Wildcats Set for Regular Season Finale
April 28, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky track and field team will split up this weekend, sending sprints, jumps and vaults to the Drake Relays, while the distance corps heads west to the Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., and a combination of athletes headed to the Stan Lyons Invitational, capping off a successful regular season for the Wildcats.
This weekend’s competition marks the last for the Wildcats during the regular season, as they have a week off before the Southeastern Conference Championships, which begin on May 12.
The 102nd Drake Relays will take place inside the recently renovated Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, with a capacity of 14,557. Kentucky will be competing in the event for the first time since 2008 after competing at the Penn Relays the last two seasons during this weekend. The Drake Relays will be a tune up for many athletes that plan on competing in the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held at Drake Stadium, beginning June 8.
For the Wildcats, two athletes in particular will use this weekend in Des Moines as preparation for nationals, juniors Keith Hayes and Precious Nwokey. Hayes was UK’s top finisher at the NCAA indoor championships, with a seventh-place finish in the 60m hurdles and looks to equate that success to the 110m hurdles at outdoors.
“Keith is finally starting to get his rhythm back and I think this will be a great meet for him,” assistant coach of men’s sprints Erin Tucker said. “It will be great preparation heading in the SEC meet and the NCAA meet in June.”
On the women’s side, Nwokey, the school record holder and NCAA indoor participant in the pentathlon, will not compete in the heptathlon but will compete as an individual in the 100m hurdles and long jump competition.
Senior Keenan Hall will also be making the trip to Drake and is coming off an impressive performance at the Sea Ray Relays, where he was awarded the Tony Wilson Memorial Trophy for being the most outstanding male field athlete during the meet. The senior won the men’s triple jump with a personal-best mark of 15.56m/51-00.75 and a second-place finish in the long jump at 7.46m/24-05.75. Both marks landed him third on UK’s all-time list in each event.
Head Coach Don Weber takes a strong group of distance runners to Palo Alto, Calif., for the Payton Jordan Invitational, led by All-American Sharif Webb. The senior from Paramus, N.J., will run in the first section of the 800m run against several professional and unattached athletes, making him the only collegiate in the opening heat. Webb shattered the Kentucky school record and Florida Relays meet record in the 800m run earlier in the year with a time of 1:47.19. Webb has the sixth-fastest time in the 800m run by an American this year and his time ranks 20th in the world.
The Payton Jordan Invitational this Sunday May 1, at Cobb Track and Angell Field is a one-day event that will begin at noon with field events and continue with running events at 3:45 p.m. The distance carnival, which UK will be participating in, will be the highlight of the meet.
Besides Webb, the distance group is very young with only two upper classman making the trip in contrast to six freshman and sophomores.
Both the Drake Relays and Payton Jordan Invitational can be seen live on Flotrack.com.
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