Kentucky Class of 2015 alumna Kendra Harrison won her first United States 100-Meter Hurdles Championship, while senior Sha’Keela Saunders and Class of 2014 alumnus Andrew Evans earned spots on the Team USA that will compete at the 2017 IAAF World Championships later this summer, on a banner Saturday for Wildcats at Hornet Stadium.

Harrison, who needed only to start an event at USAs this weekend to book her spot on a second straight U.S. World Championships team did many better on Saturday.

After winning the U.S. indoor 60m hurdles earlier this year, she exacted a measure of redemption from not making the Olympic Team a year ago by winning her first American outdoor championship.

And she did so with a strong time of 12.60 in the final running into a -1.7 meters per second headwind. 2016 Olympic silver medalist Nia Ali was second in 12.68.

“It feels amazing,” Harrison said. “I had a few obstacles getting here, but I stayed confidant, listened to my coach and believed everything would work out. The race went by so fast that I’m just feeling blessed to come out here and get my first title.

“I want to show what I have inside me and coming out here and performing well felt good. My goal for London is to try and go get my first world title.”

 

Harrison broke the American record a few weeks before the Olympic Trials a year ago, only to finish sixth in the U.S. final – outside the top three places and the trip to Rio de Janeiro that went along with them. Two weeks later at the London Anniversary Games – on the track that will host the World Championships in August – she broke the world record, running 12.20 to beat a world class field, which included all three women who would medal at the Olympic Games. She finished 2016 having won at every 100m hurdles competition she entered except the Olympic Trials.

“This lets me know that I can come to these championships and get the job done,” Harrison said. “It’s definitely the confidence that I need.”

Harrison claimed U.S. silver wearing her Kentucky uniform for the final time as a collegian in 2015. She advanced to the World Championships semifinals at Beijing’s Olympic Stadium.

Finally a U.S. major championship team for Sha’Keela Saunders
Saunders’ Saturday performance featured plenty of catharsis to go along with a first USATF senior bronze medal.

 

The 2017 NCAA Indoor Long Jump Champion missed U.S. long jump team by one spot each of the past two years – including coming agonizingly close to claiming an Olympic berth on Team USA last year. She placed fourth – one spot, the measure of one inch and three quarters, off the team at the U.S. Trials. To boot she was in third place entering the final round that fateful day last July, only to be eclipsed one jumper before her final attempt, and then unable to answer.

On Saturday, once again, she needed to improve in the final three rounds to move into position to medal and make the U.S. World Championships team. On this day she finally produced a jump far enough.

 

Saunders earned the bronze medal with a windy personal best mark of 22’8.5”/6.92m (+3.0) that came in the fifth round. She moved into second place briefly with that mark, before being knocked back a notch by 2012 Olympic Champion Brittney Reese in the same round. Saunders entered the meet without the World Championships standard 22’1.75”/6.75m (she’d reached that mark a few times indoors, but the IAAF requires it to be achieved outdoors in the same season) and her third place mark was wind-aided so it wouldn’t count for qualification. Indeed, the two-time SEC Champion’s second best mark of the day – 22’2.25”/6.77m into a -0.8 headwind in round four was half an inch beyond the qualification minimum.

Reigning World and Olympic Champion Tianna Bartoletta won the women’s long jump with a mark of 23’1.75”/7.05m (+3.0), while the aforementioned Reese – who took silver in Rio – was second at 22’10.75”/6.98m (+2.1).

“This is a relief,” Saunders said. “It was a long time coming. I was outside in fourth place again looking in like ‘this cannot happen again.’ I just prayed hard and finally got that mark to put me in third place.

“(Kentucky Head) Coach (Edrick) Floréal has really taught me how to suck it up, control those emotions and make those last jumps count.”

Evans takes U.S. discus silver
Andrew Evans medaled in the U.S. discus for the third year in a row, taking his first American silver with a mark of 205’3”/62.57m, and made Team USA for the second season in a row.

Evans took U.S. bronze in 2015 and 2016. In 2015, he didn’t qualify for the World Championships as he never achieved the standard that season. A year ago, he entered trials already with the standard, and therefore competed in Rio.

Evans entered the 2017 Championships in many ways the form thrower of the season. His 218’7”66.61m throw in Southern California earlier this year is the U.S. leader, and ranked 12th in the world.

“I’m a little disappointed not to win,” Evans said. “It was probably my worst performance of the year, and even though conditions weren’t perfect, I’m still happy to make the team. This is the second U.S. team I’ve made so I’ve kind of got to keep it going. I still just wanted to make the team.”

