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Track and field: UK takes three wins on home turf

Kentucky's Cally Macumber stalked the competition only to pull away at the end and win the mile in the Kentucky Invitational. Both her foes were past NCAA champions at 800 meters.
Kentucky's Cally Macumber stalked the competition only to pull away at the end and win the mile in the Kentucky Invitational. Both her foes were past NCAA champions at 800 meters. Herald-Leader

Saturday's Kentucky Invitational was supposed to be a low-key measuring stick, a way to show first-year coach Edrick Floreal how well his track and field athletes maintained fitness over the Christmas break.

There was nothing low key about the women's mile, though, where Kentucky's Cally Macumber locked horns with Phoebe Wright and Chanelle Price.

Both former Tennessee All-Americans are past NCAA champions at 800 meters.

Macumber let her two better-known competitors do the work until the bell lap, then simply ran away to victory.

"My coach (Hakan DeVries, UK distances) said to just stay behind them and, last 800, try to pull away, so that's what I tried to do," said Macumber, timed in 4 minutes, 42.34 seconds.

"I actually would have liked to have run a little bit faster but it's just how the race played out, I guess," Macumber said. "But I'm definitely happy with it and ready for the next race."

Wright held on for second in 4:45.94, followed by Price 4:47.33.

Macumber was among three winners for Floreal in his first home meet as coach of the Wildcats.

Brad Szypka dominated the shot put with a personal best of 60 feet, 3 inches. Darryl Bradshaw won the 60-meter hurdles in 8.07.

Then there was Eastern Kentucky's Thijs Nijhuis in the men's mile.

At 19, the Dane made his debut at the distance a winning one in 4:11.90. Louisville's Andrew Stewart was runner-up in 4:12.84.

"Actually, I just got into training like five, six days ago," Nijhuis said. "I haven't done anything, so I'm really happy with it."

Nijhuis took time off after placing 32nd in last month's U-23 European Cross Country Championships. When he resumed training, he went out for a night run and banged his knee on a steel pole. Consequently, his training resumed only last week, in Denmark.

Sayre graduate Ann Eason highlighted the EKU women's efforts. She placed second, and was the first collegiate finisher, in the 3,000. Samantha Hamilton won in 9:37.53, followed by Eason in 9:39.29.

As for Szypka, he had the shot put title wrapped up when he stepped into the ring for the final throw of the competition, leading at 58-8½ .

He finished big, uncorking a personal best of 60-3. Isaiah Simmons of Miami (Fla.) was second with a 58-7½ on the second-to-last throw of the day.

"He didn't catch me, but he was close enough to motivate me," Szypka said. "I don't want to win by an inch. Yeah, that's winning, but it doesn't say much to me.

"So last throw, just go all out, get out over that board and work what we've been working on all week. The first meet back, try to set a standard for the rest of the year. It was a great meet. Very consistent. That's what I want, and that's what makes for big throws. Today was a good indicator of that. All my throws were 58, around there, and finally on the last one popped one at 60 feet."

Bradshaw, an academic senior in his junior year of competition, was smooth in the early going of the hurdles. He won in 8.07, a tenth of a second ahead of Tennessee's Terry Benson.

"Coming out of the blocks I felt pretty good. Going into the third (hurdle), I felt well," Bradshaw said. "But fatigue set in around the fourth and fifth hurdle, so that prevented me from running a faster time — which I wanted. But I'm happy with the win.

"I was looking for a 7.88, 7.80. Something a little lower. Because to qualify for nationals you've got hit around 7.79. That's my ultimate goal is to go to nationals."

Central Florida senior Lutisha Bowen won the women's 60-meter hurdles in 8.36, two-tenths better than Miami's Nicole Cummings.

A former state high school champion for Ballard, Bowen is a transfer from EKU. Her parents, grandparents and brother were on hand Saturday, "so I was pretty excited about that," she said.

"I'm satisfied. It was a PR (personal record) for me and it wasn't that far off of the national qualifying mark, so I'm really excited about it," Bowen said. "I know that next time I can do better."

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