Some of the usual suspects provided highlights in Saturday's annual running of the Kentucky Relays.
On a day when the University of Kentucky honored its senior athletes, winners included four-year men Raymond Dykstra in the javelin, Brad Szypka in the shot put, Michael Patterson in the triple jump and Keffri Neal in the mile. Women's winners included seniors Dezerea Bryant in the 200 and Leah Nugent in the 100-meter hurdles.
But there was plenty of young blood that sparkled, too, especially from the nation's fourth-ranked women's team. Freshmen Katy Kunc and Adraiana Brown prevailed in the mile and shot put, respectively, while sophomores Jasmine Mitchell and Dana Pugh ruled in the 400 and 400 hurdles. Another soph, Ariah Graham, captured the 800, and junior Beckie Famurewa swept the discus and hammer throw. Sophomore Justin Kretchmer won the men's high jump.
"People really performed well, and we had some surprises," Wildcats Coach Edrick Floreal said. "Ariah Graham, that's her first 800 ever. I felt like she was going to be good at it. She told me I was crazy, so I guess I'm not crazy. Ran 2:07. ... It's actually really, really good to watch her embrace that aim, the moment, the challenge and respond to it. That's the only way we're going to be any good as a team — people have to step up and embrace challenges and kind of be comfortable being uncomfortable."
Dykstra, the Southeastern Conference defending champion in the javelin, won comfortably even though his distance of 233 feet, 2 inches wasn't a threat to his school-record 257-9.
"To be honest, today wasn't one of the best days," Dykstra said. "But we were working new technical stuff, so with the new technique obviously you're not going to have the greatest throws or days when you're trying to work new things. So I did a lot of some things right, but not the right things quite yet. So now we just know what to work on for the next coming meets and basically prepare for SECs."
Neal was shooting to break the four-minute mile barrier, something he accomplished indoors, but came in Saturday in 4:04.54.
"We had a rabbit, trying to go fast today. and trying to get my teammate Rob (Sandlin) under four minutes," Neal said. "Unfortunately that didn't work out but it turned into a pretty good race at the end. I tried to take it with about 600 to go and try to pick up the pace a little bit. Finishing in 4:04's not bad, but I would have liked to have run a little faster."
Bryant sizzled the 200 in a meet-record 22.97, the nation's sixth-fastest time of the season, leading a 1-2-3 Wildcats finish. Dominique Booker took second, followed by Keilah Tyson. Defending champion Alisha Adair of UK took fifth.
"It's always exciting to be first," Bryant said. "I got out pretty well. I tried to stay as relaxed as possible coming off the turn and then try to bring it home. But I'm a little rusty, so it was a good meet for me."
Earlier, Bryant placed second in a loaded 100-meter field.
Ruddy Zang Milam, a 27-year-old pro from Gabon, won in a meet-record 11.50.
"I feel not really good because I was supposed to get out of the blocks really faster," Zang Milama said. "But I feel after my first 100 (of the season), I just need more races to put everything together."
UK recruit William Williams, competing unattached, won the men's long jump at 26-4¼.
Eastern Kentucky had men's winners in Wade Meddles at 5,000 meters and Jamaine Coleman in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The Colonels also had women's victories in the 5,000 by Anna Reddin, in the steeple by Ciara Scott and in the javelin by Alena Galertova.
Teams scores were kept in the high school division. Tates Creek edged Henry Clay 72-70 for boys' honors, while the Bryan Station girls totaled 68 to 49 for runners-up Tates Creek and Henry Clay.
Benjamin Young led the Tates Creek boys, winning the mile in 4:18.20.
Bryan Station's girls won two relays and had Brooke Raglin place first in the 100, timed in 12.38.
Also among the high school winners was Henry Clay junior Jaron Brooks, the national indoor high-jump champion. He cleared a meet-record 6-10, then barely missed on his third and final attempt at 7-0.
"Tight, I guess. I should have had that seven right there," Brooks said. "Just my thigh nicked it off. It sucked."
Brooks also won the long jump with a leap of 22-3½ .