By Jacob Most
Feb. 27, 2014 -
COLLEGE STATION, Texas. – Kentucky’s heptathletes began the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships in strong fashion on Thursday, as Ibn Short sits second and Nathan Donnellon is in eighth with four of seven events in the books at Texas A&M’s Gilliam Indoor Stadium.
Short set a new personal best mark in the 60 meters, long jump and shot put. In the high jump, which is his best event, he tied for the highest clearance amongst the heptathletes, 2.08m/6’ 9.75”, which while not a personal best was his highest as a collegian.
With three events remaining, Short is second overall with 3130 points, Nathan Donnellon is eighth with 2684.
In the first event of the year, the 60-meter dash, Short won his heat, and finished second overall with a collegiate-best time 7.18, and Donnellon placed 10th also with season best time 7.36.
In the long jump short went 6.92m/22'8.5" and Nathan Donnellon went 6.3m/20'8". In the shot put, both threw season-bests, 12.62m/41'5" by Donnellon and 12.62m/20'8 by Short.
Friday’s events will be the 60m hurdles, pole vault and 1,000m.
Joanne Imbert competed in the pentathlon, running a season best time in the 60m hurdles, and placing third in the high jump, but went out of the competition during the long jump.
Kentucky entered the nation’s most competitive conference championships with the nation’s sixth-ranked women’s team, four individual-event conference leaders, the defending men’s SEC Mile Champion and multiple returning SEC scorers from last season.
The meet begin at 2 p.m. ET on Friday and Saturday. Flashresults.com will provide live results, and full meet information is available via the SEC.
The SEC Indoor Championships will air as part of a 90-minute show on ESPNU on Monday, March 10, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. ESPN3 will stream the meet live during the following times: Friday, February 28 (2:55 p.m. ET – 7:35 p.m. ET) and Saturday, March 1 (1:50 p.m. ET – 6:30 p.m. ET). The broadcast talent includes Dwight Stones (play-by-play), Larry Rawson (analyst) and Lewis Johnson (sideline reporter).
Sixth-ranked Kentucky is one of a nation-leading eight SEC women’s teams that are ranked, including five teams in the top-seven. Florida is the SEC’s top-rated team at No. 2, while Texas A&M is No. 3 and Arkansas is No. 4. Kentucky (No. 6) and Georgia (No. 7) round out the top-10. LSU checks in at No. 14, while Mississippi State is No. 23 and Missouri is No. 25.
The SEC boasts a nation-leading seven ranked men’s teams, including each of the top-three teams nationally. Arkansas is the nation’s No. 1 team, followed by No. 2 Florida and No. 3 Texas A&M. Alabama is ranked No. 12 and LSU is No. 15. Ole Miss (No. 20) and Georgia (No. 24) also are ranked (via Sean Cartell, SEC).
Kentucky’s SEC Championships Breakdown
Kentucky brings four competitors to the SEC Championships, who currently lead the conference in their respective events (Dezerea Bryant, Kendra Harrison, Matt Hillenbrand and Bradley Szypka).
Including the four league-leaders, 21 Wildcats rank inside the conference’s top-8 descending order performance lists, meaning Kentucky will have plenty of points up for grabs this weekend.
Headlining for UK will be Dezerea Bryant, who owns the nation’s fastest nation’s 60-meter dash time and the second-best 200m performance at all levels in the world (22.82) this season. Bryant, a junior transfer, has enjoyed a superb debut season at UK having been named SEC Runner of the Week twice, National Athlete of the Week by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) in February, and broken school records in three events (60m, 200m and 4x400m relay).
Bryant could potentially face off with the only woman to run a faster indoor 200m race this season, as Texas A&M’ Kamaria Brown posted a time of 22.80 at Gilliam Indoor two weeks ago.
Kendra Harrison also looks set for a top-class showdown in the 60m hurdles.
The junior transfer – like Bryant – has been tremendous since arriving in Lexington, as she is the nation’s top hurdler this season. She will likely face off with LSU senior – and three-time defending SEC 60H Champion – Jasmine Stowers, who’s top 2014 time (8.01) ranks second in the conference to Harrison’s 7.96.
Stowers did edge Harrison by a 0.1 seconds two weeks ago in the Tyson Invitational Final making their potential faceoff all the more intriguing, in addition to the fact that it will serve as a high-stakes primer for the NCAA Championships in two weeks.
Matt Hillenbrand leads the conference in the mile this season, an event which he won last year. Hillenbrand broke the school record in the event two weeks ago as he became just the third Wildcat to ever break four minutes (3:57.0).
Bradley Szypka is also enjoying a great season – and like Hillenbrand peaking at the right time – as he threw his shot put personal best (19.48 meters/63-feet-11-inches) at his last competition, a mark which leads the SEC. Szypka placed fourth in the event last season.
UK Contenders Breakdown
The list of other Wildcats whose recent performances indicate they’re in position to contend for a SEC Titles is topped by Allison Peare.
Peare, like Hillenbrand, broke the UK mile record two weeks ago at the Iowa State Classic. Her mile PR 4:35.80, ranks No. 2 in the conference, and she also has the fifth-fastest 800m time in the conference all year.
Harrison is not the only elite SEC hurdler in the field either as Kayla Parker has run the league’s sixth-fastest 60H time, and Leah Nugent ranks No. 7 in the SEC.
Kentucky’s 4x400m relay ranks No. 3 in the conference, as the Wildcats will have a strong pool of quarter-milers to pick from to race in the nation’s most competitive conference mile-relay.
Harrison ranks fourth in the conference at 60m this season.
Last season the UK women’s team finished seventh with 34 points, and the men were 10th with 30 points.