Saunders Named Southeast Region Field Athlete of the Year

March 7, 2015 -

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sha'Keela Saunders of the fourth-ranked Kentucky track and field team was named Southeast Region Field Athlete of the Yearby the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association this weekend.

Saunders won the Southeastern Conference Long Jump Gold Medal last week, going 1-2 with teammate Kenyattia Hackworth.

The Suffolk, Virginia, native has just one loss in the long jump this year, coming to the current collegiate leader at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 14. She defeated the defending NCAA Outdoor Long Jump Champion at Kentucky's prestigious Rod McCravy Memorial in January.

She has posted jumps over 21 feet in her last three competitions including a 21'6"/6.55-meter school-record jump to win the SEC Title.

Saunders came back the next day to finish fourth in an elite triple jump competition with a 42'11"/13.08m which is just below her personal best of 42'11¾"/13.10m that currently ranks ninth nationally.

The sophomore will enter next week's NCAA Long Jump Championship ranked Nos. 2 in the nation and the triple jump ranked ninth.

She is one of three Wildcats that qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in more than one individual event.

Saunders is the reigning NCAA Outdoor Long Jump Silver Medalist.

Kentucky has had a Southeast Region Athlete of the Year each of the past three track seasons. In 2014 Dezerea Bryant and Matt Hillenbrand were indoor women's and men's track athletes of the year. Kendra Harrison was 2014 outdoor track athlete of the year and Andrew Evans was 2014 outdoor field athlete of the year. Cally Macumber was 2012 Southeast Region cross country athlete of the year.