Russell breaks collegiate record as Cats shine in Red Raider Open and Vanderbilt Invitational



Kentucky Wildcats thrower Josh Sobota participates in the 2022 Commonwealth College Opener on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at the Norton HealthCare Sports & Learning Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo provided by UK Athletics. Kentucky Track and Field competed at Commonwealth Opener. Photo by Ethan Rand | UK Athletics

Aaron Benjamin, Reporter

Kentucky track and field wrapped up its showings in the Red Raider Open, an all-day event hosted by Texas Tech, and the Vanderbilt Invitational, a multi-event competition held by Vanderbilt, on Saturday. 

14 teams competed in the competition that started at 11 a.m.

Kentucky’s first event, the mens 400-meter, started at 11:30 a.m. Competing in the event for the Cats were freshman sprinter Brandon Nyandoro, a runner-up in the 17-18 400-meter at the 2021 USATF Junior Olympics and senior hurdler Beck O’Daniel.  Nyandoro came in sixth place with a time of 49.50 with his teammate O’Daniel right behind him. 

Next up was the womens 200-meter event. Going for the Cats in this event would be SEC Championships 4-by-100-meter silver medalist Shadajah Ballard and sophomore long jumper Anthaya Charlton. Ballard would record an impressive time of 24.28, earning her a fourth-place finish in the event. Charlton would not finish long after her, recording a time of 24.62, which would occupy tenth place on the board. 

The mens 200-meter would see senior sprinter Kennedy Lightner and sophomore sprinter Brandon Miller take the top two spots in a 1-2 finish with times of 20.64 and 20.80.  Jordan Anthony and Langston Jackson would finish sixth and the tenth in the event with times of 20.98 and 21.25. 

In the womens 60-meter hurdles, Ballard, Masai Russell and senior hurdler Yasmin Brooks competed for the Cats. Russell and Brooks qualified with times of 8.1 and 8.22 respectively. Ballard placed twelfth with a time of 8.47.

Russell then went on to win the event with times of 7.75 and 8.17, breaking the collegiate record for the event. Florida’s Grace Stark held the record previously with a time of 7.78, which she recorded at the D1 Championships in 2022. 

In the womens 400-meter final, senior sprinter Dajour Miles won the event with a quick time of 52.45. Senior sprinter Christal Mosley also recorded 54.26 on her way to grabbing seventh place. 

Meanwhile, in Tennessee on Friday night, other Cats were also competing. Senior pole vaulter Keaton Daniel won the mens pole vault event with a score of 5.52. The performance followed up an impressive week that saw him break his own school record.

Junior pole vaulter Dalton Shepler placed ninth with a score of 4.92. 

In the womens 1000-meter event, the Cats had numbers with four of their six participants landing in the top five.

Junior distance runner Jenna Schwinghamer took the top spot with a time of 2:42.39, while graduate student Sydney Steely, sophomore Phoebe McCowan and senior DeAnna Martin took spots 3-5. Freshman Ally Kruger and Juliann Williams placed tenth and fourteenth respectively. 

On Saturday competition resumed in Music City.

Graduate student and Knoxville native Josh Soboda kicked off the day for the Cats with a win in the mens shot put. He won the event with a score of 19.70. Sophomore thrower Dennis Ohene-Adu also placed fifth with a score of 17.63. 

Later in the day, the Cats put on a show in the womens 800-meter event. The group of Schwinghamer, Steely, McCowan and Martin swept the top four positions. Senior Bryanna Lucas finished eighth in the event. 

Next up, the Cats will look to have a good showing at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas, from Jan. 27-28. Kentucky will start at 12:45 p.m.