By Jacob Most
Feb. 8, 2014 -
BLACKSBURG, Va. – Dezerea Bryant threw down a gauntlet in the form of the fastest 200-meter performance by any woman in the world so far this season on Saturday. Bryant’s time of 22.82 capped a two-day competition in which she won two events (60m on Friday), and was named “Most Outstanding Performer” of the Doc Hale VT Elite Meet.
Bryant’s time of 22.82 was significant on multiple levels as the performance smashed her previous school-record of 23.04 set a new personal best for the two-time indoor 200m All-American (nine times in all events) and is just 0.14 seconds outside the all-time collegiate top-10 in the event. The performance makes Bryant the 15th fastest American collegian of all-time at 200m. 1
Each of the ten fastest indoor collegiate 200m performances of all-time came at Arkansas’ Randall Tyson Indoor Track, making the fact that Bryant’s performance came at Virginia Tech’s Rector Field House, where the 200m indoor track has less steep banked turns than Arkansas all the more impressive.
“Her goals are centered around being a professional athlete,” head coach Edrick Floréal said. “If you’re going to do that you’re going to need to produce professional athletes’ times week-in, week-out. That’s kind of what she has to learn to do.
“You’re a performer, you have to put on a show. The superstars, when they compete the whole world knows about it. You can’t compete and sort of go unnoticed. The 200m showed us that she’s on that level now. That she can compete and serve notice to get herself in position where people at “The Bowerman” and people like that are making an evaluation of how good an athlete is where they have to step up and say ‘oh my goodness this is a lot better than what everyone else is doing. ‘ “
Indeed Floréal pulled Bryant aside before the day started to discuss the team’s increased expectations and the need to focus.
“I had to talk to Coach Floréal before the day started because my 60m didn’t go as I planned yesterday even though I won,” Bryant said. “I ran fast in the 200m so I was happy with the meet overall. Coach Flo’s talk helped me relax because I was really tense after my race yesterday, but after we talked I was relaxed.”
Kendra Harrison was second to Bryant in her first collegiate 200m with a time of 23.47, which makes her the third fastest indoor 200m performer in school history. Morganne Phillips was sixth with a time of 24.25, just two hundredths off her indoor best. Harrison, one of the nation’s elite hurdlers, won the 60-meter hurdles and was second in the 60m.
UK competitors and relay teams won three events on Saturday and six total over the course of the meet.
“I think Morganne (Phillips) stepped up from what she did yesterday, but I think stepping up is relative, because she’s performing pretty competitively, but what we’re trying to get accomplished in this conference is significantly different from what somebody else might think is acceptable,” Floreal said. “I think she stepped up and did better, I think Sha’Keela (Saunders) stepped up and did better. Then Keni (Harrison) running 23.47 (in the 200m) is probably a PR by like two seconds and she barely even gets a mention.
“Those are things that tell us the team is heading in the right direction. It has do be a higher standard to give the kids accolades, that means the team is getting better. I think Madison Jacobs made a huge step up, six-feet better than what she’s been doing this season. They want to get on the road, they want to get to the big meets and all that stuff is raising the bar a little bit higher.”
Chelsea Oswald won the 5,000 meters with the Southeastern Conference’s third best time this year, 16:57.92, as the 2013 SEC Outdoor 5k Champion had to run much of the race far ahead of the nearest competitor after teammate Hiruni Wijayaratne paced her in the early part of the race.
The women’s 4x400m relay team of Angelica Whaley, Morganne Phillips, Leah Nugent and Sha’Keela Saunders ended the meet for UK on a high by winning the women's invitational 4x400m relay with a time of 3:40.46, which ranks 29th nationally. Saunders finished the meet having won two events as she won the “open” 200m competition on Friday in addition to anchoring the relay.
UK’s school-record mile relay time of 3:33.35, which was recorded two weeks ago at the Rod McCravy Memorial Meet by Phillips, Bryant, Whaley and Harrison, is the fourth fastest in the country this season.
Charles Moushey raised his personal best pole vault clearance by a half-of-an-inch to 5.08m/16’8”, and he is now just three quarters of an inch away from Sheldon Riffle’s Kentucky indoor freshman record. He placed ninth in a field, which included three professionals.
Madison Jacobs made a breakout performance in the shot put with a more than a 2.5-foot PR throw: 15.18m/49'9.75", a mark which ranks 50th nationally and is the leader among SEC freshman. She won the first flight and finished second overall. Beckie Famurewa placed eighth with a top mark of 14.38m /47’02.25”.
The Doc Hale VT Elite Meet was UK’s first true road competition of 2014, serving as chance for the team to get acclimated to traveling for meets.
“This meet was similar to the Kentucky Invitational for us, we were looking for a meet to kind of get ourselves back on the road before a big away-meet next week, the Arkansas Tyson Invitational just like the first home meet was to get ready for the McCravy,” Floréal said. “This meet was to get used to running on a banked track, a smaller, tighter track before we get to the big dance at Tyson. It served its purpose. The teams were very competitive and they gave us the test we wanted. We’re going to rest up to get our legs recovered so we can get to Tyson and get some big things done.
“I think there were some jitters and some excitement. Some of the freshmen really were excited about getting on the road. It’s different when you’re no longer at home. You see your friends, people that went to different schools so it added a whole different element of excitement for them, and that’s kind of what we’re looking for. You just don’t want them to get to Tyson and kind of lose track, lose focus so this was kind of a first step before we get to the big one at Tyson.”
Justin Kretchmer finished second in the high jump with a top clearance that tied his season-best at 2.14m/7'0.25". Ryan Ratliff placed fifth with his indoor best clearance 2.03m/6'8".
Kadeem Kushimo won his heat, and placed sixth overall in the 200m invitational, running 21.73 in his first indoor race at the distance.
Saunders also continued her strong weekend with a triple jump collegiate personal-best 12.07m/39'7.25", to place fourth.
Michelle Canterna placed seventh in the pole vault with a top clearance of 3.86m/12'8", two centimeters shy of her indoor best as she was unable to get over the bar at 4.01m.
Bradley Szypka placed second in the shot put with a final throw of 18.75m/61’6.25”, while Andrew Evans’ second throw, which traveled 17.89m/58’8.5” – a two-and-a-half-foot personal best – was good for seventh place. Isiah Kent placed 11th and Nathan Donnellon was 13th.
Joanne Imbert cleared 1.65m/5'5" to finish 12th in the high jump, she will also competed in her first collegiate 400m.
1 - Based on Track & Field News' All-Time List via Kyle Terwillegar, USTFCCCA