Saturday qualifiers
UK senior Nick Anderson qualified automatically for his second straight U.S. 110m hurdles semifinal by placing fourth in heat one with a time of 13.77q. He had the 12th fastest time of the first round.

UK senior Destiny Carter advanced automatically to the 200m semifinals by taking third place in heat two with a time of 22.80Q (-0.8). Carter made her first U.S. senior final in the long jump, placing eighth with a mark of 21’2”/6.45m (+2.0). She advanced to the 100m semifinals earlier in the week.

UK Class of 2015 alumna Dezerea Bryant also qualified for the 200m semis, based on time.  The two-time NCAA Champion’s 23.03 was fourth in heat one – one place from an automatic andvancement, 12th fastest of the prelims overall and second best of the four non-automatic qualifiers.  Carter had the fifth fastest qualifying time.

UK volunteer assistant coach, and Floréal pupil, Kori Carter, as well as Wildcat signee and Olympian Sydney McLaughlin both advanced to the 400m hurdles final.

Carter and McLaughlin went two-three in the second semifinal heat, and had the fourth and fifth fastest qualifying times: 54.04 – a season best – and 54.76 respectively.

Charles Lenford Jr. placed 10th in the U.S. junior discus with a mark of 169’8”/51.73m.

Worldwide Wildcat Saturday results
Reigning Olympic 110m hurdles gold medalist Omar McLeod – who began training under UK head coach Edrick Floréal at the start of the month – won the Jamaican title in a national and Commonwealth 110m hurdles record 12.90 (+0.7). He moved to fifth on world all-time list. That was the fastest performance by any competitor since Aries Merritt set the world record at 12.80 in 2012, per IAAF senior web editor Jon Mulkeen.

At the Trinidad and Tobago Championships, UK assistant coach Rondel Sorrillo claimed bronze in the 100m final in 10.15 (+1.8). He was 0.007 seconds behind silver. Sorrillo has yet to achieve the World Championships standard of 10.12 this season, although the IAAF allows athletes to chase the time until Sunday, July 23.

UK 4x100m relay third leg NCAA Champion Kayelle Clarke finished fifth in the T&T women’ 100m final with a personal best time of 11.31 (+0.9).

Mikel Thomas was disqualified in the 110m hurdles at the T&T Championships.

A look ahead to Sunday
The USATF Outdoor Championships will conclude Sunday. NBC will broadcast the USATF Outdoor Championships Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET. Coverage outside the linear broadcast windows will air on NBC Sports’ streaming platform: NBC Sports Gold.

Reigning NCAA Pole Vault Champion Olivia Gruver will compete in her first senior U.S. competition beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

Carter and Bryant will run the 200m semifinals at 3:20 p.m. with the final scheduled for 5:43 p.m. ET.

Nick Anderson will run his second straight U.S. 110m hurdles semifinals at 4:04 p.m. ET, with the final scheduled for 5:53 p.m.

 

The women’s 400m hurdles final is slated for a 4:46 p.m. start.

 

Meet primer

The Kentucky track and field season continues under the California Central Valley’s scorching sun this weekend at the USATF Outdoor Championships, held for the fourth time since 2000 at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium.

The USATF Senior and Junior Championships will each be contested concurrently this weekend in Sacramento.

The USATF Outdoor Championships run June 22-25, and serve as the selection competition (trials) the Team USATF that will travel to the World Championships, to be held August 4-13 at London’s 2012 Olympic Stadium (now named the London Stadium).

USATF.org will provide live results at separate sites for the senior and junior championships.

The stadium was host site for the 2014 USATF Outdoor Championships – with no major international championship scheduled that year, and prior to that the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Trials. Hornet Stadium also hosted multiple NCAA Championships in the mid-2000s.

Seven members of the current UK women’s team – which placed fourth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships earlier this month – and two more members of the UK men’s team – including 2016 NCAA 110m hurdles semifinalist and Olympic Trials semifinalist Nick Anderson – are competing at “USAs.”

Temperatures in Sacramento topped 100 degrees the first two days of the meet, and reached the upper 90s on Saturday. The Sunday high is forecasted to be 97 degrees for the meet finale.

Sacramento State previously hosted USATF Outdoor Championships in 2014, and the U.S. Olympic Trials for Track & Field in 2000 and 2004. Sacramento was also recently announced as a finalist city for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials – Track & Field, along with Eugene, Oregon and Walnut, California.

