UK Track and Field to Host SEC Indoor Championships

By Jacob Most
Feb. 26, 2015 -

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - For the second time in 10 months, the Kentucky track and field program will host the nation's best amateur athletes for the Southeastern Conference Championships. This time indoors at Nutter Field House.

"The No. 1 thing when you host a meet is you want the meet to start on time, finish on time and then leave the performance to the athletes," Kentucky third-year head coach Edrick Floréal said. "We want to put on a world-class event. We want people to walk out of here with a sense that the University of Kentucky can do things at the highest level."

The SEC Championships are widely considered the nation's best conference meet, and this year the national rankings agree.

A NCAA-best 16 SEC men's and women's teams are ranked among the nation's top-25 teams, according to the latest Computer Rankings from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The SEC boasts the nation's top men's (Florida) and women's (Arkansas) teams this week. The Kentucky women's team is ranked No. 9.

Considered the "the best conference in the nation" by Flotrack, a claim backed up in most numerical analysis, Kentucky track fans will be in for a treat this weekend.

SEC men's and women's track and field athletes lead the nation in 14 individual events entering this weekend's SEC Indoor Championships.

Nutter Field House is playing home to the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships for the seventh time in its history. The venue also hosted the SEC Indoor Championships in 1996, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2012. The facility features a six-lane 290 meter track with a nine-lane home stretch for 60m races.

Lexington has become a hot bed of elite collegiate track and field in recent years having hosted the SEC Outdoor Championships last May not to mention January's Rod McCravy Memorial Meet, which has turned into the nation's best regular-season meet.

Kentucky is slated to host the NCAA Outdoor East Preliminary Championships in 2017.

At the McCravy last month - where coincidentally 16 ranked teams were also in the field - nine facility records were broken. Plenty of those records will be in jeopardy over the next two days considering the quality of competition on tap.

Meet Information
The meet begins at 10 a.m. ET both days and live results can be found at: http://www.ukathletics.com/sports/c-track/spec-rel/stats_2015_sec.

Tickets will be on sale at the main entrance of Nutter Field House. Single-session tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for youth (ages 3-18) and seniors (65 and older) and free for children ages 2 and under.

The SEC Indoor Championships will be streamed live on SEC Network + during the following times: Friday, February 27 (3:50-9 p.m. ET) and Saturday, February 28 (1:50-6:30 p.m. ET). The meet will also air as part of a 90-minute show on ESPNU on Monday, March 9 beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. The broadcast talent includes Dwight Stones (play-by-play), Larry Rawson (analyst) and Jill Montgomery (sideline reporter).
Sixteen SEC men's and women's track and field teams are ranked among the nation's top-25 teams, according to the latest Division I Indoor Track and Field National Team Computer Rankings, announced Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

The defending SEC Indoor men's champion is Arkansas, which has captured a league-leading 20 SEC Indoor crowns. The Razorback men have won three consecutive SEC Indoor Championships and nine of the last 10.

The defending SEC Indoor women's champion is Florida, which has won three of the last five SEC Indoor crowns. LSU has claimed a league-leading 12 SEC Indoor women's titles all-time.

Wildcats to Watch
Kentucky enters the 2015 SEC Championships with four current team-members that combined to win seven individual titles last season.

UK's headliners for much of the past two seasons have been Dezerea Bryant and Kendra Harrison.

Bryant is the defending 60-Meter Champion and 200m Silver Medalist. Harrison won the 60m hurdles last season, before doing the SEC 100 and 400m hurdles double outdoors at home. Both Bryant and Harrison have competed sparingly this indoor season, so they will be expected to compete with fresh - if rusty - legs this weekend.

Keffri Neal, who ran his first official sub-4-minute mile two weeks ago, will defend his conference 800m title against one of the nation's best fields in that event at a conference championship.

Brad Szypka will look to defend his SEC Shot Put Title against reigning outdoor champion Stipe Zunic of Florida - who ranks No. 2 in the nation this year - and Gerogia's Nick Vena - who ranks sixth. Szypka is the No. 9 ranked shot putter in the NCAA this year.

Sha'Keela Saunders - who broke the school record and jumped to the No. 3 mark in the nation this season in her last appearance inside Nutter Field House - is considered one of the main contenders in long jump. That field features seven of the top-10 ranked long jumpers in the nation this year - including Kenyattia Hackworth.

Rebecca Famurewa is the eighth-ranked weight thrower in the nation, but the SEC field features the top-2 ranked throwers in the NCAA in Kearsten Peoples (Missouri) and Brea Garrett (Texas A&M).

Kentucky to wear Pink
For the second consecutive season Kentucky will sport pink at the SEC Championships. Last year the Wildcats donned pink warmups in a show of support for those affected by breast cancer.

This season, the Wildcats will sport pink jerseys in competition in a nod to February being National Cancer Prevention Month.

"We want to support those in our society that are affected by this terrible disease," Floréal said. "We're trying to take a leading role in our sport in showing that we're not just a bunch a people that make a lot of left turns around an oval all day. We care about what's going on in our world, and this is just one small step to raise awareness."

Throughout the year Kentucky athletes make visits to local hospitals and also engage in fundraising efforts for research and treatment.

Other events to watch
All eyes across the country will be on Nutter Field House. With so many highly-ranked teams and athletes there's good reason why.

Outside media entities Flotrack andUSTFCCCA.org have broken down some of the must-watch competitions happening this weekend.

Last Year at SECs
At the 2014 SEC Indoor Championships, the Kentucky women finished fourth with 72 points, and the men were fifth with 69.33.

Kentucky's men's and women's teams both placed in the top-5 at the same SEC Championships for the first time since 1988. Additionally, the UK women's team earned its best points total since 2008, when it scored 84.5, and UK earned its highest team placement since finishing fourth in 1989.

The men's team earned its best finish since placing third in 1996 with 85 points.