Kentucky Sweeps Men’s & Women’s Regional Runners of Year, Asst. Coach Award
Head coach Edrick Floréal was named Southeast Region Women’s Coach of the Year, Matt Hillenbrand and Dezerea Bryant earned Men’s and Women’s Region Runner of the Year respectively and Tim Hall claimed Region Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year.
Floréal, in his second year in charge at Kentucky, has led UK to a school-record No. 6 ranking entering the NCAA Championships. The squad finished fourth at the Southeastern Conference meet with Bryant and Harrison claiming the conference championships in the 60 meters and 60m hurdles respectively. Both of those athletes hold No. 1 national seeds heading into the NCAA Championships.
Hillenbrand has emerged as an elite distance runner as a senior, as he was the only man at the SEC Championships to win two individual championships, claiming the 3k and Mile Championships to earn SEC Cliff Harper Trophy as co-high scorer at the meet.
He broke the UK mile-record with a fourth-ranked 3:57.00, and ran a season-best 7:59.55 over 3000 meters, and will compete in the mile at the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships.
Bryant was undefeated in five 60 meters competitions, including the SEC Championship and Tyson Invitational. She became the first person in school history to win an SEC 60 meters crown, tying her own collegiate-leading time of 7.16. She also ranks second in the world and among collegians at 200 meters this season with a school-record 22.75 runner-up finish at the SEC Championships. The Bowerman Watch List member will contest both the 60 and 200 meters at the Division I Indoor Championships, along with the 4×400 relay.
Hall, in his first year at Kentucky, coached Dezerea Bryant to a collegiate-leading time at 60 meters of 7.16. Bryant is also ranked second in the 200 meters with her 22.75. Both performances are just outside the all-time collegiate top ten. In addition to Bryant, Hall has guided the 4×400 relay squad to a No. 5 seed with a 3:33.35 best this season, having come in a win at the Rod McCravy Memorial over the defending national-champions in the event, Oregon.
The honors come just days after the Wildcats also made a strong showing on the All-SEC teams. UK finished with five First Team All-SEC selections, four Second Team All-SEC honorees and four SEC All-Freshman Team members.
Bryant, Hillenbrand and Harrison were joined as First Team selections by UK’s other SEC Champions, Bradley Szypka and Keffri Neal.
Ibn Short was a Second Team selection in addition to making the All-Freshman team as he won the Silver Medal and was the top freshman finisher in the heptathlon.
Adam Kahleifeh was named Second-Team All-SEC as he was runner-up to Hillenbrand in the conference 3k. Kayla Parker and Allison Peare also earned Second-Team All-SEC honors by virtue of their Bronze Medal performances in the 60m hurdles and mile respectively.
Sha’Keela Saunders (long jump), Charles Moushey (pole vault) and Madison Jacobs (shot put)all earned All-Freshman team spots as they were the top first-year finishers in their events.