When things didn't go as planned Saturday, it was up to Keffri Neal to adapt.
The Kentucky senior did exactly that, coming from behind to win the men's 800 meters in the Rod McCravy Memorial indoor track and field meet at Nutter Fieldhouse.
"We had a rabbit in this race that was supposed to go through 400 in maybe 50, 51 (seconds). But that didn't really pan out since nobody went with him," Neal said. "So once I heard it was like 53, 54, I kind of had to improvise. So I decided to just stick with the pace."
Neal, who took the lead near the halfway mark, was overtaken by Illinois' Joe McAsey on the backstretch. But Neal returned the favor with about 100 meters left.
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"With 200 to go, the guy from Illinois went by me, and I just used him to help propel myself coming back in the homestretch," Neal said. "I sort of used him to pull me along and then I just shot out beside him and kicked as hard as I could."
Neal won in one minute, 48.52 seconds, followed by McAsey in 1:48.71.
"It's an indoor PR (personal record), which is good," Neal said. "... I was looking to run faster, but I can't complain with that."
Neal hopes to run the 800, mile or both in the NCAA Championships. Saturday's win could pay dividends come nationals, according to UK Coach Edrick Floreal.
"Keffri Neal did a huge job handling that field," Floreal said. "Most of these guys in that field are going to be at the NCAAs, so beating them is huge because of mental defeat. They have to deal with the fact that he beat them."
The McCravy field included all but one of the top seven women's teams in the nation, including No. 6 UK, and eight of the top 25. Eight of the NCAA top-25 men's teams were on hand.
"The teams were definitely more competitive and it was definitely a more rigid competition," Floreal said. "I'm really pleased with the way the team competed. I'm really pleased with the way that we ran the event. Big kudos to Don Weber (meet director and former UK coach). Fantastic job. That guy's attention to detail is unbelievable."
UK sophomore Sha'Keela Saunders, winner of Friday's long jump, took third in the triple jump. Her distance of 42-11¾ was a PR by about a foot. Georgia's Keturah Orji won with a meet and fieldhouse record of 45-10½ .
Other fieldhouse record-setters included: Arkansas' Dominique Scott in the women's mile (4:32.48); Arkansas' Andrew Irwin in the men's pole vault (18-4¾); Oregon's Edward Cheserek in the men's 3,000 (7:49.56), and Florida in the men's 4-by-400 relay (3:04.22).
Other meet record-setters: Morolake Akinosun of Texas in the women's 60 (:7.22); Kendall Baisden of Texas in the women's 400 (:51.81); Trayvon Bromell of Baylor in the men's 60 (:6.54), and Florida in the women's 4-by-400 relay (3:29.58).
Second to Bromell was former UK All-American Rondel Sorrillo, running unattached.
Sorrillo, a two-time Olympian for Trinidad and Tobago, is training here while continuing to work for his college degree. He came into the meet with a PR of :6.60.
He clocked :6.59 in Saturday's semifinals, then dropped to :6.57 in the finals.
"It wasn't a well-executed race, but I still had a pretty good time," Sorrillo said. "It's a second PR for me."
UK elite hurdler Kendra Harrison did not compete because of a sore leg muscle.
But Brad Szypka pushed through the men's shot put despite tweaking his groin. He nearly reached his PR, throwing 64-6¾ to place fourth.
Floreal also cited Tim Duckworth and Nick Anderson for jobs well done.
Duckworth placed fourth in the heptathlon with 5,454 points. Anderson took fourth in the 60-meter hurdles in :7.88, just behind former UK standout Keith Hayes' :7.85.
"I think we've got fewer things to improve on, but still quite a bit of things to improve on," Floreal said. "As long as that laundry list keeps getting smaller and smaller, that's a good thing. We're getting closer to kind of where we want."
Other women's winners included: Tori Bliss of LSU in the spot put (57-4¾); Sasha Wallace of Oregon in the 60 hurdles (:8.16); Claudia Francis of Florida in the 800 (2:06.96), and Sandie Raines of Texas in the 3,000 (9:21.16).
Other men's winners included: Florida's Marquis Dendy in the triple jump (52-8¼); Georgia's Ashinia Miller in the shot put (66-7¾); Ohio State's Donovan Robinson in the 60 hurdles (:7.79); Oregon's Colby Alexander in the mile (4:00.84); unattached Bryce Spratling in the 400 (:46.55), and Georgia's Garrett Scantling in the heptathlon (5,886 points).