Cats Begin NCAA Championship Competition Wednesday
Des Moines, Iowa Ė This weekend, sixteen University of Kentucky track and field athletes will compete in the 2008 NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships at the Drake Stadium Track on the campus of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa beginning Wednesday.
The four-day National Championship event kicks off Wednesday morning with the menís decathlon at 11 a.m. ET. The first Wildcats to compete will be senior Andy Fryman and junior Rashaud Scott in the menís discus qualifying at 2:30 p.m. ET.
All field events will have a day of qualifying followed later in the week by the event final. Short-distance running events will have first round heats followed by semifinal heats and finally the event final on the third or fourth day. Relays and distance events will conduct just a semifinal and final round over two days.
Kicking off competition for the Cats, Fryman and Scott each automatically qualified in the discus at the Mideast Regional. Both Wildcats earned second bids in addition to their automatic selections in the discus. Fryman qualified in the hammer throw while Scott received a nod in the shot put.
Scott comes into the discus this weekend after peaking at the right time in the Mideast Regional. His throw of 199-10 was a season best toss that beat the rest of the regional field in Fayetteville, Ark., over a week ago. Scottís throw ranks third all-time at UK. This is the first NCAA Outdoor Championship meet for Scott after competing in the NCAA Indoor Meet in March throwing the shot put.
Fryman enters the discus competition after placing third in the regional. The veteran has consistently thrown the circular weight within five feet of the 190-00 range since the beginning of the season. His throw of 192-1 at the Indiana Invitational earlier this season ranks fifth all-time in school history. This is the third Outdoor Championships for Fryman, as a sophomore and junior the Maysville, Ky., native competed in the shot put.
Junior Emilee Strot kicks off the womenís competition for the Cats in the discus qualifying round at 5:00 p.m. ET. The Oregon state high school record-holder in discus earned a nod as an at-large participant after placing seventh in regional competition with a throw of 167-10. In April, Strot threw a personal-best mark of 174-7 at the Indiana Invitational.
At the same time, Fryman starts qualifying for the menís hammer throw. The senior ranks second all-time in Kentucky history with a personal-best throw of 215-2. He is only the second Wildcat to throw over 200 feet in the event. In March, Fryman competed at the Indoor Championships in the menís weight throw.
For the first time since former Olympian Tim Harden anchored the Catsí menís relay teams as a senior in 1996, the menís 4x100m relay squad has returned to the National Championships with three juniors and a sophomore exchanging the baton. Sophomore Kwasi Obeng kicks off the one-lap event, handing off to junior Jose Acevedo. Classmate Brandon Austin will take the baton from Acevedo and hand-off to anchor Gordon McKenzie. The Catsí ran 39.72 at the Mideast Regional to place fourth just 0.03 seconds off the season-best mark of 39.69 set at the Texas Relays in April. The Cats race out of the blocks at 5:45 p.m. ET.
Fifteen minutes later in the womenís 800 meter run, senior Lavera Morris and junior Jessica Ortman will take the track after qualifying as part of the at-large field.
Morris has been an 800-meter specialist over her career at UK. She is competing in her second Outdoor Championship in the 800 meter run after advancing as a sophomore in 2006 when she was honored as an Outdoor All-American. Earlier this year, Morris placed eighth at the Indoor Championships to take home her first Indoor All-American honor. The veteranís best time this outdoor season was recorded at the SEC Outdoor Championships last month crossing the finish in 2:06.13.
Ortman placed sixth at the Mideast Regional just missing the automatic qualifying cut. The Williamsville, N.Y., nativeís personal-best time also came at the SEC Championships with a mark of 2:06.52. Ortman ranks sixth all-time at UK in the 800m run. This is Ortmanís first NCAA Championship competition of her career.
