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UK women’s basketball starts practice

The UK women’s basketball team started practice today, giving us another sign that the fun sports are on the way and we’ll get through this summer soon enough.

The Cats finished 15-17 last season but 2018-2019 looks much brighter. UK will return 11 players on last season’s team, including Ogechi Anyagaligbo who was injured last season. Anyagaligbo was named Rookie of the Year in the American East Conference after averaging 10.1 points and nine rebounds per game for Stony Brook during the 2015-2016 season.

Kentucky will return 80 percent of its scoring, 74 percent of its rebounding and 80 percent of its assists. Sounds good, but that’s not all.

UK adds Rhyne Howard and Blair Green. The two freshman were high school stars with Howard being named Miss Basketball of Tennessee. Green was named First Team All-State in Kentucky. Howard leaves for USA Basketball this weekend.

But hold the phone. We’re not done yet.

The Cats will also get a preseason exhibition trip to Italy. John Calipari and his squad heads to the Bahamas, Matthew Mitchell’s team will go to Rome, Florence and Venice. We all know how beneficial those summer trips can be so it’s a nice added bonus for both teams.

UK will practice again Saturday and Sunday and the season opener on Nov. 7th will be here before we know it.

 


Rachel Lawson among UK coaches to sign extensions

Rachel Lawson among UK coaches to sign extensions

Photo by UK Athletics

Kentucky softball coach Rachel Lawson has been mentioned as a candidate for several high-profile jobs recently, which is why the news I’m about to share is so great. UK just announced that Lawson signed a contract extension to stay at Kentucky through the 2022-23 season. Rifle coach Harry Mullins, volleyball coach Craig Skinner, and swimming and diving coach Lars Jorgensen also signed extensions.

“Rachel has taken our softball program to places we have never been before,” UK Athletics Director Barnhart said. “Not only have her teams reached the Women’s College World Series and become contenders on an annual basis, but she has also created a culture that enables success in all facets of life, both during and after the time her student-athletes play for her. We are proud to have her leading our softball program and look forward to the championship moments we will celebrate together.”

Two-time SEC Coach of the Year Craig Skinner extended his contract through the 2022-23 season after leading the volleyball team to its first SEC regular-season championship since 1988 and first Elite Eight in the modern era of the NCAA Tournament in 2017. Swimming and diving coach Lars Jorgensen’s new agreement will also keep him at Kentucky through the end of the 2022-23 season. UK is in the midst of a streak of five consecutive top-25 NCAA team finishes, including back-to-back 14th-place finishes over the last two seasons. After winning his second national championship at Kentucky earlier this year, rifle coach Harry Mullins has agreed to stay at Kentucky through the 2021-22 season. The four-time Great American Rifle Coach of the Year is the longest-tenured UK head coach, having just completed his 31st season.

“I continue to believe that our group of head coaches is the best in America,” Barnhart said. “Ensuring that Harry, Craig, Rachel and Lars will stay at Kentucky for years to come is vital to the success of both the teams they lead and our department as a whole. I’m excited to continue working with them and all of our outstanding coaches.”


Kentucky hires Lonnie Greene as Track and Field coach

Kentucky hires Lonnie Greene as Track and Field coach

After losing Edrick Floreal to Texas last month, UK has hired a new track and field coach. Lonnie Greene will take over at Kentucky after six seasons at Purdue, in which he built the Boilermakers into a national power.

“Lonnie is a quality person who shares our commitment to fostering growth and continuing to build our track and field and cross country programs in all facets,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “I had the pleasure of watching him and his team in person last month at nationals and was so impressed by the energy and unity of his team. Getting a chance to spend time with him during the interview process only solidified the impression he made.

“Lonnie will bring the same integrity to our program that he did in establishing Purdue as a contender on a national level. He has a championship mentality honed over the many seasons he spent in our conference at Arkansas, as well as a focus on helping the young people he leads grow as students. We are pleased to welcome Lonnie, his wife LaTayna and his entire family to our UK Athletics family.”

Greene led the Purdue women’s team to an eighth place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships last month. Under his guidance, Purdue’s women’s team won the team title at 2017 Big Ten Outdoor Championships for the first time since 1999 and finished 14th at each of the last two NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. In 2016, then men’s team finished 15th at NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships – best since 1972 – and 13th at NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships – second best in school history. Greene was named Women’s Head Coach of the Year in the Great Lakes Region three times in the last two years by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, twice for outdoors and last year for indoors.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity as head coach at Kentucky,” Greene said. “Before I go any further I want to thank everyone I worked with at Purdue. They gave me a chance and I’ll always be so grateful to have worked with them. Thank you to Mitch Barnhart and Jason Schlafer for their leadership and for trusting me to take on this role at UK. I look forward to hitting the ground running building winning teams in the classroom and on the track. I can’t wait to start leading this great program. Go Big Blue!”

Before taking over at Purdue, Greene spent 16 seasons as an assistant at perennial power Arkansas, serving as associate head coach in charge of sprints, hurdles, horizontal jumps and multi events from 2000-2012. In each of his last two seasons with the Razorbacks, he was named USTFCCCA South Central Regional Assistant Coach of the Year. In 2004, he was named National Assistant Coach of the Year.

