keilah Tyson also scored her first NCAA Championship points, as she placed seventh in the 100m with a time of 11.21. With her two and Bryant's six (third place), UK scored eight points in the 100m.

Sha'Keela Saunders soared to a lifetime best long jump to claim the NCAA Bronze Medal on Thursday. The mark was 22-feet,1.75 inches/6.75 meters to score six points.

Saunders, a sophomore, surpassed the Olympic A Standard as well as the standard for the 2015 IAAF World Championships: 22'1.75"/6.75m.

Raymond Dykstra scored five points in the men's javelin, to lead the Kentucky men's team to a 44th-place finish.

Points are earned at the NCAA Championships by individuals and relay teams earning top-eight finishes on a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.