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Kentucky freshman wins NCAA championship, coach says she can be track ‘megastar’

Kentucky's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn reacts after winning the women's 100-meter hurdles at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, June 11, 2016.
Kentucky's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn reacts after winning the women's 100-meter hurdles at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, June 11, 2016. AP

Kentucky’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn became the first freshman in history to win the NCAA 100-meter hurdles championship, leading the Wildcats to an 11th-place finish with 25 points at Eugene, Ore., on Saturday.

Arkansas won the NCAA title with 72 points.

“I honestly didn’t know I was the first freshman to win the 100-meter hurdles,” Camacho-Quinn said. “It’s a great feeling, I’m very excited. It’s a hurdle race so you never know what can happen, but I just tried to stay confident throughout the race.”

Camacho-Quinn totaled a team-high 12 points for the meet as she scored 10 in the hurdles, one with an eighth-place finish in the 200 and a one-point share of the four points Kentucky’s fifth-place 4-by-100 relay scored by running the second leg.

View the final meet results

Five of Kentucky’s six scoring opportunities on Saturday earned points, but 18 of the Wildcats’ 25 points came from two medal finishes in the two hurdles races. Additionally, UK scored four with a fifth-place finish in the 4-by-100 relay.

“I think we had some people step up and perform well, we’ve just got to get better overall,” Kentucky Coach Edrick Floréal said of his second-ranked women’s team. “Nationals is really tough — the level of competition. We’ve got to find a way to perform better and keep ourselves calmer.

“As the head coach I’ve got to take it on the chin. I’ve got to find a way to get my team better and make some adjustments so that we can perform up to the level expected of us.”

I honestly didn’t know I was the first freshman to win the 100-meter hurdles. It’s a great feeling, I’m very excited. It’s a hurdle race so you never know what can happen, but I just tried to stay confident throughout the race.

Jasmine Camacho-Quinn

Camacho-Quinn won the short hurdles in a wind-aided :12.54, which equaled the fifth-best time in NCAA-Championships history in all-conditions. The freshman seemed to get off to a slow start, but made up ground as the race progressed surging into the lead over the last few hurdles and holding on to win across the finish line.

A UK athlete won the NCAA 100-meter hurdles for the second year in a row as Kendra Harrison won last season in :12.55. UK became the first school have back-to-back 100 hurdles titles since Michigan (2008, 2009).

“Jasmine is a first team All-American in three events at her first NCAA Championships ever,” Floréal said. “That goes a long way, and people are going to hate me for saying this but she’s nowhere near scratching the surface. She’s much more gifted than that.

“She can be a megastar in track and field. There aren’t many freshman out there in the 4-by-100-meter relay and 100-meter hurdles final and coming back in the 200 meters. I’m just proud of her. I’m just proud of the effort she put out. Some of the credit goes to Keni Harrison. She trains with these women, and flew back from Europe to be with the team and spend some time to help them deal with some of the nerves, etc. She probably spent more time with the girls than me in counseling to make sure they were fired up. I appreciate her connection with the girls and commitment for the team.”

Junior Kiah Seymour claimed silver in the 400 hurdles, running a lifetime best :54.67 to score eight points.

“You look at Kiah Seymour,” Floréal said. “It hadn’t been the year I expected, but then she came out with a huge PR (personal record) and taking second from lane eight. Lane eight is a difficult one to run out of, especially in that event.”

As the head coach I’ve got to take it on the chin. I’ve got to find a way to get my team better and make some adjustments so that we can perform up to the level expected of us.

Edrick Floreal

UK’s 4-by-100 relay of Javianne Oliver, Camacho-Quinn, Destiny Carter and Kianna Gray began the day by placing fifth in a season-best :43.02 to score four points. UK made the NCAA 4-by-100 finals for the first time since 1996.

Freshman Kianna Gray placed seventh in her first NCAA 100 meters finals, running :11.24 to score two points.

Camacho-Quinn ran :23.07 to place eighth and earn a point in the 200.

Sha’Keela Saunders placed just outside the scoring in the triple jump, reaching a ninth-place mark of 43 feet, 4.25 inches.

Kentucky placed in the top 15 of the women’s team race for the third year in a row. The Kentucky women’s team’s NCAA record finish came a year ago when the Wildcats finished as national runner-up with 50 points. UK placed seventh with 26 points in 2014 after not scoring at the NCAA Outdoors in 2012 and 2013.

The UK men’s team finished 22nd Friday with 11 points.

“On the guys’ side we made some huge improvements,” Floréal said. “Twenty-second is not what our goal is, but Jacob Thomson coming out there as a first-year transfer and scoring and also Nick Anderson getting second in the 110-meter hurdles was huge.

“Eight points in this competition goes a long way. I couldn’t be prouder of Nick and Jacob for putting some points on the board.”

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