Men's Track & Field
Daniel, Lightner Continue to Break Records for UK Track & Field Team

Daniel, Lightner Continue to Break Records for UK Track & Field Team

by Bryson Steed

Broken records, hard work, and dedication are several things to describe the careers of graduate sprinter Kennedy Lightner and senior pole vaulter Keaton Daniel at the University of Kentucky.

Lightner, who transferred from Arkansas Baptist in 2021, has inserted his name into the history book with some of the best men’s sprinters in Kentucky track & field history. He currently holds the indoor 300 meter school record running in 32.45, while having the second fastest 200 meter time in school history.

Lightner is looking ahead to a successful outdoor campaign this year after speaking with him, “I’m looking forward to winning SECs (championships), doing good for regionals, and hopefully winning nationals… improving on my time from last year,” Lightner said.

Daniel, who also transferred in 2021  from Fresno Pacific, holds the school record in the indoor and outdoor pole vault clearing a personal best height of 19 feet in January.(5.80m, 5.70m). The reigning 2024 indoor champion says goals are not of importance to him for him to succeed.

“I have avoided setting finite goals… it’s developed me as an athlete. I set aside the numbers and focus on sleep, diet, and keeping my stress low… I look at more developmental goals rather than outcome,” Daniel said.

Both being veterans on the team, Daniel and Lightner have been setting an example for those younger than them. “It’s cool seeing them evolve throughout the season after being fresh headed at the beginning,” Lightner said.

“It’s definitely a very young team, Brayden Jackson has been a super big help to me, coming in with energy and pushing me. The younger guys are rewarding to me, and I also am a very good example for them,” Daniel said.

The pair look to help the team improve placing wise at the SEC outdoor championships after a sixth-place finish at this year’s indoor championships. “I’m making sure my hamstrings are healthy so I can finish top three at SECs so I can score more points and place better,” Lightner said.

It’s consistency, not waiting until the day to perform… every opportunity we get to pretend it’s SECs or align ourselves in a position to place top three… that’s definitely the goal.”

As both Daniel and Lightner’s time at UK is set to come to an end after the conclusion of this season, they shared what they enjoyed most about competing here. “I enjoyed meeting new people every year and really making connections with a lot of athletes and the SEC in general. The coaches and connections are what I really love about Kentucky,” Lightner said.

“I have to go with the culture, especially Kris Grimes my coach, he’s definitely one of my best friends… he has developed me as an athlete and as a person.”

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