Olivia Gruver | Photo by Chet White, UK athletics

Sophomore Olivia Gruver won Kentucky’s seventh individual NCAA Outdoor Title, and first in the pole vault, to springboard the Wildcats into second place in the team standings after the first day of women’s competition on Thursday.

Gruver’s winning clearance of 14-feet, nine inches/4.50 meters scored 10 points, and Sha’Keela Saunders added four with a fifth-place finish in the long jump, giving UK 14 points through six of 21 events. Georgia leads with 24.2 points, Arizona State is third with 13, Kansas is fourth with 12 and Arkansas is fifth with 11.2.

“It’s just surreal.” Gruver said. “I don’t even know what’s happening, but it’s fun. I love competing against great people because you know that when you win, you’re good. It’s crazy, but I want to say that everyone did a great job today.”

Gruver — top qualifier out of the East Preliminary Championships on her home runway 14 days ago –recovered well from failing to clear any height at the Southeastern Conference Championships earlier this season.

She took bronze in the NCAA and SEC Indoor Championships earlier this year. Gruver advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships finals site last year, where she placed 21st having cleared 13’3.5″/4.05m.

Vaulting in cool, mostly overcast conditions after rain fell earlier on Thursday, Gruver cruised over the bar on her first two attempts.

She missed her first attempt at 14’5.25”/4.40m, but then cleared on the second attempt. The Baltimore product then got over 14’7.25”/4.45m on her first go, by which point only 2016 NCAA Champion Alexis Weeks (Arkansas) remained in the competition.

With just two athletes left, and all eyes trained upon the Hayward Field back stretch runway, Gruver cleared the next height just barely brushing the bar at 14’9”/4.50m, yet getting over with a personal best by one centimeter.


Weeks missed her first attempt at that height and elected to pass through to the next: 14’11”/4.55m.

Having failed to get over at the lower bar, she had only two misses remaining and couldn’t fly above the standard, giving Gruver her first national title.

Gruver made three attempts at 14’11”/4.55m, but was unable to clear.

Saunders, the 2017 NCAA and SEC Indoor Champion, needed to improve on her final long jump attempt, but could only reach a mark of 21’3.25”/6.48m to place fifth. She wrapped up her collegiate career as an NCAA Champion, two-time SEC Champion, and five-time NCAA medalist.

Thursday qualifiers
Kentucky’s 4x100m relay of Precious Hitchcock, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, Kayelle Clarke and Kianna Gray won semifinal heat three in 43.45Q to advance to the final.


They had the fourth-fastest time of the semifinals and will run out of lane six at 6:32 p.m. ET Saturday. Notably, co-collegiate record holder LSU, in addition to Miami, Auburn and Texas A&M were disqualified.

SEC Champion Katy Kunc broke 10 minutes in the 3k steeplechase for the first time. She set a new seven-second personal best, 9:55.59, to advance to her first NCAA final. She took fifth in her semifinal to claim the last automatic qualifying place with the eighth fastest time of the heats overall.


Camacho-Quinn cruised into the 100m hurdles final winning heat one in 12.84, second fastest of the semifinals. She’ll defend her title Saturday at 7:12pm ET.
The Friday primer
Friday’s action will feature just men’s competitors as the men’s team title will be decided.

Two Wildcats will compete on Friday. Justin Kretchmer will high jump at 8 p.m. ET, and Nick Anderson will return to the NCAA 110m hurdles final in which he placed second last year.

Anderson will run out of lane eight at 9:12 p.m. ET.

ESPN will broadcast the meet starting at 8:30 p.m. The early going of the high jump will be available on ESPN3/WatchESPN.

The women’s competition concludes on Saturday on ESPN.
UKTF NCAA Outdoor Championships Precedent

The UK women’s qualified one fewer entry to Eugene, 16, than it did a year ago (17).

The UK men’s team advanced one more NCAA qualifier than it did a year ago.
The UK women’s team was 11th, and the men’s team was 22nd at 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

The UK women’s team’s best NCAA finish was as runner-up in 2015 with 50 points. The UK men’s team’s best NCAA outdoor finish was ninth with 25 points in 2008.

The format
Athletes earn points for their teams at the NCAA Championships based on top-8 finishes with points awarded on a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis where first place gets 10 points and eighth place gets one.


The meet features 21 events per gender, and the team with the most points at the end wins.


Oregon is serving as NCAA Outdoor Championships host institution for the fifth season in a row in a run that’s slated to run through 2021.

