KU's New National Leaders Highlight Bill Easton Classic

Jan. 5, 2013

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Junior Natalia Bartnovskaya soared to victory in women’s pole vault Saturday, clearing a NCAA-best 4.12m.

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – The third-ranked Kansas women’s track and field team saw winners in all but one event Saturday afternoon at the Bill Easton Classic inside Anschutz Sports Pavilion. Three Jayhawks posted NCAA-leading marks while 15 individual KU athletes and all four relays took home victories from Kansas’ first meet of the new year.

“Today was a really good team effort,” said 13th-year head coach Stanley Redwine. “We wanted to see where everyone was after the long break and how they were going to compete and I feel like everyone did pretty well. There’s definitely room for improvement but for the competition we had today, I thought we did well.”

Starting out the day for the Jayhawks were the women’s pole vaulters, who again looked dominant on their home runway. Junior Demi Payne entered the day as the national leader in the event after hitting a mark of 4.10 meters (13-5.25 ft.) in her season-opening win at the Bob Timmons Challenge. Fellow Jayhawk, Natalia Bartnovskaya, didn’t let Payne hold onto the prestigious title for long though, leaping to a new NCAA-leading mark and winning her first event in a Kansas uniform.

The junior transfer out of Vincennes College (Ind.) fouled only twice at her first three heights before vaulting over the 4.12 meter (13-6.25 ft.) bar to take the victory. Bartnovskaya outdueled her teammate and eventual runner-up, Payne, whose streak of four-consecutive pole vault wins inside Anschutz Pavilion was snapped.

The men’s top performer on the day was sprinter Kyle Clemons, who was seeing his first action of the season in a Kansas uniform. Competing in the 600 yards, the senior out of Rowlett, Texas, charged through the 2.5 laps to clock in with a new personal-best of 1:11.02. The mark moves the two-time Second Team All-American to the top of the national list and over teammate Michael Stigler, who currently sits at second in the NCAA.

Andrea Geubelle took part in her first triple jump competition since winning bronze in the event at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials last June. The senior ended the meet for the Jayhawks on a high note as she hit a mark of 13.16 meters (43-2.25 ft.) on her second jump of the day to head into the finals with a commanding lead. Unable to improve on her semifinal mark, Geubelle eventually claimed the win by more than a foot with her jump that is tops in the nation this young season. Geubelle, the reigning indoor NCAA champion in the event, has never recorded a better mark in her first triple jump competition of a season.

The men’s and women’s 3,000 meters kicked off the day on the track for Kansas. Junior Natalie Becker backed up her runner-up performance a month ago in the Bob Timmons Challenge with another strong outing, however this time, she came out with the event title. Becker crossed the finish line in 10:05.92, nearly three seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. Her time is also the fastest by a Jayhawk this season and puts the St. Louis, Mo., native in the top-15 of the NCAA rankings.

On the men’s side, Kansas had a host of Crimson and Blue clad runners take to the track in the 3,000 meters, many for the first time this season. Junior Josh Munsch and sophomore Reid Buchanan controlled the race from the outset, battling for position for much of the race before Munsch used a strong closing kick over the final 200 meters to beat his teammate. Munsch finished in a new personal-record time of 8:22.80 and outpaced Buchanan, who also ran to a career-best time of 8:23.70.

Paris Daniels was again impressive as she continued her blazing start to her senior season in Lawrence. The St. Louis, Mo., native entered the day with the NCAA’s No. 1 60-meter and 200-meter times but turned to a longer distance Saturday. Running in the first 600-yard race of her career, Daniels finished in 1:25.84 and beat out freshman-teammate Rhavean King, who clocked in with a personal-best 1:27.12. Daniels’ time now puts her into the NCAA top-10 in three different events this season.

Freshman Tianna Valentine posted a notable performance in the 60 meters, sprinting past many of her elder KU teammates in the process. The St. Louis, Mo., native dove across the finish line in a time of 7.49 to earn the first victory of her young collegiate career. Valentine’s time, the second-fastest run by a Jayhawk this season, ranks as the 13th-fastest time in the nation on the year.

The men’s pole vaulters put together some impressive performances later in the evening with all six Jayhawks finishing within the top-eight of the final standings. Junior Alex Bishop again led the group, outdueling former KU vaulter and current graduate assistant Ryan Hays, who was competing unattached. Bishop didn’t record a single foul all the way to his winning height of 5.11 meters (16-9.25 ft.). The victory is the second of Bishop’s KU career and positions him at No. 10 in the NCAA.

In the high jump pits, Colleen O’Brien picked up the sixth win of her young KU career. The sophomore out of Louisburg, Kan., didn’t record a foul as she cleared her first two heights with ease, topping 1.69 meters (5-6.50 ft.) on her second jump of the day. O’Brien then took three attempts at a new personal record height of 1.76 meters (5-9.25 ft.), but just clipped the bar on all three attempts. O’Brien has still never lost a high jump competition inside of Anschutz Pavilion.

Another strong performance on the track for the KU men came from junior Dalen Fink in the 1,000 meters. The O’Fallon, Mo., native topped his previous personal best by over 14 seconds to turnout his third win in a Kansas uniform and first in the 1,000 meters.

Other individual KU winners Saturday were seniors Francine Simpson in the long jump (19-9 ft.) and Denesha Morris in the 400 meters (57.60), sophomore Alisha Keys in the 200 meters (24.66), junior Maddy Rich in the mile (5:22.33) and the sophomore Stigler in the 400 meters (48.34).

As has become somewhat of a tradition at the Kansas home meets, the Jayhawks have been nothing short of dominant in the relay events. That was again the case Saturday as all four of the relays were claimed by KU teams. The women’s distance medley relay comprised of Becker, Timmie Morris, Maddy Rich and Sara Seiwald weren’t challenged en route to their commanding victory, passing the baton around in 12:30.01. On the men’s side Munsch, Kellum Schneider, Brendan Soucie and Kaman Schneider followed the women’s lead with a big win and clocked in with a time of 10:18.59, the fourth-fastest in the NCAA this season.

Running together for the first time in the 4×400-meter relay were King, Morris, Keys and Daniels. The newly-formed quartet didn’t look fazed though, running to a first-place finish in 3:50.89. The men’s 4×400-meter team of Clemons, Adebayo Braimah, Stigler and Alex Hermes also met little resistance during their victorious race. The four combined for a time of 3:20.29 to take the win by just over two seconds.

KU track & field will have a short week as it will return to Anschutz Pavilion on Friday, Jan. 11 for the Jayhawk Challenge. First events are slated to begin at 1 p.m., with the women’s 3,000 meters and will conclude at 5:30 p.m. with the men’s 4×400-meter relay. Updates and results will be available throughout the day at KUAthletics.com and on Twitter at KU_Track.

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