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UK’s Sha’Keela Saunders named to Bowerman Award list

University of Kentucky senior Sha’Keela Saunders warmed up during track and field practice at Nutter Field House in January. Saunders is considered one of the top 10 track and field talents in the country.
University of Kentucky senior Sha’Keela Saunders warmed up during track and field practice at Nutter Field House in January. Saunders is considered one of the top 10 track and field talents in the country. palcala@herald-leader.com

University of Kentucky track and field standout Sha’Keela Saunders was added to the women’s Bowerman Award watch list for March, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced.

The Bowerman is awarded to the nation’s top collegiate track and field athlete.

Saunders, a senior from Suffolk, Va., was added to the national list of 10 women after she won the Southeastern Conference long jump championship last weekend. Her leap of 22 feet, 4.5 inches was the sixth-best indoor mark in collegiate history.

“This long jump competition gets harder every year,” Saunders said last weekend. “I can honestly say my competitors have made me better. We can never get comfortable, and nothing is ever easy in this league. I’m so grateful to be in a conference that forces us to achieve greatness.”

Saunders finished fourth in the long jump at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

UK’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn was among those receiving votes on this month’s watch list.

Saunders and Camacho-Quinn have each qualified in two events at next week’s NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas. Saunders will compete in the long jump and triple jump. Camacho-Quinn will race in the 60-meter hurdles and 200 meters.

UK will send 12 entries — 10 women’s and two men’s — to the Indoors at Texas A&M’s Gilliam Indoor Stadium.

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