The University of Kentucky basketball team can't have all the glory: This time, it was a member of the UK rodeo team (yes, UK has a rodeo team) who saved the day.
Adam Menker, 21, an animal sciences major from Findlay, Ohio, lassoed a steer that had been trotting on and near campus for more than an hour Tuesday.
Ironically, the steer came from the UK agriculture college, too.
Richard Coffey, chairman of the animal and food science department, said the steer had been part of a research project and was being taken into the basement of the Garrigus Building on campus for processing, which is a polite euphemism for slaughter.
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"He was heading to the abattoir," Coffey said.
The steer had other ideas. He hit a gate with a faulty latch, escaped and took his chances on the open road.
"It's one of those unfortunate things," Coffey said. "When you work with livestock, it happens."
And when it does, it goes viral.
Nancy Cox, dean of the agriculture college, first heard about the loose steer via Twitter, where #UKsteer was taking off.
Students came out of classes to catch a glimpse of him; a truck dri ver parked in front of the Kentucky Educational Television studios and got out to get a video of him.
Someone retweeted the picture of the loose steer, captioned "Wisconsin spy," a reference to Saturday's Final Four match-up between Kentucky and Wisconsin. Other tweeters dubbed the steer "Tyler Moo-lis," for the basketball player whose last name is Ulis; "Willie Cowley-Stein," for Kentucky's All-American forward Willie Cauley-Stein; and "Dairy-is Milker," for former UK star Darius Miller.
Media types followed the pursuit up and down the road.
UK meat department head Gregg Rentfrow later said he ran 3 miles while chasing the steer.
"My first worry is for the safety of the cow but for the people as well," Cox said. "Our guys felt really bad when this steer got loose. ... They're worried about the steer, worried about if he hurts somebody, about having to shut down Cooper Drive. ... It was a big inconvenience."
UK sent out text and phone alerts, advising people to avoid Cooper Drive, which was closed at University Drive, because of loose livestock. A team of handlers from Bluegrass Stockyards was called in to help.
For a while, the steer looked to be cornered near the tennis courts, where the players seemed oblivious to the ruckus. Then, with a surprisingly fleet turn of foot, he was away up Cooper again, past the football practice fields.
Lexington and campus police eventually had to block Cooper — the main road through campus — completely.
About that time, Menker stepped forward with a rope and offered his services to clearly skeptical police officers. He was allowed to move in and joined the hunt.
The steer made one more break toward Kastle Road, but he was blocked and tranquilized.
That's when Menker, former president of UK's rodeo team and a team roper, lassoed him. The gang of handlers managed to hang onto the rope as the steer struggled and finally gave in.
About 11:30 a.m., he was loaded into a trailer and was taken back to UK's farm in Woodford County to sleep it off after two hours on the run.
As for Menker, agriculture dean Cox dubbed him "the hero of the hour."
Menker said he was glad that his roping skills, learned on cattle ranches, could be of help.
"I just never thought I'd have to use them here on campus."