By Jacob Most
Feb. 15, 2014 -
Tyson Invitational Results | Hoosier Hills Invitational Results | ISU Classic Results
AMES, Iowa and FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., and BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Allison Peare broke a 25-year-old school record on Saturday at the Iowa State Classic. Not to be outdone, Matt Hillenbrand broke four minutes in the mile for the first time in his career; just moments after Peare posted her scintillating time.
Hillenbrand’s time of 3:57.0 also broke the school record, a mark that had only lasted for 24 years. Additionally, Hillenbrand became just the third Wildcat ever to break the four-minute barrier, besting Bob Whelan’s UK-record time of 3:58.77, which he clocked to win the 1990 NCAA Championship.
Peare finished the ISU classic mile as the top collegian, and fourth overall, only behind three elite-level professionals. Peare stopped the clock at 4.35.80, breaking 1989 Southeastern Conference Mile Champion Lisa Breiding’s school record (4:38.37 in 1989) by more than two seconds.
Hillenbrand’s time ranks No. 3 in the nation, and leads the SEC. He is the defending conference mile champion. Peare’s performance is the fourth-fastest in the country this season and ranks No. 2 in the SEC.
Indeed, Saturday’s action wrapped up an important – and successful – weekend for the Kentucky track and field teams, as the Wildcats are now likely to turn their attention to the upcoming Southeastern Conference Championships, which will take place at Texas A&M Feb. 27-March 1.
“We were able to take advantage of there being multiple highly-competitive meets around the country this weekend,” head coach Edrick Floréal said. “In many cases we rose to the occasion of such high competition by producing numerous school records and both SEC and NCAA-leading marks.”
The meets two weekends before all the conferences hold their championship meets traditionally witness the highest concentration marks, which ultimately qualify for the NCAA Championships, of any time all season.
As described by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), this weekend “has historically been an opportunity for teams around the country to flock to big-time invitationals in hopes of top-notch competition pushing their student-athletes to the forefront of the national descending order lists for their respective events before the heavy load of conference championships.”
In such hopes, the Wildcats top distance and middle distance runners traveled to compete on the oversized track at ISU, while the top UK sprinters, hurdlers, horizontal jumpers and throwers joined the nation’s elite in the same disciplines at Arkansas’ Tyson Invitational. The largest and most competitively diverse group of Wildcats traveled to the Indiana Hoosier Hills Invitational.
For UK in 2014, this weekend’s meets lived up to their preconceptions as Hillenbrand and Peare weren’t the only Wildcats to raise their level.
On Saturday, no Wildcat performed better at Arkansas than Bradley Szypka, who won the Tyson Invitational shot put championship with a Southeastern Conference-leading mark, 19.48 meters/63-feet-11-inches. The throw was a personal best for the junior, moving him past current volunteer assistant coach Rashaud Scott for fourth on the all-time UK performers’ list.
Szypka’s head-turning mark came a day after Dezerea Bryant performed at a level that was even more impressive. In a 60m dash victory, Bryant lowered her school-record and nation-leading best to 7.16 seconds, a performance that tied the seventh-fastest time in NCAA history.
“Both of our teams are starting to shape up as we head into the championship portion of the season,” Floréal said. “Dezerea Bryant continued her sensational season, and Matt, Ally and Brad are rounding into shape at the right time of the year.”
The teams’ monumental progress could be measured by the fact that the notable performances by Bryant, Hillenbrand, Peare and Szypka, heavily overshadowed other impressive showings.
The women’s 4x400m relay for example finished third at the Tyson Invitational with a time of 3:34.31, which was the second fastest performance in UK history.
Keffri Neal placed fourth in the ISU Classic 800m with a PR time 1:49.05, climbing to No. 7 on the UK all-time performers' list.
At Hoosier Hills, Chelsea Oswald won the invitational 3k with a time of 9:37.36, while Hiruni Wijayaratne: placed fifth (10:08.85). Adam Kahleifeh placed 17th in the ISU Classic 3k, with a time of 8:23.82.