Kentucky Track and Field alumni showed out at the 2019 USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships this weekend. Daniel Roberts (Class of 2019) and Kendra Harrison (’15) swept the short hurdles gold medals, Dezerea Bryant (’15) won the 200 meters, while Sydney (’18) McLaughlin took 400m hurdles silver and Sha’Keela Saunders (’17) claimed long-jump bronze to boot.
Those five Wildcat alumni made Team USA by virtue of top-three finishes at the American qualifying meet for the IAAF World Championships to be held in Doha, Qatar from Sept. 28-Oct. 6.
Kentucky Wildcats added to the program’s track record as the nation’s leading training ground for world-class hurdlers with Roberts’ continued 2019 rise on display while Harrison and McLaughlin added to their growing tallies of U.S. medals.
Following a historic junior season this past spring, now professional Roberts won his first U.S. title in the men’s 110m hurdles with a time of 13.23.
Roberts ran the second fastest time in the world this year, 13.00, en route to NCAA Silver in an epic race that served as the finale of his collegiate competition of his career
Roberts cruised to the victory with Grant Holloway, his collegiate rival, good friend and the world leader second best (13.36) after a 12.98 NCAA record in the aforementioned NCAA final last month. Roberts won the Southeastern Conference title over the Florida Gator as they ignited the track and field world with historic head-to-heads all season.
Harrison, a two-time NCAA Champion, won a third consecutive U.S. 100H title, running an impressive 12.44 into a -1.2 headwind a similar time into wind like last year at the same competition.
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
McLaughlin took silver in the women’s 400H running a season-best 52.88 to make her first World Championship team. Reigning Olympic Champion Dalilah Muhammad won in a new world record time 52.20.
Ashley Spencer was took bronze making Team USA’s 400H medal-winners the same trio that made the 2016 Olympic Team when McLaughlin emerged as a superstar teenage sensation, committing to attend UK later that fall – her senior year in high school.
“It was a really fast race and I could feel the pace being pushed,” McLaughlin told the Associated Press. “I’m happy to be a part of a world-record race. It’s awesome.”
McLaughlin won the 2018 NCAA 400H title after setting the collegiate record in the SEC final before turning professional after her freshman campaign.
Two Wildcats were in the U.S. 400H final as UK Class of 2017 alumna Kiah Seymour – who was 2016 NCAA silver medalist – placed seventh in the final with a time of 56.24.
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Bryant wins a signature gold
UK Class of 2015 and two-time NCAA 200m Champion Dezerea Bryant won her first USATF Gold in her signature event with a 22.47 time.
“I woke up this morning and I’m like, ‘I’m not going to be denied,” Bryant said to the AP. “That was my attitude.”
She made Team USATF for a major championship for the first time in her career after being on the 2015 World Championships relay pool.
She just missed out on making the 100m team placing fourth in the Friday final with a time of 11.29 (-1.7).
Saunders long jump medals again
Saunders, who wrapped her collegiate career in 2017 after winning the NCAA indoor long jump gold, medaled at USAs for the third year in a row. Entering the meet as defending champion, Saunders claimed bronze in 2019 with a season-best 22’3.5”/6.79m (+1.7).
Saunders has now made Team USA for the past two World Championships after coming agonizingly close to making the 2016 Olympic Team as a college junior.
Other UK attachment results
Reigning NCAA silver medalist and rising UK senior Chloe Abbott made the USATF women’s 400m semifinals a few weeks after she took bronze for Team USATF at the NACAC U23 Championships in Mexico.
Micaela Hazlewood, a graduate transfer who took silver in the SEC shot put indoors earlier this season was 11th in the women’s discus with a toss of 183’6”/55.94 in one last competition in the UK uniform. She moved to No. 6 on the UK all-time performers’ list.
UK Class of 2018 and multiple-time SEC Champion Jacob Thomson was 14th in the men’s 10k final running 29:09.73 in this his first full professional season.
UK Class of 2018 and 2017 SEC Champion Katy Kunc was 14th in the women’s 3k steeplechase making that final for the second year in a row.
Class of 2014 and multiple-time SEC Champion Cally Macumber was 19th in the 5k final in 16:07.63.
International Wildcat results
Rising junior Dwight St. Hillaire took silver in the Trinidad and Tobago 400m running 46.08. St. Hillaire will need to run the 45.30 World Championships qualifying standard before Sept. 6 to make the T&T quarter-mile field. His season best is 45.47, but his PB is 44.55 from his 2018 freshman year.
St. Hillaire was sixth in the Trinidad and Tobago 200m final running 20.88. Rondel Sorrillo, the 2009 NCAA 200-Meter Champion was fourth in 20.70.
Sorrillo took bronze in the 100m final running 10.23 (+1.4) but he’ll need to achieve the World Championships time of 10.10 to make the World Championships 100m team.