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Arkansas' record-setting pole vaulter wins at UK Invitational

Kentucky junior Shelby Kennard placed sixth in the pole vault Friday in the University of Kentucky Invitational, clearing 12 feet, 81/4 inches. She narrowly missed at a school-record 13-21/4.
Kentucky junior Shelby Kennard placed sixth in the pole vault Friday in the University of Kentucky Invitational, clearing 12 feet, 81/4 inches. She narrowly missed at a school-record 13-21/4. Lexington Herald-Leader

With collegiate record-holder Tina Sutej in the house Friday, the women's pole vault figured to be an event to watch.

The Arkansas senior didn't disappoint as the Kentucky Invitational track and field meet got under way: She cleared 14 feet, 3¼ inches.

"It's all right, because it's my first meet of the season and we kind of train through this meet, so I wasn't really fresh," said Sutej, who set collegiate records of 14-10¾ indoors and 15-1½ outdoors last year. "I could have done better. But I'm not upset, because the season's long and I can improve a lot of things."

Sutej had a go at the Nutter Field House record of 14-5¼, missing three times at 14-5½ .

"I was sure I was going to jump it today, but something just didn't click," Sutej said. "I didn't connect with the pole. ... I'm sure next time, at SECs, I can break that record."

UK will host the SEC Championships, Feb. 24 to 26.

The vault also turned out to be an intriguing event for Wildcat watchers.

UK junior Shelby Kennard placed sixth, clearing 12-8¼, then she gave a good run at a school-record 13-2¼.

UK senior Samantha Stenzel didn't fare as well, clearing 11-8½ . Wildcat sophomore Michelle Canterna, a state long-jump champion for Cooper High, topped 11-2½ in her first try at the vault.

"Shelby Kennard had a good start in the pole vault, but Michelle Canterna, ... I was impressed by that," UK Coach Don Weber said.

UK's next-best showing came in the only running event of the night, a men's 4-by-800 relay that amounted to a glorified practice.

A group of unattached Wildcats won in 7 minutes, 39.13 seconds. UK's foursome of Adam Kahleifeh, Keffri Neal, Robbie Scharold and Sean Keane ran 7:41.68, finishing more than 14 seconds ahead of the only other entrant, Miami (Fla.).

"I thought we'd run faster than this, but none of them ran very fast on the first lap," Weber said. "I think tomorrow will tell the story on where some of these guys are."

Louisville had three winners: Michael Edwards, 7 feet, 1/4 inch in the men's high jump; Amashi-Ali Kendall, 63 feet, 10¼ inches in the women's weight throw; and Charachesicia Lockhart, 20 feet, 1 inch in the women's long jump.

"I wish I could have executed a little bit better," said Edwards, a 6-foot-6 junior from Manchester, England. "But to get the win, I'm happy with that."

Edwards cleared a personal-best 7-2½ a week ago.

Jake Jacoby, U of L's jumps coach, said Edwards has plenty of upside.

"We've been working on being patient over the top of the bar," said Jacoby, who topped 7-7¼ in his competitive days. "Approach looked great. I thought he had plenty of height, and just trying to get over the bar too fast. He needs to relax a little bit, let that take care of itself and just go for the ride."

How high can he ride?

"I thought he'd jump 7-4 tonight," Jacoby said. "So he's definitely capable of it. He's got some big jumps in him."

Other winners included former Tennessee standout Garland Porter, 73-2¾ in the men's weight throw, and Vols senior Desmond Brown, 24-4¼ in the men's long jump.

Saturday's final round of competition begins at 10:30 a.m. with the women's high jump and triple jump. The first running event of the day will be the women's 60-meter hurdles semifinals, at 12:30 p.m. The final event, the men's 4-by-400 relay, is scheduled at 5:05 p.m.

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