By Jacob Most
May 14, 2014 -
Championships Central | Heat Sheets | Live Video (Thurs. & Friday Only)
|Tickets: UKathletics.com/tickets||All-Session||Single Session|
|General Admission Adult (19-64)
|General Admission Youth (3-18)
|General Admission Senior (65+)
|Youth 2 and under
LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the first time in 18 years, the University of Kentucky will host the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which will be held from Thursday, May 15 through Sunday, May 18 at the UK Track and Field Complex.
UK has hosted multiple Indoor SEC Championships since 1996, but never have the Wildcats entered the conference meet with such competitive teams.
The UK women’s team enters the meet ranked sixth nationally, while the Wildcat men are ranked No. 19 in the latest rankings released by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
“I think a long time ago, two years ago, might sound like a long time but we took on this project to make ourselves relevant, that’s the word we use,” head coach Edrick Floréal said. “I think we’re moving in the right direction with the bodies we have and the performance, having the fastest woman in the world on the team is not a bad deal at all. Having that and leading the nation in multiple events. I guess for me the cool thing is we’re good a little bit all over. I want to have a complete team. We have a discus thrower leading the country, we got a javelin thrower that’s second in the country, we got the fastest woman in the world, we’ve got a couple of hurdlers leading the country.
“When you host an event like this it’s cooler to have a competitive team. There’s nothing worse than hosting it, but not being competitive. It sort of exposes you to, ‘Oh, we’re not very good.’ But the fact that we’re pretty good and we’re a contender and having it at home, it makes it even more special. That’s really what I’m excited about, that the fans are going to get a chance to see some quality kids compete against the toughest conference in the country.”
UK will be led on the women’s side by Dezerea Bryant, who currently owns the title of “Fastest Woman in the World” having run the best all-conditions time on Earth this year, 10.96w (+4.0), two weeks ago at the Longhorn Invitational.
On the men’s side, UK’s flag-bearer is Andrew Evans, who leads all Americans and the NCAA in the discus this season having broken 2008 NCAA Champion Rashaud Scott’s school record with a throw of 66.37m/217-9 two weeks ago at the Tennessee Challenge.
Multiple Wildcats who lead or rank near the top of the SEC this season will put their talents on display this weekend.
Matt Hillenbrand, a three-time SEC Champion, will complete his outdoor conference career as the SEC-leader in the 5k (13:49.24) and the 1,500m (3:41.92).
Kendra Harrison, the SEC Indoor 60m hurdles champion, leads the conference in the 100m hurdles (12.68w) and ranks second in the 400m hurdles (56.60) having competed in each event just once this year.
Raymond Dykstra ranks No. 2 in the nation in the javelin, and he could square off with the NCAA-leader in Tennessee’s Kyle Quinn. Similarly the SEC Men’s Discus will feature three of the top five throwers in the NCAA this year, including Evans – who won the event in 2012.
The Wildcats’ women’s relays could also compete for SEC titles as each ranks third in the league this year (both in school record times)
The SEC is widely regarded as the top track and field conference in the nation. The weekend’s meet will feature three 2012 Olympians, 12 competitors from the 2013 IAAF World Championships and countless other contenders to make the Rio Games in 2016.
SEC men’s teams have won 20 men’s NCAA team titles all-time, including 17 national championships since 1989, 205 NCAA individual and relay titles (eight in 2013) and own six NCAA Championship records.
The men’s competition will feature the co-defending national champions in top-ranked Florida and second-ranked Texas A&M. Arkansas is ranked fourth nationally and is the three-time defending SEC Champion.
SEC Women’s teams have earned 16 NCAA Outdoor team titles since 1987,137 NCAA individual and relay titles (five in 2013) and five NCAA Championship records. SEC athletes earned 59 First-Team All-America honors in 2013.
Fourth-ranked Texas A&M won the conference last season, but Florida enters the championships ranked No. 1 nationally (based on projected NCAA Championship performance).
Spectator parking will be available in the No. 7 parking structure on Sports Center Drive across the street from the Nutter Football Training Center. Fans must show their ticket from the garage at the stadium gate to receive free exit from the garage on Thursday and Friday. Handicap parking will be located in the northeast corner of the R-3 lot . Please note that Cooperstown Road will be closed to traffic due to construction.
The SEC Outdoor Championships begin at Noon ET Thursday and continue at Noon ET Friday, 1 p.m. ET Saturday and 11 a.m. ET Sunday.
Tickets can be purchased from the UK ticket office at the gate, or by calling (859) 257-1818 or on www.UKAthletics.com. All session passes are $20 for adults, $10 for youth (ages 3-18) and $10 for seniors (ages 65 and older). Youth 2 and under are admitted free. Single-session passes are $10 for adults and $5 for youth and seniors.
Live coverage of the meet will be broadcast on ESPN3.com on Saturday and Sunday. The coverage will air from 3:40 p.m. ET-6:50 p.m. ET on Saturday and 1:50 p.m. ET-5:50 p.m. ET on Sunday, including the trophy presentations. ESPNU will air the 2014 SEC Outdoor Championships as part of a two-hour show on ESPNU on Thursday, May 22 beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The broadcast talent includes Dwight Stones (play-by-play), Larry Rawson (analyst) and Lewis Johnson (reporter).
Live results for the 2014 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championship will be available at: http://branchsportstech.com/2014_Meets/outdoor/05-15-sec/index1.php.