Jan. 14, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky track and field team will see its first action of the 2011 indoor season when it plays host to the annual Kentucky Invitational on Friday and Saturday at the E.J. Nutter Field House.
Competition begins with a selection of field events Friday at 6 p.m. ET and continues Saturday at 10:30 a.m. ET. The two-day event is free to the public and live stats will be available at UKathletics.com. This will be the first of two home meets this season for the Wildcats with the Rod McCravy Memorial Meet taking place January 28-29.
Participating teams at the event include: Alabama, Central Florida (women only), Eastern Kentucky, Florida A&M, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Kentucky State, Louisville, Marshall (women only), Michigan State, Middle Tennessee, Vanderbilt (women only), Western Carolina (women only) and Western Kentucky.
The Wildcats head into the 2011 season with a promising group of underclassmen along with proven veterans spread throughout all events. This year, however, they will be without one of the greatest sprinters in school history, departed senior Rondel Sorrillo. As the school’s only NCAA Champion in the 200-meter dash and a nine-time All-America recipient, Sorrillo leaves a gap that will have to be filled by a variety of up-and-coming UK student-athletes, led by returning All-Americans Colin Boevers (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Sharif Webb (Paramus, N.J.).
Boevers, the reigning Southeastern Conference discus champion, leads a small but established group of three throwers, Mary Angell (Byron Center, Mich.), Jennifer Svoboda (Howells, Neb.) and Heather Smith (Powell, Ohio) – who have all scored at either the indoor or outdoor conference meet. Angell ranks in the top five on three of UK’s all-time lists including the indoor shot put, outdoor shot put and discus. Svoboda also ranks high on UK’s all-time lists coming in at fourth in both the indoor and outdoor shot put. The third leg of the throwing trio is Heather Smith in the weight throw who returns after redshirting last season. Smith will fill the void left by Kristin Smith who earned the SEC Indoor Championship in the weight throw last season and went on to earn her first All-America award.
The Wildcat throwers will also be without a mainstay in the ring for the past four years, Ashley Muffet. The four-time All-America honoree, two-time SEC Commissioner Cup award winner and SEC Co-Field Athlete of the Year is arguably one of the most decorated throwers in UK history. Isiah Kent (Galion, Ohio), a freshman, is the lone underclassman for the throws group. Kent comes to Lexington after a very successful high school career that included two individual state titles his senior year in the shot put and discus throw. The rookie also is a four-time world champion and a five- time national champion in archery, the last coming in 2008.
Webb, a South Plains College transfer a year ago, enters 2011 with one solid season behind him at Kentucky. Webb posted UK’s second-best mark in the 800-meter run at 1:47.64 during the 2010 indoor season, on his way to earning indoor All-America honors. In addition to Webb, senior Josh Nadzam (Monaca, Pa.) made a push in the 800m run during the outdoor season qualifying for the NCAA East Regional.
Moving further, the distance team returns a talented group of sophomores led by Cally Macumber. A native of Rochester Hills, Mich., Macumber earned All-SEC honors in cross country, indoor and outdoor track a season ago. Chelsea Oswald and Luis Orta also look to be strong contributors during the year, helping lead a very young distance squad that is more than 75 percent underclassmen.
The women’s sprints group has gathered more speed under the direction of first year assistant coach Althea Thomas. A former LSU sprinter, Thomas knows all about the SEC and winning, and has inherited a UK school-record holding 4x400m relay (3:35.14) squad that didn’t lose anyone off of last year’s NCAA Championship qualifying team. An intense competition will take place throughout the year for those four spots by a talented corps of female sprinters.
Heading the group is former All-America honoree Jenna Martin (Nova Scotia, Canada) who enters her final year at Kentucky as the only female to crack the 52.00 mark in the 400m dash in school history. Seniors Jazmyn Shorter (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Brittany Cabbler (Roanoke, Va.) look to make a push off their run to Eugene a season ago and keep a senior laden 4x4. Freshman Julie Nunn (Jupiter, Fla.) and sophomore Shiara Robinson (Pinkertington, Ohio), an alternate at the NCAA Championships last year, add depth to an already solid group.
Junior Precious Nwokey, the only female All-American returning, contributed in a variety of events last season. Nwokey earned her All-America honor in the pentathlon and owns the school’s second-best score in the event. The native of Houston, Texas competed at the NCAA Championships last season, finishing 13th overall in the heptathlon with 5,337, just shy of her school-record mark of 5,543 set in Knoxville, Tenn., at the SEC Championships. Nwokey was also the anchor leg of the women’s 4x400m relay team most of last season.
The jumping and vaults group is coming off a record-setting season in 2010 and returns all of its main contributors. Senior David Banks (Rosenberg, Texas) topped the Cat’s all-time triple jump list with a mark of 51-05.50, moving past the NCAA regional to nationals where he finished 17th, seven places better than his seed coming into the championships. On the women’s side, senior Ke’Undra Bishop (Houston, Texas) and transfer Terri-Ann Grant (Kingston, Jamaica) create a female duo that will compete at the highest level of the SEC. Bishop scored three points at last season’s SEC Indoor Championships for a sixth-place finish in the triple jump, the third-longest mark in UK history.
Sprints coach Erin Tucker leads a men’s sprints team that has seen the most turnover since last season, losing Sorrillo, Kwasi Obeng, Alex Williams and Sean Lange, who were all a part of the NCAA finalist 4x100m relay squad last season. The team consists of eight men with the only upperclassman being a first-year transfer from Kansas, Keith Hayes (Wichita, Kan.). Sophomore Darryl Bradshaw (Brooklyn, N.Y.) saw action as the team’s only hurdler last season but will be aided by the more experienced Hayes. Cody Miller (Creston, Ohio) and Ben Mason (Lexington, Ky.) are the other two returning sprinters and will be joined by four incoming freshmen.