Replacing a champion



By Charlie Cecil

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Improvement is on the minds of the coaches and student athletes of the UK track and field team for 2011. This year’s team faces the challenge of trying to fill the void left by great runners such as Rondel Sorrillo, who was the 200-meter dash national champion in 2010 and runner-up in the 100-meter dash.

“Our heavy hitters graduated,” UK head coach Don Weber said.

Those shoes will be filled this year by the very quick feet of junior transfer sprinter Keith Hayes.

Hayes brings a confidence to the team that is needed with the inexperience that fills its roster.

“As long as my legs are moving I feel good,” Hayes said.

Hayes is a transfer from the University of Kansas and is very happy to be wearing the UK blue.

“They make you train harder here (at UK) and make you a stronger athlete,” Hayes said of the Cats’ coaching staff.

Hayes wants to be on top of his game, especially for the meet against Louisiana State University and four time All-American Barret Nugent in the hurdles.

“I want him to bring it,” Hayes said, “I am calling him out.”

Anchoring the Lady Cats this year will be All-American Jenna Martin who specializes in the 400-meter dash. She has made it her goal to be back at All-American status and improve every day.

“I want us to be in the top three of the SEC if not win it all,” Martin said.

The team this year seems to be in very high spirits and Martin credits the new attitude to Althea Thomas, the women’s sprints and hurdles coach.

“She brings a positive atmosphere and has brought us all closer as a team,” Martin said.

Weber is entering his 27th year as head coach with UK. He is excited about the young talent of this year’s team and is pleased with what they have shown so far working outside of practice. When asked what the motto of this year’s team is, Weber quickly quoted Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno.

“What matters in sports is not the victor but the magnificence of the struggle,” Weber said.

His style for this year’s team is to focus not only the body of the athlete but to condition the mind as well. He wants his players to get the best out of what they have and to not just become faster but to learn more about themselves as well. He wants them to be able to push themselves further and to quiet the voice inside telling them that they can’t train any harder.

“You can have the fastest car but it has to be programmed right to go full throttle,” Weber said.