Greene hails from Nassau, Bahamas, but earned his B.S. from Murray State University in 1989. He is married to LaTayna Stewart. The couple has a daughter, Charisse; three sons, Cameron, Isaiah and Jacob; and two grandchildren, Tylan and Caleb.

Welcome back to the Bluegrass, coach!


Sydney McLaughlin named finalist for The Bowerman

Kentucky freshman track and field phenom Sydney McLaughlin is a finalist for the most prestigious honor in the sport.

McLaughlin is one of three finalists for The Bowerman, an award given to the most outstanding collegiate track athlete in the nation each season.

Arizona State’s Maggie Ewen and Georgia’s Keturah Orji join McLaughlin as finalists chosen by The Bowerman Advisory Board, with McLaughlin being the first female freshman finalist in the ten-year history of The Bowerman.

McLaughlin won gold earlier this month at the NCAA Championships in the 400m hurdles and broke the collegiate record by nearly a second running 52.75 seconds to take home the SEC championship title back in May. She also recorded the 13th-fastest 400m hurdles of all time, and her time of 52.75 makes her just 0.41 seconds away from becoming the fastest woman hurdler in the world.

The winner will be announced on December 20 at the annual USTFCCCA Convention in San Antonio.


Classic Clip: Future UK Hall of Fame golfer Russ Cochran’s 14-point swing

Classic Clip: Future UK Hall of Fame golfer Russ Cochran’s 14-point swing

Earlier today, it was announced that former UK golfer Russ Cochran will enter the UK Athletics Hall of Fame. In his honor, former KSR writer and PGA Tour caddie Aaron Flener dug up this hilarious old clip.

Cochran was a First Team All-SEC honoree at Kentucky and went on to a successful career in the pros, but in the 90’s, had a tough go of it in the Canadian Open, shooting 66 in the first round and 80 in the second. When asked what the difference between the two days was, Cochran quipped, “14 shots.” That’s just the first of many funny things about the video you’re about to watch.

(Some language NSFW)

Thankfully, Cochran’s career only went up from here. He went on to win ten professional tournaments, including one on the PGA Tour and four on the Champions Tour. He finished in the top 10 twice at the PGA Championship and won the British Senior Open in 2011. He’s still active on the Champions Tour (Senior PGA Tour) and has more than $13 million in career earnings.

Not too bad for someone who survived the pure self-destruction of a 14-point swing and hit the SOB everywhere that fateful day in Ontario.


PHOTO: UK Athletics

UK Track and Field’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn to turn pro

PHOTO: UK Athletics

The Kentucky Track and Field team has lost its third star in a week.

Junior hurdler Jasmine Camacho-Quinn has decided to forego her final year of eligibility and will turn pro.

Camacho-Quinn won the NCAA championship in the 100-meter hurdles on Saturday in Eugene, Oregon, her second title in the event and fourth title of her Kentucky career.

Former Kentucky head coach Edrick Floréal left the Cats on Wednesday to take over the Texas Longhorn program.

UK freshman sensation Sydney McLaughlin announced last Saturday that she would be also be turning pro. It has since been reported that McLaughlin will join Floréal this offseason in Austin, TX to train for the professional ranks. Camacho-Quinn is also expected to participate.

Best of luck to all three (now) former Wildcats going forward.


Kentucky Loses Track Coach Edrick Floréal

© Kirby Lee | USTSI

Kentucky’s rising track and field program just lost its leader.  After coaching UK’s program for the last six seasons, Edrick Floréal will be the next head coach of Texas’ track and field team, the school announced.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t start off by thanking Mitch Barnhart and everyone at Kentucky,” Floréal said in a statement. “I’m so grateful for all the support they gave me in building a world-class program there.

“It’s because of them that I have an opportunity like this, and I am so excited to be the head coach at Texas. It’s the elite of the elite in track and field programs, and the potential to achieve greatness is fantastic. You have the premier track and field state in the country to recruit in, a rich and proud history, and are the flagship institution of the state. It’s truly an amazing opportunity.”

When Floréal arrived in Lexington, the track program was an afterthought.  Placing at the bottom of the SEC, the women’s team had never won a trophy as a top four finisher at the National Outdoor Track and Field Championships.  In three of the last four years, Kentucky has earned a top four finish on the NCAA’s biggest stage.

Floréal brought hardware and a ton of swagger to the program.  Kendra Harrison broke a hurdling world record and Jasmine Camacho-Quinn won a pair of National Titles in the hurdles, which helped recruit Olympian Sydney McLaughlin to Kentucky.  McLaughlin cemented UK’s status as “Hurdle U,” as the coach’s motto “Flo Knows” earned enough pedigree for a Sports Illustrated profile.

His contributions to UK’s women’s team are the most significant, but you cannot overlook what he did to develop the men’s team.  This year UK’s Tim Duckworth became just the second man to ever win the indoor heptathlon and outdoor decathlon, joining Olympic gold medalist Ashton Eaton.

Now Mitch Barnhart must conquer the impossible task of finding Floréal’s replacement.

