DES MOINES, Iowa — It was a record-setting day for the Kentucky men's track and field team led by the veteran 4-by-400-meter relay squad at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Drake University Saturday. UK's ninth place was a school best for the outdoors, and its 25 points marked a program-best total.
The relay team broke the school varsity record by almost a second in the meet's final event. The Cats finished third in 3 minutes, two seconds, beating the 2006 record of 3:02.97.
Seniors Nathan Browning and Justin Harrison along with junior Jose Acevedo were on both record teams while sophomore Kwasi Obeng joined the veterans on this year's squad, replacing departed senior Luis Luna. The Cats' time ranks third in the nation this year.
Baylor, undefeated in 28 straight races, had the lead going into the final exchange Saturday, and Acevedo took the baton from Obeng and passed the A&M runner in the first 200 meters. In the final 200 Acevedo battled the Aggie anchor down the straightaway but was edged out at the line.
”To think we could have run this fast and place third without Luis Luna makes you believe anything is possible in track and field,“ said UK sprints coach Erin Tucker. ”We replaced Luna, one of the most respected guys in the country, with a relatively unknown guy in Obeng, who probably has one of the biggest hearts I have ever seen. My two seniors, Browning and Harrison, stepped up big in the first two legs to put us in a position to be successful. Jose took over in the end and brought us home. I could not have asked for anything better.“
The Cats finished behind fellow Southeastern Conference squads Louisiana State and Auburn (tied for second), which trailed champion Florida State.
”It's very satisfying to finish in the top-10 in the country,“ said UK head coach Don Weber. ”To have athletes come through the way they did shows the progress of our program, and it extends beyond just the people who competed here. I am especially pleased.“
Junior Rashaud Scott became a two-time championship scorer after placing eighth in the men's shot put with a throw of 60 feet, 1/4 inches. Scott won the men's discus finals Friday.
Senior Andy Fryman finished eighth in the men's hammer throw after placing 10th in the discus Friday. Fryman's personal-best hammer throw toss of 216-8 on his third attempt ranks second all-time at UK. The two veterans' eighth-place finishes added two points to the Cats' total.
In the women's heptathlon, rookie Danielle Sampley finished 21st overall as the second-ranked freshman in the nation totaled 4,463 points in her first Outdoor Championship appearance.
Sampley finished with a strong final day in the long jump and ran a personal record time in the 800 meters. The Wildcat finished seventh in the long jump with a leap of 19-8. Later, Sampley placed eighth in the 800-meter run with a personal-best time of 2:21.51.
LSU won the women's title by beating Arizona State in the women's 400-meter relay, the meet's final event.