At 6:45 p.m. ET, McKenzie will make a second appearance on the track, this time in the menís 100 meter dash first round heats. The junior ran a blistering personal-best time of 10.19 at the Mideast Regional to place sixth overall. The time ranks second all-time at UK only behind former Olympian Harden. Should the Queens, N.Y., native advance to the semifinals, he would run his third dash of the day at 8:10 p.m. ET. McKenzie could see the same short turnaround Thursday when he competes in the 200 meter dash.
Sophomore Jenna Martin will enter the blocks for the womenís 400 meter dash at 7:00 p.m. ET. The Nova Scotia, Canada, native qualified as an at-large candidate in the event. Martin holds both UK varsity and freshman records for the outdoor and indoor 400m runs. Martin is making her fourth-straight NCAA Championships appearance in as many opportunities. In 2007, Martin was an Outdoor semifinalist in the 400m dash. At the 2008 Indoors, Martin earned All-America honors after placing sixth in the nation The Wildcatís best outdoor time this season of 52.77 came at the SEC Championships last month.
The last Wildcat to compete Wednesday is freshman Grant Lindsey in the menís high jump. Lindsey is the Mideast Regional Champion in the event and is tied for the fifth-best height cleared nationally as the top-ranked freshman in the country. Lindseyís top height clearance of 7-3.25 occurred in early May at the Jesse Owens Track Classic in Columbus. The SEC Outdoor Champion already claims the UK outdoor freshman high jump record and is only 1.25 inches off of the school varsity record.
A handful of Blue and White athletes will not compete until Thursday. That group of Cats includes automatic qualifier and junior Mikel Thomas in the menís 110m hurdles. The menís 4x400m relay squad waits until the end of the second day to compete. Seniors Justin Harrison and Nathan Browning join Obeng and Acevedo in the competition. Senior John Richardson will compete in his final NCAA Championship during the menís 1500 meter run on day two.
The Wildcat that has the longest wait is freshman Danielle Sampley. Sampley will compete in the womenís heptathlon over the final two days of the Championships.
Live stats will be available from the UKathletics.com homepage and the track and field schedule page Wednesday. On Friday evening, CBS College Sports Television, formerly CSTV, will broadcast track event finals from the Championships live from 8:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. ET. On Saturday, national network CBS will broadcast the running event finals live from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. ET.
A full recap of Wildcat performances and a preview of the next dayís events will be available after each day of competition on UKathletics.com.
Kentucky NCAA Championship Meet Participation Schedule
Menís Discus Throw Qualifying Ė Wednesday 2:30 p.m. ET
Womenís Discus Throw Qualifying Ė Wednesday 5:00 p.m. ET
Menís Hammer Throw Qualifying Ė Wednesday 5:00 p.m. ET
Menís 4x100 Meter Relay Semifinal Ė Wednesday 5:45 p.m. ET
Womenís 800 Meter Run First Round Ė Wednesday 6:00 p.m. ET
Menís 100 Meter Dash First Round Ė Wednesday 6:45 p.m. ET
Womenís 400 Meter Dash First Round Ė Wednesday 7:00 p.m. ET
Menís High Jump Qualifying Ė Wednesday 7:15 p.m. ET
Menís 100 Meter Dash Semifinal Ė Wednesday 8:10 p.m. ET
Menís Shot Put Qualifying Ė Thursday 5:15 p.m. ET
Menís 110 Meter Hurdles First Round Ė Thursday 5:50 p.m. ET
Menís 200 Meter Dash First Round Ė Thursday 6:25 p.m. ET
Womenís 400 Meter Dash Semifinal Ė Thursday 6:45 p.m. ET
Womenís 800 Meter Run Semifinal Ė Thursday 7:15 p.m. ET
Menís 200 Meter Dash Semifinal Ė Thursday 7:45 p.m. ET
Menís 1500 Meter Run Semifinal Ė Thursday 8:10 p.m. ET
Menís 4x400 Meter Relay Semifinal Ė Thursday 8:55 p.m. ET
Womenís Heptathlon Day One Ė Friday 2:00 p.m. ET