SEC track and field: Neal wins 1,500, Dykystra wins javelin for UK

mmaloney@herald-leader.comMay 18, 2014 

Things didn't go exactly as planned for Keffri Neal, but the Kentucky junior still got the finish he was after Sunday.

Neal came from off the pace to win the men's 1,500-meter run on the last of four days of competition in the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

His final lap of 52.94 seconds gave him the victory on his home track in 3:48.69.

Ole Miss freshman Robert Domanic edged UK's Matt Hillenbrand for second place, 3:49.02 to 3:49.68. Defending champion Patrick Rono of Arkansas came in fifth.

"We had a little plan going into the race, but it didn't work out like we thought it would," said Neal, who had planned to share the chore of leading with Hillenbrand. "But the full race kind of played into my hands since I was able to use a good kick."

Neal's win, along with Raymond Dykstra's first-place finish in the javelin, highlighted the UK men's performances.

Second-ranked Texas A&M took men's team honors with 155½ points. Three-time defending champion and fourth-ranked Arkansas wound up second with 116.

"We lined it up today," A&M Coach Pat Henry said. "People got after it and did the things we're capable of doing, and then some exceeded. That's what we're trying to do at this kind of competition."

No. 1 Florida edged No. 7 Georgia for third, 93-92, followed by No. 18 Ole Miss with 78 and No. 19 UK with 65½ .

After his win in the metric mile, Neal came back to pick up another point by placing eighth in the 800 meters, an event won by Mississippi State's Brandon McBride.

"It was tough," Neal said. "I came in here wanting to win. Knowing that I was in both finals, I knew the 800 would be very tough, which it proved to be. But I'm very happy with winning the 1,500."

Dykstra dominated the javelin, the day's first event.

The SEC runner-up the past two seasons, Dykstra opened with a throw of 249 feet, 2 inches. On his second try, he broke his own stadium record by eight inches with a heave of 250-10. That proved to be the winner.

"I knew it was going to be a steep competition today, so I knew going out there the first couple throws needed to be big," Dykstra said. "The plan was to spook everyone early. The first throw, it went well. The second throw as well again. I think overall it's been my best series, but I definitely know there's a lot more in the tank. Those first couple throws, they were good, but they weren't great. So there's a lot more to come."

Runner-up Justin Carter of Auburn checked in at 239-7, the longest throw in the nation by a freshman this year.

UK picked up a fourth place in the shot put, as Brad Szypka reached 64-3.

UK pole vaulters Charles Moushey and Michael Jensen took fifth and eighth.

Ibn Short placed sixth in the high jump.

As for Texas A&M, the Aggies' Deon Lendore, an Olympic relay bronze medalist from Trinidad, blitzed the 400 meters in 44.36. That made for the second-fastest in the world this year and his second straight title. Lendore later anchored A&M's meet-record 4-by-400 relay (3:01.19) with a 44.2 split.

He also anchored the Aggies to a meet-record 38.50 4-by-100 relay, combining with Shavez Hart, Aldrich Bailey Jr., and Prezel Hardy Jr.

Hardy and Hart made 1-2 sweeps of the 100 and 200.

A&M's Wayne Davis II repeated as champ in the 110-meter hurdles. His time of 13.23 ranks fifth on the all-time collegiate list. UK's Nick Anderson placed fourth in 13.93.

Gregory Coleman was A&M's other champion, taking the 400-meter hurdles in 49.88.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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