uk track 300LEXINGTON, Ky. (5/30/14) — Field Athletes shined brightest for the Kentucky Track and Field teams during the opening day of the NCAA East Preliminary Championships Thursday at the University of North Florida's Hodges Stadium.

A pair of long throwers were the first Wildcats to secure passage to the NCAA Championships by way of top-12 finishes in their respective events. Late into the night, as the meet was delayed for more than two hours in the early afternoon due to inclement weather, Sha’Keela Saunders created long jump fireworks of her own.

The freshman flew to a new school-record mark of 21-feet and 1¼ inches (6.43m) with only a +0.1 wind to help her. The mark broke Ola Sesay’s school-record by 1¼ inches, and won the event for Saunders, whose previous personal best was 20-11.25.

Raymond Dykstra and Rebecca Famurewa began the day for UK in the men’s javelin and women’s hammer throw respectively.

Dykstra’s best throw of 236-9/72.16m was good for second place overall. The Canadian junior improved on each of his first three throws, and elected to pass on all of his final three attempts, with his place in the NCAA Championships field secure. His mark of 236-9 was well short of his personal best 250-10, which he used to win the Southeastern Conference Championship two weeks ago.

Famurewa, who prior to this year was known as a discus specialist, produced a significant personal best throw to advance to the NCAA Championships in the hammer throw. Her mark of 198-8 (60.56m) continued a strong run of form for the sophomore in the event as she threw 193-9/59.06m for fourth place at the SEC Outdoor Championships.

Kenyattia Hackworth also advanced to the NCAA Championships, with more than a 2-inch PR of 20-4½/6.21m (w:+0.8).

Of the 17 Wildcats that competed Thursday, 12 advanced either to the quarterfinal races or to the NCAA Championships, which will be held June 11-14 in Eugene, Oregon. Four Wildcats booked their spots in the NCAA Championship field Thursday.

Wildcats Advance to Running-Event Quarterfinals

  • Angelica Whaley ran a 0.79-second PR time of 53.05 to advance to the 400m quarterfinal.

  • Keffri Neal won the fifth prelim heat & advanced automatically to the quarterfinals with a time of 1:49.21.

  • A pair of Wildcats, Dezerea Bryant & Keilah Tyson, advanced automatically to the 100m quarterfinals. Bryant advanced automatically behind a second place finish in heat 5, with a time of 11.57 (-0.6w). Tyson qualified automatically as well, with a heat 6 second-place time of 11.58.

  • Allison Peare advanced automatically to the 1,500m quarterfinal with a fifth-place finish in the first heat, in a time of 4:20.70.

  • Matt Hillenbrand was second in heat three of 1,500m prelims, with a time of 3:48.22.

  • Two Wildcats, Kendra Harrison and Leah Nugent, advanced to the 400m hurdles quarterfinal. Kendra Harrison – who entered the meet as the nation-leader and world No. 3 in the event – won her heat in a time of 56.85. Leah Nugent ran 47.51 to win her heat and advance automatically to Friday’s 7:45 p.m. quarterfinal.

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