“We are grateful to Edrick Floréal for his work leading our program and wish him well as he pursues this opportunity at Texas,” Barnhart Tweeted.  “We believe the success Kentucky track and field and cross country have seen in recent years is just a glimpse of what’s to come for Kentucky Track.

“A national search for our next head coach will begin immediately. Our focus in this search will remain on our student-athletes and their growth as people and competitors.”


Is Sydney McLaughlin the most dominant athlete in UK history?

The focus was on Justify’s Triple Crown victory yesterday afternoon, but one Kentucky Wildcat followed it up with a trophy-winning performance of her own to add to the long list of records and accolades she has already claimed.

And it may have solidified her spot as the most dominant athlete in UK history.

That’s right, not a star basketball or football player. A track and field sensation has officially taken over the top spot as the most dominant athlete in school history. And if things go as planned, Kentucky freshman Sydney McLaughlin will be the face of U.S. Track and Field for years to come.

McLaughlin, an 18-year-old track phenom from New Jersey, ran away with the 400m Hurdle title at the NCAA Championships last night with a final time of 53.96 seconds to bring another banner back home to Lexington.

Check out the victory, where despite the horrible weather conditions, the Wildcat freshman was able to pull off the 8th fastest time in collegiate history.

Nobody even close.

This came right after McLaughlin destroyed the 400m hurdle semifinals with a time of 54.15, over two seconds faster than anyone else in the field.

The footage is hilarious, as the camera crew tried to keep the view as wide as possible to keep other runners in the frame, but McLaughlin was so far ahead they eventually just gave up.

She came on the national scene by representing the United States in the 2016 Rio Olympics at just 16 years old.

As a senior in high school, McLaughlin recorded the fastest legal time by a high school female in the 200m event with a time of 22.96, a record that had stood since 1993. She followed it up with New Jersey meet records in the 400m hurdles, 400m, and the 200m. The 400m time (54.03) broke the World Junior and overall high school records.

As the fastest runner in all of high school, she had sponsors begging her to skip college and turn pro. Instead, she decided to be a kid for one more year and attend the University of Kentucky.

To no one’s surprise, she quickly became the fastest collegiate female in the nation.

Back in March, McLaughlin set the world junior 400m record with a time of 50.36 at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships. She followed it up with a 400m time of in 50.07 seconds, a new NCAA Freshman record. With that time, McLaughlin became the second-fastest person to run the 400m at the collegiate level ever behind Courtney Okolo and now leads the world in the event.

Just two months later, the track phenom broke the NCAA record in the 400m hurdles, finishing with a 52.75 to win the event in her first SEC championship appearance. In the process, McLaughlin destroyed the World U20 time and broke Shamier Little’s time of 53.21 set at the 2013 NCAA Championships to become No. 13 on the all-time world list.

At 52.75, McLaughlin is just 0.41 seconds away from becoming the fastest woman hurdler in the world.

And according to Kentucky Track and Field coach Edrick Floréal, McLaughlin could easily break Russia’s Yuliya Nosova-Pechonkina 400m hurdle record of 52.34 in the very near future. In “perfect” runs at practice, Floréal said she can finish in the 51.9-second range, which would make her the fastest woman in world history by a whopping .44 seconds.

Unfortunately for UK fans, we won’t be able to see her break that record in a Kentucky uniform. After her national title victory last yesterday, McLaughlin announced she will be turning pro.

So now that her one (and only) season at Kentucky is over, is it safe to say she is the most dominant athlete in school history?

Here’s the competition:

Anthony Davis had the most decorated season at Kentucky, finishing as a national champion, National Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, Olympic gold medal winner, No. 1 draft pick, etc. Most have had him penciled in as the most dominant.

Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones was a three-time basketball All-American and led the team to back-to-back national championships under Adolph Rupp. And he was also a star under Bear Bryant on the football team. Oh, and he dabbled in UK baseball in his “free” time. He was one of the best multi-sport athletes in school history.

Dermontti Dawson was a pro football Hall of Famer. Tim Couch was the most dominant quarterback in UK history and became the No. 1 overall pick. A.J. Reed was the unanimous National Player of the Year in baseball as a hitting/pitching sensation. Dan Issel was a two-time consensus All-American and holds just about every scoring record Kentucky has to offer.

That being said, no one dominated their sport in effortless fashion the way McLaughlin has done in her one-and-done season at Kentucky. She breaks records, but hardly breaks a sweat in doing so. She once clipped a hurdle, but was so far ahead in the race, still casually strolled across the finish line with zero worries.

Her runs are ridiculously effortless. Her competition sees nothing but her back at all times, and the records show for it.

Has she officially taken over the top spot? I think so.


Kentucky Baseball Lands a 2020 Commit

Elliott Hess | UK Athletics

Over the weekend the Kentucky baseball team and Nick Mingione picked up a commitment from 2020 RHP Wyatt Hudepohl of St. Xavier (Cincinnati).

Hudepohl throws in the low 90’s with climbing velocity, he is ranked as the #283 player in the nation by Perfect Game USA.

Hudepohl also plays quarterback for the Bombers but has decided to continue his career in baseball on the next level.


@EMitchKSR