Feb. 23, 2012
After a strong indoor campaign that saw 16 program top-10 times/marks fall, the University of Kentucky men's and women's track and field teams now have their sights set on the 2012 Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships. The 2012 conference championships, featuring many of the top track and field athletes in the country, are being held at the E.J. Nutter Field House from Friday-Sunday for the sixth time in program history.
"We're excited about this meet," UK head coach Don Weber said. "We've been working hard all season and we're excited to see what we can do out there. The SEC has been the best track and field conference in the nation for years and years and this year is no different."
The Wildcats have been led by a number of different athletes this season, including a slew of freshmen who have shown their potential. Freshman Keilah Tyson, who earned SEC Women's Freshman of the Week honors during week three of the regular season, holds two UK freshman records in the 60-meter dash and 200m dash. In addition to her freshman records, Tyson also holds the second fastest 200m dash in school history, the third fastest 60m dash and the seventh best mark in the long jump. Tyson leads all SEC freshmen in the 60m, 200m and long jump.
Another freshman, Terence Boyd, has recorded the seventh best long jump in program history, and the eighth best triple jump. In the SEC, Boyd's long jump is the fourth best mark among freshmen, and his triple jump is the second best freshman mark this season.
"We're very encouraged by the freshmen performances that we've seen this year," Weber said. "I think the freshmen are pretty excited."
Senior Luis Orta and junior Walter Luttrell have led the Wildcats in distance running in 2012. Orta enters the SEC championships with the top time in the conference in the 3,000m and 5,000m runs. Orta's times of 8:08.09 and 14:02.45 rank eighth and fourth, respectively, in the 3K and 5K in the UK record books. Luttrell has had a very impressive season as well, ranking third in the SEC in the 3K and second in the 5K. Luttrell also holds the 10th fastest time in UK history in the 3K and the sixth fastest time in the 5K.
"I think Luis and Walter feel good about the progress they've made and they feel eager and excited to race again," Weber said. "It's been a good year, they've improved weekly and typically when that happens to you your excitement, enthusiasm and confidence grow as well."
When asked about the meet, Orta said the goal is to win, but competing to your utmost ability is of equal importance.
"The expectations are always to have a good race, and from there see what happens," Orta said. "Victory is always something that we want, but as Coach Weber says, `What matters in sports is not victory, but the magnificence of the struggle.' I think this is very important. If we work hard and do what we're supposed to do in the race then victory can come."
It is the sixth time in Kentucky track and field history that the Nutter Field House has hosted the conference championship meet. The Nutter Field House also hosted the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships in 1996, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2009.
For Kentucky, hosting the championship meet is an advantage because the student-athletes are able to compete in a familiar venue. As Coach Weber said, it also gives Kentucky an opportunity to show off its facilities and show off the university.
"We enjoy hosting this meet," UK head coach Don Weber said. "It certainly brings attention to our program, the University of Kentucky and our facility. It's great for our facility, really, because people in the SEC will run fast here and then people will see our track is a fast place to run and they'll want to come here for our regular season meets. The upside in terms of attention and recognition is great with this event."
The meet will begin Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET with the men's heptathlon and the women's pentathlon. Saturday's competition will begin at 11 a.m. with the men's weight throw and men's high jump. Saturday's competition will finish with the men's and women's 3,000m runs. The championships will conclude Sunday with the finals of many of the events. Sunday's competition will start at 11 a.m. with the women's weight throw, women's high jump, women's triple jump and men's pole vault. The final event of the championships will be the men's and women's 4x400-meter relay.
"I'm really just excited about the competition that we will see," Weber said. "There's going to be a lot of really talented, capable athletes, and doing well in this meet is very important to them. Just to watch the degree to which they'll compete and battle and struggle to be successful will be exciting. You'll see some people do some pretty incredible things out there."
For all news and information on the Kentucky track and field teams and the 2012 SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships, follow the Wildcats on Twitter at "KentuckyTrack" and go to UKathletics.com and visit the "2012 SEC Indoors Central" page at the track and field home page.