Wednesday, June 7 – UK results
Men’s Track Events
Event Round UK Entry
110m Hurdles Semifinal 6. Nick Anderson: 13.49q (+1.4) | School record
10k Final 22. Jacob Thomson: 29:55.14
Men’s Field Events
Event Round UK entry
Javelin Throw Final 22. Ethan Shalaway: 213’4″/65.02m
Long Jump Final Fred Dorsey: foul
Shot Put Final 13. Nikolas Huffman: 61’8.5”/18.81m | Outdoor season best


Thursday, June 8
Women’s Track Events
Event Round UK entry
4x100m Relay Semifinal 4. UK (Hitchcock, Camacho-Quinn, Clarke, Gray): 43.45Q
3k Steeplechase


Semifinal 8. Katy Kunc: 9:55.59Q | Seven-second PB, school record
100m Hurdles Semifinal 2. Jasmine Camacho-Quinn: 12.84Q (+0.1)
100m Semifinal 9. Destiny Carter: 11.38 (+0.2)

13. Kianna Gray: 11.42 (-1.6)

200m Semifinal 11. Destiny Carter: 23.21 (+1.7)
12. Jasmine Camacho-Quinn: 23.24 (+1.9)14. Kianna Gray: 23.33 (+1.7)
4x400m Relay Semifinal 21. Kentucky: 3:40.20
Women’s Field Events
Event Round – Top 9 to final UK entry
Pole Vault Final 1. Olivia Gruver: 14’9”/4.50m – 10 points | Improves school record by 1cm
Javelin Throw Final 20. Sarah Blake: 160’8”/48.97m
Long Jump Final 5. Sha’Keela Saunders: 21’3/25”/6.48m – 4 points
12. Destiny Carter: 20’6.25”/6.25m


Decathlon Day One
Event Round UK entry
100m Event 1 1. Tim Duckworth: 10.54 – 966 points | .08 PB (PB by 19 points)
Long Jump Event 2 Duckworth: Three fouls
Shot Put Event 3 11. Duckworth: 44’0.5”/13.42m – 693 points | Personal best by 1’1” (20 points PB, 71 points better than his prior decathlon best)
High Jump Event 4 2. Duckworth: 6’11.75”/2.13m – 925 points | Tied outdoor personal best
400m Event 5 16. Duckworth: 49.69 – 829 points
Day One Total 5of10 events 24. Duckworth: 3414
110m Hurdles Event 6 2. Tim Duckworth: 14.30 (+2.0) – 936 points | 40-point PB
Discus Throw Event 7 7. Duckworth: 136’3”/41.52m – 696 points | PB
Pole Vault Event 8 2. Tim Duckworth: 16’5.25”/5.01m – 913 points
Javelin Throw Event 9 15. Duckworth: 171’2”/52.19m – 621 points
1500m Event 10 20. Duckworth: 5:20.56 – 447 points
Decathlon Total 19. Duckworth: 7026


Friday, June 9
Men’s Track Events
Time (PT) Event Round UK entry
5:32 p.m. 4x100m Relay Final
5:42 p.m. 1500m Final
5:54 p.m. 3k Steeplechase Final
6:12 p.m. 110m Hurdles Final Lane 8: Anderson
6:22 p.m. 100m Final
6:32 p.m. 400m Final
6:44 p.m. 800m Final
6:57 p.m. 400m Hurdles Final
7:07 p.m. 200m Final
7:13 p.m. 200m Heptathlon
7:25 p.m. 5k Final
7:51 p.m. 4x400m Relay Final
Men’s Field Events
Time (PT) Event Round UK entry
5:00 p.m. High Jump Final Justin Kretchmer
5:05 p.m. Discus Throw Final
5:40 p.m. Triple Jump Final


Saturday, June 10
Track Events
Time (PT) Event Round UK entry
3:32 p.m. 4x100m Relay Final Ln. 6: UK
3:41 p.m. 1500m Final
3:54 p.m. 3k Steeplechase Final Kunc
4:12 p.m. 100m Hurdles Final Ln. 4: Camacho-Quinn
4:22 p.m. 100m Final
4:32 p.m. 400m Final
4:44 p.m. 800m Final
4:57 p.m. 400m Hurdles Final
5:07 p.m. 200m Final
5:13 p.m. 800m Heptathlon
5:25 p.m. 5k Final
5:51 p.m. 4x400m Relay Final
Field Events
Time (PT) Event Round UK entry
3:00 p.m. High Jump Final Ellen Ekholm
3:05 p.m. Discus Throw Final
3:40 p.m. Triple Jump Final – 2 flights Fl. 2 | No. 8: M-J Ebwea-Bile


The most up-to-date coverage of the UK track and field program is available via @KentuckyTrack handles on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Jake Most