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Bryant sets 2 school records in UK debut

UK's Dezerea Bryant set a school record in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.19 seconds. She also set a record in the 200.
UK's Dezerea Bryant set a school record in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.19 seconds. She also set a record in the 200. Herald-Leader

Two individual races, two school records and two national-leading times.

That's what Dezerea Bryant produced Saturday in her first track and field meet wearing Kentucky blue.

Bryant, a junior transfer, overwhelmed her Kentucky Invitational competition in Nutter Field House.

A nine-time All-American and nine-time Atlantic Coast Conference champion in two seasons, Bryant changed schools when her sprints coach at Clemson, Tim Hall, became sprints and hurdles coach at UK.

A difficult decision?

"Not at all," Bryant said. "I have to stay with my coach."

Saturday, Bryant began her day by zipping to a school-record 7.19-second victory in the 60-meter dash.

"A lot of anxiety," she said after her debut race. "Now I can relax.

"I felt fine, but my block kind of slipped back. So I could have got a lot more out of that. Other than that, I felt fine."

Bryant later set a school record of 23.04 in the 200. As was her time in the 60, her 200 is the fastest in the nation this season.

"I was pretty happy with my 200," she said. "But I think both of them were pretty good."

For good measure, she also ran a leg on UK's second-placed "B" team in the 4-by-400 relay.

Competition will be considerably tougher next weekend, when UK hosts the Rod McCravy Memorial meet.

"I think that we'll be ready for next week," Bryant said. "It's going to be more competitive, but we will be ready. I think that we've got confidence now. We've always had confidence, but it's even higher, so I think we're going to do really well."

Other UK winners included Keffri Neal in the men's mile (4:04.04), Brad Szypka in the shot put (61-7½ ) and Kendra Harrison in the women's 400 (54.59). Harrison also ran on the winning 4-by-400 relay and set a school record in the 60-meter hurdles, clocking 8.09 in preliminaries. She took third in the finals.

Former Wildcat Keith Hayes, competing unattached, snared the men's 60-meter hurdles (7.82).

Neal, a junior, knocked roughly eight seconds off his previous indoor best, set when he was a freshman. Running slightly off the pace, he kicked to the front with little less than a lap left.

"My plan was to stick near the front of the group and, with one lap to go, try to kick it ahead if I wasn't already at the front," he said. "And try to win, and get a PR in the process."

Neal, who has run 4:06 outdoors, is eager to see what he can do when he peaks.

"We've been training hard all fall and winter, so it's good to see results this early in the year, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the indoor season to see what I can do," he said. "Running 4:04 this early felt pretty good actually. Get in a race with a lot of fast guys could help me get under four (minutes) possibly. ... I think every middle-distance runner has a goal of breaking four minutes in the mile sometime."

Edrick Floreal, coach of the Wildcats, gave one thumb up to his team's effort.

"I think we did better," he said. "I think the overall goal is always to get better. I still feel like we left a lot on the table, and that's always a difficulty in how to evaluate how much better you could have gotten.

"Sometimes you've just got to take it as it comes, but that's not my nature. I just think we've got a much better team than even what people see today."

■ Western Kentucky's Cyrus Johnson (47-1½ ) and Vantavius Sears (46-10¾) placed 1-2 in the men's triple jump.

Shorter's Kirk Wilson was the men's only double winner, sweeping the 60 (6.82) and 200 (21.53).

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