Sports

Big Blue takes over Thursday's trials

EUGENE, Ore. — There was Grant Lindsey in the high jump.

Ashley Muffet in the shot put.

Chase Madison and Rashaud Scott in the discus.

All with one common thread: “Kentucky” emblazoned across their uniforms. And all are juniors except for Lindsey, a freshman.

No university had more athletes competing in Thursday's U.S. Olympic track and field trials at Hayward Field. Washington tied the Cats.

Arizona State, Arkansas and Colorado each had three entrants Thursday.

In addition, discus specialist and UK throws coach Doug Reynolds was competing in his fourth Olympic trials. And Ola Sesay, who began her collegiate career at UK, took sixth in the women's long jump.

Lindsey advanced to the high-jump finals, and it appeared likely that Scott and Reynolds also would advance.

Not a bad showing for Big Blue.

With Pacific Coast start times, some events did not finish in time for this edition. (Check Kentucky.com and the track and field trials blog for updates.)

Regardless of Thursday's results, the sheer number of Wildcats entered spoke volumes about the program. Coming into the season, Track & Field News magazine ranked the UK men's recruiting class No. 1 in the nation. That included transfers Madison, who won the Southeastern Conference title, and Scott, the newly crowned NCAA champion.

“Hard work in recruiting, good fortune seems to follow that,” said Don Weber, head coach of the Cats, who is here to catch the action. “Doug went to Mesa Junior College and knew the coach there very well, where Rashaud came from.

“And Iowa State, they fired their coaches last year. Doug was good friends with the throw coach at Iowa State, and that was probably our ‘in' on Chase.”

Colin Boevers, a true freshman from Salt Lake City, did not make it to the trials but is one of the better young discus throwers and shot-putters in the country. He placed third in the shot and seventh in discus at last month's U.S. Junior Championships.

“We anticipate we'll have some presence in that event (discus) for a while,” Weber said.

Aside from Cats competing here, Jenna Martin will be running for a spot on the Canadian team this weekend. José Acevedo and former Cat Luis Luna likely will run for Venezuela. Mikel Thomas has a shot at competing in the high hurdles for Trinidad and Tobago. Former UK miler David Freeman will represent Puerto Rico.

“I think, the previous (U.S.) trials, we had seven make the qualifying standard, and they were all in the middle-distance events,” Weber said. “So it is encouraging that we are a lot more diverse and well-rounded as a team. We definitely got better this year.

“Our finish at the NCAA meet (ninth for the men) was an indication of that. But I think more of a sure indication of that was the improvement in conference (women fifth, men sixth) and in the region (men fourth).”

UK is scheduled to host the SEC Championships in 2010. For that to happen, work on resurfacing the outdoor track and upgrading spectator areas probably would need to begin in the next school year. UK has not hosted an outdoor collegiate meet for about a decade.

Plans to move the track to an area near Nutter Field House have been scrapped, leaving the facility at its present site. But will the Cats remain nationally competitive?

“You never know what the future holds, but with the new track facility that we're going to get at UK and continued hard work in recruiting, there's no reason why we couldn't do that,” Weber said. “Obviously there are a number of teams in the conference that are regularly contending for our championship and always show up well at the national meet. There's absolutely no reason why we can't be one of them.”

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