EUGENE, Ore. – Kentucky track and field’s Sha’Keela Saunders and Kenyattia Hackworth both advanced in the long jump to start the Wildcats’ 2016 United States Olympic Team Trials campaign off strong on Friday before 20,987 at Oregon’s Hayward Field.
They will be among the 12 who contest the long jump final at 2:45 p.m. ET on Saturday. The top-three finishers will qualify for Team USA.
Saturday’s action will be broadcast on NBC. The early-going of the completion will be shown on NBC Sports Live Extra.
Saunders needed just one jump on Friday as she soared to a mark of 22’3.5″/6.79 meters aided by a +5.0 wind. Although the mark was a lifetime all-conditions best, it cannot be considered for records because the wind was more than 2.0 meters per second.
Saunders’ mark was the second best of the qualifying. She landed comfortably past the automatic qualifying mark of 21’11.75”/6.70m meaning Saunders was able to pass on her next two attempts.
Hackworth – a UK class of 2015 alumni who entered Friday as the No. 2-ranked American this season – took a slightly more stressful path to the final, although all that mattered in the end was making it to Saturday as the marks will be wiped clean to begin the final.
She fouled on her first attempt, and then took off behind the board on her second attempt, eaving her outside the top-12 qualifying places entering the final round of the prelims.
Hackworth took care of business on her third attempt, though, reaching a mark of 21’6.25″/6.56m (+2.3) – 10th best of qualifying.
Indeed Friday was a good day for Wildcats who have trained for these trials in Lexington under head coach Edrick Floréal’s direction. Leah Nugent made the Jamaican Olympic team in the 400m hurdles.
Beckie Famurewa also turned in a strong showing in the discus.
She placed 14th in discus qualifying – two spots from advancing – with a mark of 181’4″/55.28m.
NBC’s family of networks will broadcast the 10-day trials.
Saunders placed fifth and Hackworth ninth in the long jump at last season’s USATF Championships, which were also held at Hayward Field and served as the qualifying meet for the IAAF World Championships.