… And a clarification
And now …
You’ve got to love how the Kentucky men stepped up to take third place in the team standings. The top five in individual events, as well as the top three relays, automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, June 10-13, at Arkansas.
The 20th-ranked Wildcats have been snake-bitten with injuries for most of the outdoor season, particularly in the sprints.
But there was Rondel Sorrillo, who didn’t even compete outdoors until the Southeastern Conference meet because of injuries, taking third place in the 200 meters and anchoring the second-place 4-by-100-meter relay.
“Better than SEC, but it still hurts,” said Sorrillo, who ran the 200 for Trinidad and Tobago at last summer’s Beijing Olympics — beating eventual gold-medal winner Usain Bolt in the first round. “It hurts, but I’m back.”
“My butt, my hamstrings, my calves,” he said. “Both legs.”
There was Jose Acevedo, who also ran the 200 at Beijing, representing Venezuela.
He ran second on the 4-by-100 relay, then anchored the third-place 4-by-400 relay. That despite a foot injury that, Coach Don Weber said, would have kept a less-determined sprinter out of the meet.
When Justin Austin went down at the Penn Relays, the Cats had to plug holes on both relays.
Also missing was Mikel Thomas, a 2008 Olympian for Trinidad and Tobago in the 110-meter hurdles. He suffered a broken collarbone during practice, a week-and-a-half ago.
Saturday, Kwasi Obeng did the job on the relays, running the third leg on the quick relay and leading off the 4-by-4.
Stephan Smith, a half-miler, filled in on the second leg of the 4-by-4.
“Considering the way we’ve been for most of the outdoor season, especially in our sprint group — hurt and banged up as much as we have been — it’s a great day,” Weber said. “Especially for those guys.”
Now, being off next weekend, the Cats will try to “maintain” fitness and continue the healing process.
“We can get a little bit better,” Weber said, “so that’s encouraging.”
In the 4-by-100, UK led through three legs. Obeng’s handoff to Sorrillo didn’t go too well, though, allowing 100-meter champion Trindon Holliday of LSU to be first out of the final exchange zone.
“Trindon … had the baton first because (Sorrillo) had to wait on Kwasi to get the baton,” said Erin Tucker, UK’s sprints and hurdles coach. “Anytime, the four-by-one, when you have to wait a little bit, you lose that acceleration and then you’ve got to start back up from square one. … You want to get the baton going full speed.”
The good news is that the problem was due in part to Sorrillo accelerating, finally, through the zone. By his own admission, Sorrillo had been deficient in that area during practice. And now Obeng and Sorrillo have nearly two weeks to work on the final exchange.
Tucker said Gordon McKenzie “ran an awesome leadoff leg. … Jose built off it. … Kwasi just looked like a superstar because he’s out in front. And then we had the little thing with Rondel.”
As good as the sprint results were, UK came out best in the weights.
Rashaud Scott, who won the shot put on Friday, added the discus title Saturday. Having successfully defended his regional title, Scott will try to repeat as national champion at Arkansas.
And consider this: all six of his throws Saturday were better than second-place finisher Greg Pilling of Central Michigan.
Pilling threw 197-2, two feet ahead of UK’s Chase Madison.
Madison, a senior who transferred in 2007 from Iowa State, can relate to UK’s sprinters.
At Iowa State, he broke a bone in his left foot. A titanium screw was inserted to fix the bone. It didn’t work.
When he arrived at UK for his entrance physical, “they said, ‘well, you’re either going to have to have another surgery on that thing to fix it because they did it totally incorrect, or you’re never going to throw again,’” Madison said when interviewed before last winter’s SEC Indoor Championships.
He opted for surgery, which involved taking bone from his ankle and grafting the bone to his foot. Oh, and four screws and a plate.
He went from June 2006 until April 2008 without throwing a disc in competition.
Now, he throws in pain. Look at his foot and you can actually see the plate and a screw sticking out from the bone. Pain limits his practice time, but he’s a believer in quality workouts over quantity. When he does throw, he throws with purpose.
Saturday, he said his pain was controlled as well as could be expected: “I had quite a bit of Aleve in me.”
“It’s nice to be back to a national meet. I haven’t been since 2006, since I’ve been hurt,” he said. “It was a decent day, I guess. Could have expected a lot more, could have been a lot worse. So, regroup and get ready for two weeks.”
U of L: A crown of Thorne’s
Louisville’s highlight Saturday came from Corey Thorne, who outkicked Eastern Michigan’s Josh Karanja to win the 3,000-meter steeplechase in a stadium-record 8:36.98. Karanja finished in 8:37.20.
“It’s going to be just like that at nationals,” Thorne said. “Whether it goes fast or slow, it’s going to come down to who has the best kick. So coming out here, it’s kind of like a trial.”
Head coach Ron Mann and distance coach Brice Allen prepared Thorne well.
“One of the things that Coach Allen and I have done over the last 10 days is doing a lot of speed work over the barriers, preparing for that last quarter,” Mann said. “Those barriers come up very quickly and you’ve got to be ready for it. He did a nice job of executing that.”
U of L also had two automatic qualifiers in women’s events.
Tarah McKay ran fourth at 1,500 meters. Jeré Summers, the surprise winner of Friday’s discus, took second in Saturday’s shot put.
McKay, a junior from St. Clements, Ontario, Canada, improved one spot from her regional finish of a year ago.
Summers, a junior from Oakland, Calif., is a two-time Most Outstanding Field Event Performer in the Big East. She transferred to U of L after competing two indoor seasons and one outdoor season at Cal State Northridge.
WKU: Smellie is good
Western Kentucky senior Gavin Smellie won the men’s 200 meters, tying the Cardinal Park record of 20.45 seconds. (Auburn freshman Marcus Rowland was runner-up, followed by Sorrillo. Earlier, Rowland false-started out of the 100 meters, an event in which he was ranked No. 2 in the region and No. 4 in the nation.)
Western’s women placed third in the 4-by-100 relay.
EKU: I go, you go, we all go for Mugo
Regions and records
The Mideast, one of four regionals, is comprised of 167 teams from 12 states (Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin).
Cardinal Park records were set in 22 of Saturday’s 28 events. Two others were tied, and another was negated because it was wind-aided.
UK’s Scott was among five athletes setting regional records, and the only male.
* U.S. Olympic Trials champion Kara Patterson of Purdue, who won javelin for the fourth year in a row, this time at 192-1.
* Two-time defending NCAA champ Tiffany Ofili of Michigan, 12.96 in the 100-meter hurdles.
* Middle Tennessee State’s Sarah Nambawa, ranked second nationally, with a triple jump of 45-9.