Six Cats Compete in Olympic Trials This Weekend
EUGENE, Oregon and WINDSOR, Canada Ė Six University of Kentucky track and field members will compete at the Olympic trials in the United States and Canada this weekend at Eugene, Ore., and Windsor, Ontario, respectively, for a chance to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games to be held in Beijing, China, this August.
UK assistant coach for throws, Doug Reynolds, will join three of his athletes throwing in Eugene. Reynolds will compete in the menís discus throw with two of his pupils in qualifying on Thursday beginning at 11:30 p.m. ET. Two Kentucky discus champions join Reynolds out west. NCAA Champion Rashaud Scott and SEC Champion Chase Madison will test their skills against their coach for a chance to qualify for the Olympic Games. Only the top 12 finalists of the field of 24 throwers will compete again in the discus final on Sunday.
This will be the fourth Olympic trial competition for Reynolds. Previously ranked as high as 11th in the world during his prolific career, the UK coach is coming off a recent injury to battle the nationís best in the discus. This is the third time Reynolds will compete at the trials with athletes he has coached and the second time he will throw alongside his students in the menís discus. Reynolds comes in ranked 13th in the U.S. with a throw of 205-11.
Madison, the reigning SEC Outdoor discus champion, ranks 12th nationally coming into the discus qualifying. The Newton, Iowa, native edged his coach out on the list with a throw of 206-2 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., in late April. Madisonís mark ranks second all-time at UK behind two-time Olympian in discus, Mike Buncic. Madison and Buncic are the only two Wildcats in school history to throw over 200 feet. This is the first Olympic trial for Madison who is still competing while recovering from off-season foot surgery in 2007.
Scott was two inches from joining his classmate at the 200-foot mark this year after throwing a personal-best toss of 199-10 to win the Mideast Regional discus title in May. The Bronx, N.Y., native followed that title up with a bigger one at the NCAA National Championships to claim UKís first NCAA individual event championship in track and field since 1996. Scott is throwing at his first Olympic Trial and ranks 18th nationally in the Wildcat-heavy discus field.
Rising senior Ashley Muffet completes the UK throws contingent at the trials joining classmates Scott and Madison. Muffet will compete in the womenís shot put qualifying late in the day just after midnight Friday at 12:20 a.m. ET. The former SEC Commissioners Cup winner will face 19 other competitors with the top 12 advancing to the shot put final on Saturday.
Muffet will compete in her first Olympic trial in the womenís shot put. The North Canton, Ohio, native holds both the indoor and outdoor varsity womenís shot put records at Kentucky. Prior to red-shirting the 2008 Outdoor season, Muffet competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships finishing 16th in the nation last March. The Wildcat is ranked 13th in the country coming into shot put qualifying.
Rounding out the Wildcat quintet competing in the trials at host University of Oregon is high jumper Grant Lindsey. The rising sophomore placed second in the nation at the NCAA Outdoor National Championships last month breaking school varsity and freshman records in the event. Lindsey is part of a field of 26 jumpers that will begin competition at 10:25 p.m. ET Thursday. The top 14 jumpers will advance to the Saturday final.
Lindsey peaked at the end of the year setting school high jump records multiple times at the NCAA Championships last month with a final clearance of 7-5. The Mansfield, Texas, native was ranked among the top-five collegians in the nation all season in the event as the top-ranked freshman. Training with UK assistant coach for jumps, James Thomas, Lindsey has progressed to claim the 10th-best spot nationally going into his first Olympic Trials.
Sprinter Jenna Martin begins her Olympic quest north of the border in Canada this weekend. Martin will compete in her best event, the 400 meter dash, during the semifinals beginning Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET. Twenty-two competitors will battle Martin for a spot in the 400m dash final set for 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday.
Martin holds both the indoor and outdoor varsity and freshman records at Kentucky in the womenís 400 meter dash in just under two years. The Canadian also has an indoor 4x400m relay record in hand set earlier this year under the direction of UK assistant coach for sprints, Erin Tucker. Martin has already had a taste of international competition representing Canada last summer at the 2007 Pan Am Junior Athletics Championships held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The native of Bridgetown, Nova Scotia, comes into the Canadian trials with the third-best mark in the nation of 51.91 in the 400m dash that she ran under her flag in Brazil.
The top three finishers in each of event at the Olympic Trials event must have made the Olympic ďAĒ standard over the past 18 months to automatically represent their country in the Games. If the athlete has not achieved that mark at or prior to competition in the trials, the next best finisher in each event that has cleared the standard could be chosen for competition at the Games despite not finishing in the top three positions of their respective event.
The current ďAĒ standards in events with UK athletes are as follows: menís high jump (7-5.75), menís discus (209-2), womenís shot put (57-5) and the womenís 400m dash (51.45). The aforementioned Wildcats are on the cusp of these automatic marks but none have attained an ďAĒ standard yet.
One Wildcat that has attained an Olympic standard is sprinter Jose Acevedo who will represent Venezuela at the games after making the cut at the Mideast Regional Championships in May. In addition, recent UK graduate David Freeman has also been selected by his native Puerto Rico for the Games.
Acevedo and Freeman will join other Wildcats with ties to South America, the Caribbean and Central America this weekend at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Championships July 3-6 in Cali, Colombia. Hurdler Mikel Thomas of Trinidad and Tobago won two medals at the pre-eminent meet in his homeland last week but needs to make an Olympic standard to be considered for the contingent headed to China from the island nation. Luis Luna a 2007 UK graduate who sprinted for Venezuela in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, will also try to make the "A" standard of 45.95 in the men's 400m dash this weekend at the CACs.
There are not any dedicated broadcast times for any of the U.S. Olympic Trialsí field events on NBC and their cable affiliates like USA nor web streams found at NBCOlympics.com. Although, there may be highlights of field event competition interspersed with running event coverage from Hayward Field in Eugene throughout the weekend. Live U.S. Olympic results can be found at USATF.com or Eugene08.com while Canadian results can be found at Canadiantrials.ca.
True Blue fans can find recaps of each Wildcat performance on UKathletics.com at the end of each eveningís competition on the Pacific Coast and in Canada.
Kentucky Olympic Trials Participation Schedule July 3-4, 2008
Team USA Menís High Jump Qualifying Ė Thursday 10:25 p.m. ET
Team USA Menís Discus Qualifying Ė Thursday 11:30 p.m. ET
Team USA Womenís Shot Put Qualifying Ė Friday 12:20 a.m. ET
Team Canada Womenís 400 Meter Semifinals Ė Friday 8:30 p.m. ET