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Luis Orta Qualifies for National Championships in Steeplechase | Kentucky

Junior distance runner clocks career-best time en route to earning championships bid


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – University of Kentucky junior distance runner Luis Orta has had a fantastic 2011-12 campaign. After Friday evening’s performance in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, that fantastic year will continue on to Des Moines, Iowa, home of the NCAA Outdoor National Track & Field Championships, from June 6-9.


Orta qualified for the 3,000m steeplechase on a gorgeous Friday evening at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., behind a career-best time of 8:44.25, the second-fastest 3,000m steeplechase in Kentucky history.


The top-three times in each of the three heats of the event automatically qualify for the national championships, with the next three fastest times overall also qualifying for the championships. Orta ran in the top five for much of the race, and entered the bell lap in third. The Caracas, Venezuela, native was passed at the end of the race to finish fourth, but by having the second-fastest non-automatic qualifying time, the Second Team All-Southeastern Conference performer advanced to the national championships.


Also on Friday, Keilah Tyson, an All-Southeastern Conference Freshman Team selection in both the 100m and 200m, finished 15th in the east preliminary finals of the 100m after clocking a time of 11.55. Tyson missed out on a bid to the national championships in the event by 0.06 seconds. Tyson advanced to the east preliminary finals after finishing the third in her heat Thursday with a time of 11.57.


Tyson had a fantastic rookie year overall, recording the indoor and outdoor UK freshman records in the 100m and 200m. Tyson also ranks in the top three of each of the four events on UK’s all-time lists.


Senior Terri-Ann Grant finished in a tie for 16th in the women’s high jump with a mark of 5-09.75/1.77m. Grant cleared the opening height of 5-05.75 on her first attempt, before taking three jumps to clear 5-07.75. Grant eclipsed the third height progression of 5-09.75 on her second attempt before bowing out at 5-11.25, which would have tied her season- and career-best. Grant ends her UK career with the second-best high jump mark in school history, eclipsing 5-11.25 at the Texas Relays this year.


The final day of competition at the NCAA East Preliminary will feature Kentucky’s 4x100m relay team at 6:15 p.m. ET on Saturday. Kentucky’s 4x100m team will comprise of freshman Tamyah Pipkin, junior Shiara Robinson, sophomore Julie Nunn and sophomore Kayla Parker.


In outdoor track and field, the country is divided into two regions, the east and west. The top 48 individuals of each event from each region, excluding the heptathlon and decathlon, qualified for the preliminary round, while the top 24 relay teams from each region qualified for the preliminaries. In the preliminaries, the top-12 finishers from each event qualify for the NCAA Outdoor National Championships, held this year in Des Moines, Iowa, from June 6-9.


The Wildcats sent a pair of throwers to the NCAA National Championships on Thursday when freshman Raymond Dykstra and sophomore Andrew Evans advanced in the javelin and discus, respectively. Dykstra threw a mark of 222-09/67.91m in the javelin, and Evans threw 182-07-55.67m in the discus. Both Dykstra and Evans finished eighth in their respective events.


A complete list of results for Kentucky’s student-athletes is listed below, as well as the Kentucky competition lineup for Saturday. Live results of the meet will be available each day at


For all Kentucky track and field news and information, including a recap from the final day of the NCAA East Preliminary, follow the men’s and women’s teams on Twitter at “KentuckyTrack” and go to


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