LEXINGTON, Ky. – Andrew Evans captured the Southeastern Conference Discus Gold Medal gold and 10 points for the Kentucky track & field team Saturday evening on the third day of the 2014 SEC Championships, hosted by UK.
Evans’ fifth throw proved to clinch gold for the senior from Portage, Mich., as his mark of 64.09 meters/210-feet and 3 inches was just over a foot farther than Alabama’s silver medalist Hayden Reed (63.74 meters/209-feet and 1 inch).
Evans won the second SEC Discus Title of his career (2012), and the sixth conference discus championship by a Wildcat from the last seven years.
Evans entered the day as the nation-leader in the event having tossed the fifth best throw in collegiate history two weeks ago (66.37m/217' 9"). The mark set up a SEC Discus Competition that was the marquee event on a day with mostly preliminary races on the track.
Three of the four highest ranked throwers in the country were in the field.
Despite struggling on his first few attempts, Evans best lived up to the event’s blue-blood reputation.
“When you throw 217 feet, it’s not that throw that’s the good one,” head coach Edrick Floréal said. “The most difficult throw is the one after that. It’s the meet after that 217. Now everybody expects you to do it. It’s different when you go out there, you catch it and it’s a magical moment.
“And those magical moments are awesome. But you gotta come back from that magical moment and execute and do it again. You have to be able to when people expect you to do it. I’m really happy that Andrew was able to get it done with all the pressure. Everybody that was over there, they expected one thing: Andrew Evans to win the discus. And he fought off the demons and delivered the goods in a big way.”
Mackay Wilson wrapped up competition in the final event of the day, the 3,000 meter steeplechase. Wilson finished in fourth place with a time of 9:00.39, tacking on five points for the men.
Through three days of events the UK men’s team is in fifth place in the overall team standings with 21 points. Georgia leads with 52 points, while Arkansas is in second with 27 points.
Kentucky’s women’s team is in eighth position of the overall team standings with 13 points. Georgia leads with 54.50 points and Arkansas is in second with 51.50 points.
“I didn’t think we particularly started with that zeal and fire that we did yesterday, but Andrew picked it up really, really nicely,” Floréal. “At one point there he was kind of down on himself. Things were not coming together. But a swift kick in the butt and then he rose up. He was back to his old self, taking care of business. I think the crowd helped a little bit more today. It’d be great to see the stands completely full. Home-field advantage is much better when you got a lot (more) people cheering for you than the other team has. I’m hoping for a little bit more of that tomorrow.
“We got a lot people in the finals, but those are just point opportunities. You’ve still got to cash in on those points and so we’re going to have a little chat and rally ourselves together.”
The Wildcats had entries in six (four women, two men) of the preliminary heats on Saturday and advanced athletes from four of them.
Dezerea Bryant automatically qualified for the finals of 100 meter dash after winning her heat with a time of 11.37. Joining Bryant in the 100 meter finals is Keilah Tyson after winning heat 1 with a time of 11.40. Both also qualified for Sunday’s 200m final alongside Dominique Booker on Friday.
Allison Peare won her heat in the 1,500 meter with a season-best time of 4:20.82 to automatically advance to Sunday’s finals. She will double up on Sunday as she was the top qualifier into the 800m final.
Matt Hillenbrand edged out a win in the 1,500 meter prelims to advance to the finals on Sunday with a time of 3:56.66.
Keffri Neal was the top qualifier in the 1,500 meter qualifiers after posting a time of 3:50.62 to advance to the finals. Neal is in the finals for the 1,500 meter and 800 meter.
Kayla Parker ran a 0.12-second all-conditions PR of 13:02 (+2.0) to qualify automatically for Sunday’s 100 meter hurdles final. Kendra Harrison ran her wind-legal season-best time of 12.89 (+0.4) to also qualify automatically for the 100 meter hurdles final.
Nick Anderson won heat 1 of the 110 meter hurdles prelim to advance to his first SEC final with a time of 13.92 (+2.4).
Michelle Canterna placed 13th in the pole vault after clearing 3.85m/12-7 ½.
The final day of the 2014 SEC Outdoor Championships begins at 11 a.m. ET at the Kentucky Track and Field Complex.
Tickets can be purchased from the UK ticket office at the gate, by calling (859) 257-1818 or on www.UKAthletics.com. Single-session passes are $10 for adults and $5 for youth and seniors.
Live coverage of the meet will be broadcast on ESPN3.com on Saturday and Sunday. The coverage will air from 1:50 p.m. ET-5:50 p.m. ET on Sunday, including the trophy presentations. ESPNU will air the 2014 SEC Outdoor Championships as part of a two-hour show on ESPNU on Thursday, May 22 beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The broadcast talent includes Dwight Stones (play-by-play), Larry Rawson (analyst) and Lewis Johnson (reporter).
Live results for the 2014 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championship will be available at: www.UKathletics.com/SECtrack.
Men’s Team Standings (through 6 of 21 events)
1. Georgia (52); 2. Arkansas (51); 3. Alabama (29); 4. Texas A&M (25); 5. Kentucky (21); T6. Florida (11); T6. Ole Miss (11); 8. Auburn (10); 9. LSU (6); T10. Missouri (5); T10. South Carolina (5); T10. Tennessee (5); 13. Mississippi State (3).
Women’s Team Standings (through 9 of 21 events)
1. Arkansas (77); 2. Georgia (54.50); 3. Missouri (51); 4. Florida (39.50); 5. LSU (29.50); 6. Mississippi State (18); 7. Auburn (14); 8. South Carolina (13.50); 9. Kentucky (13); T10. Vanderbilt (11); T10. Texas A&M (11); 12. Alabama (10); 13. Tennessee (6); 14. Ole Miss (3).