UK assistant coach Toby Stevenson qualified for the Olympic Games in Sacramento in 2004. He’d go on to claim the silver medal in the pole vault in Athens later that summer. Stevenson, who works directly with the vertical jumpers and multi-event athletes at UK coached Olivia Gruver to the NCAA Championship in the pole vault two weeks ago. He also coached Tim Duckworth to NCAA silver in the men’s indoor heptathlon in March. Stevenson coached reigning Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi to the NCAA title in 2012.

Plenty more athletes with Kentucky connections will compete at National Championships across the globe this weekend as well as in the coming weeks.

For example current UK assistant coach, three-time Olympian and NCAA 200m Champion at UK as a collegian Rondel Sorrillo will run at the Trinidad and Tobago Championships.

 

Information for this report was obtained via USATF.

 

UK at 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships

Day Three UK results — Saturday, June 24th
TIME EVENT DIVISON ROUND
Discus Men Final 2. Andrew Evans (Nike – UK Class of 2014): 206’9”/63.03m | Makes U.S. World Championships Team
Discus Jr. Men Final 10. CJ Lenford: 169’8”/51.73m
110m Hurdles Men First Round

Top 3 + next 4 fastest to semis

12. Nick Anderson: 13.77q
200m Women First Round
Top 3 + next 4 fastest to semis
5. Destiny Carter: 22.80Q (-0.8)
12. Dezerea Bryant (Nike – UK Class of 2015): 23.03q (-1.8)

21. Kianna Gray: 23.44 (-0.8)

Long Jump Women Final
Top 8 to final
3. Sha’Keela Saunders: 22’8.5”/6.92m (+3.0) | Makes U.S. World Championships Team

8. Destiny Carter: 21’2”/6.45m (+2.0)

100m Hurdles Women Final 1. Kendra Harrison (UK Class of 2015): 12.60 (-1.7) | Makes U.S. World Championships Team, first USATF Outdoor Title (won 2017 USATF indoor 60m hurdles)

Semifinal
2. Harrison: 12.58Q (-2.4)

400m Hurdles Women Semifinal
Top 4 each semi to final
4. Kori Carter (Jordan, UK volunteer assistant): 54.04Q
5. Sydney McLaughlin (UK signee): 54.76Q
Day Four UK schedule — Sunday, June 25th
TIME (ET) EVENT DIVISION ROUND UK entry
3:00 p.m. Pole Vault Women Final Olivia Gruver
3:20 p.m. 200m Women Semifinal –
Top 4 each semi to final
Heat 1
Lane 4: Destiny Carter

Heat 2
Lane 2: Dezerea Bryant

4:04 p.m. 110m Hurdles Men Semifinal –
Top 4 each semi to final
Heat 2
Lane 1: Nick Anderson
4:20 p.m. 400m Hurdles Women Final Lane 7: Kori Carter (Jordan – UK volunteer assistant)
Lane 8: Sydney McLaughlin (UK signee)
4:43 p.m. Nike Women’s 200m Women Final TBD (Carter, Bryant)
5:53 p.m. 110m Hurdles Men Final TBD (Anderson)
Day Two UK results — Friday, June 23rd
EVENT DIVISION ROUND UK entry
Shot Put Jr. Men Final 5. Charles Lenford Jr.: 64’8.5”/19.72m
Shot Put Jr. Women Final
Top 8 to final
18. Nicole Fautsch: 43’10”/13.36m
100H Women First Round
Advance Top 3 + next 4 fastest to semis
1. Kendra Harrison: 12.54Q (-1.4) | Season best, world leader
100m Women Semifinal –
Top 3 + next 4 fastest to semis; Semis: Top 4 each semi to final
15. Destiny Carter: 11.36 (-0.7)
400H Women First Round
Advance top 4 + next 4 fastest to semis
3 prelims
2. Kori Carter (Jordan – UK volunteer assistant coach): 55.09Q
6. Sydney McLaughlin (UK signee): 55.41Q
5000m Women Final 19. Cally Macumber (UK class of 2014): 16:11.52
Day One UK results– Thursday, June 22nd
EVENT DIVISION ROUND UK entry
Hammer Men Final Foul: Andy Fryman
Javelin Women Final
One flight, top 8 to final
16. Sarah Blake:
100m Women First Round –
Advance Top 3 + next 4 fastest to semis (Four prelims)
14. Destiny Carter: 11.12q (+1.4)

26. Kianna Gray: 11.38 (+1.4)
28. Dezerea Bryant (UK Class of 2015): 11.42 (+0.7)

 

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

 

‑ GO CATS –
Jake Most

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