By Jacob Most
Jan. 18, 2014 -
Photo Gallery | Results
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Dezerea Bryant’s heavily-anticipated UK debut did not disappoint as she shattered school-records in both the 60 and 200 meters during Saturday’s Kentucky Invitational.
Taking the Nutter Field House track for the first time, Bryant smashed former Olympic Bronze Medalist Passion Richardson’s 18-year-old 60m record (7.34 seconds) with a nation-leading and personal-best tying time of 7.19. Bryant began the day by running 7.21 in the preliminary heat.
Bryant upped the excitement less than two hours later by once again smashing a school-record and posting the nation’s No. 2 performance, this time crossing the 200-meter finish line in 23.04.
Bryant’s time bettered the previous UK record, which had been held by Michelle Brown since 1997.
“I think Dez is clearly the performer of the day,” head coach Edrick Floréal said. ”Shattering two school records and posting two national leaders is special. A close second is Keni (Harrison) coming out there in her very first race, breaking school records and being No. 1 in the nation.
“When you think about the whole country right now, we have two girls who have the best performance in the country. That’s pretty unique for the direction we’re heading in.”
Indeed Bryant was not the only Wildcat to rewrite the school’s record book on Saturday. Fellow transfer Kendra Harrison posted the nation’s fastest 60-meter hurdles time (8.19) in the preliminary heats, breaking teammate Kayla Parker’s school record, 8.24, a mark which stood for barely more than one month.
Harrison also won the 400m with a time of 54.49, which ranks No. 8 nationally.
“I think we’re getting better,” Floréal said. “I think the ultimate goal is always to get better. I still feel like we left a lot on the table. That’s always the difficulty, how do you evaluate how much better you could have gotten?
“I just think we have a much better team than even what people could see today. We have a lot of pieces that still need to fall into place. We’re going to handle that this week as we get ready for next week’s McCravy Memorial Meet.”
In all, Kentucky won eight of 30 events, five for the sixth-ranked women’s team and three on the men’s side.
Keffri Neal continued a hot start to the season, winning his second race from two starts with a mile personal-best time of 4:04.04. He also won the Hoosier Open 1,000m on Dec. 14, 2013.
Bradley Szypka also sustained his strong early-season form by winning the shot put with a top mark of 18.78m/61' 7.5" for his second victory in as many meets this campaign.
UK finished the meet having won three of the four relays on the program as the Wildcat women’s team was able to showcase its tremendous 4x400m relay depth. UK won both the men’s and women’s distance medleys on Friday.
On Saturday, UK fielded two relay squads, which went 1-2.
The lineup of Alisha Adair, Sha’Keela Saunders, Morganne Phillips and Harrison won in 3:42.68. Johna’ Whitaker, Leah Nugent, Bryant and Angelica Whaley posted a time of 3:44.51.
Hiruni Wijayaratne and Charles Moushey both posted runner-up finishes.
Wijayaratne ran a mile time of 5:03.25. Moushey cleared a personal-best pole vault height of 5m/16”4.75” in an impressive freshman home debut.
The Kentucky Invitational served as just a tasty appetizer to the indoor track and field action in store for Lexington. UK will host the Rod McCravy Memorial Meet next weekend.
Of the 15 teams scheduled to compete, seven are ranked inside the national top-25 (both men’s and women’s) including No. 3 Oregon men, No. 4 Oregon women, No. 2 Florida men, No. 3 Florida women, No. 7 Arkansas women and No. 24 Alabama women in addition to the No. 6 UK women’s team.
Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio State, Baylor, Miami (FL) and Illinois are other marquee names scheduled to traveled to Lexington, Ky.
The McCravy will take place Jan. 24-25.