Kentucky Sophomore Saunders Claims NCAA Long Jump Bronze Medal
Photo by Chet White/UK Athletics
EUGENE, Ore. – Kentucky sophomore Sha’Keela Saunders (pictured) soared to a lifetime best long jump to claim the NCAA Bronze Medal on Thursday, June 11, in front of 10,015 track and field fans at Hayward Field. Saunders travelled 22-feet,1.75 inches/6.75 meters on her fifth attempt, a mark which took her into second place, although she was later overtaken by Alabama’s Quanesha Burks, who jumped 22’8”/6.91m (+2.7) during the fifth round. Burks’ mark was the eventual winner. Oregon’s Jenna Prandini placed second with a jump of 22’3.75”/6.80m. All three of the top finishers surpassed the 2015 IAAF World Championships standard: 22’1.75”/6.75m. Saunders’ mark broke her previous school record by more than nine inches. The Kentucky women are in a four-way tie for 17th place in the team standings after day one. Six of a possible nine runners entered in Thursday preliminary heats advanced to Saturday finals. The Wildcats will also have Rebecca Famurewa and Madison Jacobs entered in the discus on Saturday.
The women will take Friday to rest as just men’s events will be contested, and then come back on Championship Saturday with only finals being contested. Kendra Harrison advanced as the top qualifier into the finals of both the 100m hurdles and the 400m hurdles. She started the day by running a windy 12.59 (+2.7), which was the seventh-best all-conditions performance in NCAA Championships history. She followed that up on less than an hour’s rest with the top 400m hurdles qualifying time: 55.45. Kentucky had the top two qualifiers in the 400m hurdles as Leah Nugent won her semifinal heat in 56.36. Dezerea Bryant advanced as a high seed out of both the 100m and 200m. She ran a windy 10.99 (breaking 11 seconds in the 100m for the second time in her career, although both times were wind-aided) to enter the final as the second-fastest qualifier. Byrant ran 22.38w (+2.8) to advance to the 200m final as the No. 3 qualifier. Keilah Tyson will join Bryant in the 100m final. She earned her first appearance in an NCAA final with a .024-second personal best of 11.09 (+1.8) in her semifinal heat. Her time was the fifth fastest qualifier.
The Wildcats ran a time initially thought worthy of advancing in the 4x100m relay, but were later shown to have passed the baton outside the final zone and disqualified. Kentucky did not advance from the 4x400m relay semifinals as the team of Jasmine Mitchell, Morganne Phillips, Angelica Whaley and Leah Nugent ran 3:35.47 for 10th place, two spots shy of a lane in the final. Kenyattia Hackworth reached a long-jump mark of 19'2"/5.84m (+2.9) on her third attempt, but that was not enough to advance to the final. She placed 23rd after she fouled her first two attempts, both of which had winds more than 3.0 meters/second, and then took off from well behind the board on her third try. Tyson ran 23.52 (+2.8), and placed seventh in the 200m semifinal heat three. She did not advance and finished 21st overall. The 2015 NCAA Championships have a new schedule with just men’s teams competing on Wednesday and Friday, and just women’s teams in action on Thursday and Saturday. The exceptions were multi-events as the heptathlon and decathlon were contested on Wednesday and Thursday. For the first time ever the entire NCAA Outdoor Championships are being broadcast on the ESPN family of networks. Saturday’s finale will be shown live on ESPN2. The Saturday coverage could include an exciting finish in the women’s team race, which the Wildcats will be hoping to feature heavily in. Points are earned at the NCAA Championships by individuals and relay teams earning top-eight finishes on a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.
ESPN Broadcast Schedule
Friday, June 12: 7:30 p.m.-10 p.m. (ESPN)
7 p.m.-10:15 p.m. (ESPN3)
Saturday, June 13: 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
4:30 p.m.-7:45 p.m. (ESPN3)