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Track and field season kicks off with UK Invitational

Sharika Smith said she was merely going with the flow.

Such was her winning strategy Friday in the women's triple jump, part of the season-opening Kentucky Invitational indoor track and field meet in Nutter Field House.

"Came out of nowhere," Smith, a Western Kentucky junior, said of her first-attempt distance of 42 feet, 31/2 inches. "I wasn't thinking about it. When I think about it, that's when I don't do good. If I don't think about it, just go with the flow, then it just happens."

Smith, a former state high school champion from Fulton County, will compete in the long jump, 60 meters and 4-by-400 relay when the meet winds up Saturday. The 15-meet competition will resume with field events at 10:30 a.m., with the first running event scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

Former Tennessee standout Garland Porter, competing unattached, shattered the Nutter record by reaching a personal-best 78-73/4 in the 35-pound weight throw. Porter, who placed third in the 2005 NCAA Championships, improved on the mark of 77-21/2 set by Ohio State alumnus Dan Taylor in 2005.

Four of Porter's six throws exceeded 23 meters (75-51/2). His winner, 23.97 meters, came on his fourth try and bounced over the protective wall that is more than 80 feet from the throwing ring.

"It was pretty cool," said Porter, a 6-foot-3 270-pounder who ranked fifth among U.S. hammer throwers last year. "I kind of wanted to hit the barrier. I think that would have been even cooler."

Women's 20-pound throw winner D'Ana McCarty, a Louisville senior, won by 4 feet with an NCAA automatic qualifier of 69-31/4.

Kenta Bell, the third-ranked triple jumper in the country last season, won his specialty at 51-03/4. Middle Tennessee's Josh Butler edged UK's Keenan Hall by 4 inches for second place at 50-6.

Georgia Tech senior Joanna Wright won the women's pole vault in a four-way jump-off. Wright, UK teammates Samantha Stenzel and Shelby Kennard, and Vanderbilt's Katherine Hendricks all cleared 12-11/2, then missed at 12-71/2.

"Overall, we both did really well," Stenzel said, including Kennard. "It being the first meet of the season, we were able to get the jitters out. Most importantly that we made everything on first attempt, because that's what helps in the end with scoring."

The 1-2-3 finishers in the men's high jump all cleared 7-01/4. Alabama's Tyler Campbell and Jonathan Reid went 1-2, followed by Louisville senior Neil Angermeier.

"I felt a lot better in competition than I did in warm ups," Angermeier said. "Everything seemed to come together pretty well."

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