Diamond Dixon Shines at Bill Easton Classic

Jan. 7, 2012

Bill Easton Classic
Post Meet Coverage
Sophomore Josh Munsch blazed down the home stretch to win the men’s 3,000 meters Saturday afternoon

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The KU Track & Field teams continued their strong start to the 2012 campaign Saturday as they hosted the second meet of the young season, the Bill Easton Classic. After over a month away from action, the Jayhawks continued where the left off, as 10 athletes earned 11 individual titles and the KU relay teams sweeping each of the relay events.

“Although we had some good performances individually, as a team, I feel like we’re still a little rusty,” said head coach Stanley Redwine following the meet. “Although we had some really great performances today, I would consider them average. We need to be better than average.”

Sophomore Diamond Dixon had a highlight day, winning the 60 meters, the 200 meters and running the second leg of the 4×400-meter relay team that won the event as well. Dixon, who was the Big 12 Champion and an All-American in the 400 meters a season ago, showed her versatility Saturday by hitting personal best marks, first, in the 60 meters with a time of 7.50 and then in the 200 meters, crossing the finish line in 24.55.

“I was a little nervous before the 60 (meters) but I just tried to stay confident and I ended up surprising myself,” explained Dixon. “I really surprised myself in the 200 (meters), too because last year I ran a 25.00 200, so I feel good. I feel like I’m ahead of the game now so I just need to keep pushing it and I’ll be all right.”

The El Paso, Texas native helped lead an extremely talented 4×400-meter relay squad to theevent title Saturday evening, the same team the combined to earn indoor and outdoor All-American status last season. Dixon, along with senior Shayla and juniors Denesha Morris and Taylor Washington passed the baton around in 3:44.42 to win the race by nearly six seconds.

“I feel like we’re in really good position,” Dixon said of the relay team’s early-season performance. “To run 3:44 is good but we wanted to run a little faster today. Competition is a key to getting better, too. I think we’re in line to run some pretty good times this year.”

Dixon and her relay team weren’t the only All-Americans in action on the track Saturday, as Rebeka Stowe made her indoor season debut in the 3,000 meters. The senior, who earned Big 12 All-Conference honors in cross country during the fall, picked up right where she left off, winning the event in 9:43.07, just three seconds off the facility record. Stowe also helped her women’s distance medley team to a first-place finish, notching a time of 12:17.85.

“I wanted to go out at a five minute pace and try to hold that,” said Stowe. “The NCAA auto (automatic qualifying mark) is 9:14, so I still have a lot of work to do before I am quite there but I feel like I am in a good place right now.”

On the men’s side, sophomore Josh Munsch duplicated Stowe’s efforts in the 3,000 meters, by taking the men’s title. Munsch beat out a host of his KU brethren, finishing in a personal-record time of 8:24.49 and earning his second-career victory as Jayhawk.

Two women’s vertical jumpers continued their strong starts to the season, with sophomore Demi Payne winning her second-straight pole vault title and freshman Colleen O’Brien repeating in the high jump. Payne would win on a height clearance of 3.97 meters (13-00.25 ft.), which would give the Corpus Christie, Texas native a new indoor personal best. O’Brien would continue to impress as she wouldn’t fault once on her way to the event victory, eventually ending her night with a top mark of 1.75 meters (5-08.75ft.).

“I was feeling pretty good coming out there today,” O’Brien said after the win. “I want to try to keep getting first and keep going up the ladder. five-11 is my next goal and then six foot hopefully in the near future.”

All-Americans Jessica Maroszek and Andrea Geubelle were also in action in the freshly-renovated Anschutz Pavilion Saturday night. The sophomore, Maroszek, took her second shot put title of the indoor season, hitting a distance of 14.41 meters (47-03.35ft.) on her final throw of the day. Geubelle, competing in her first triple jump of the year, had a top leap of 12.87 meters (42-02.75 ft.). The junior would go on to place sixth in the 200 meters with a time of 25.94.

Other Jayhawks to pick up victories on Saturday were junior Francine Simpson in the long jump, notching a top jump of 5.99 meters (19-08ft.), junior Kathleen Thompson (5:13.41) in the mile, junior Taylor Washington (56.34) in the 400 meters and the men’s 4×400 meter and distance medley relay teams.

“The month off that we had was a long time,” Redwine said. “We have to get back in condition. We have to get back to being race-fit. When those things happen, we’ll be a much better team.”

The teams will hope to be in top form next Friday, Jan. 7, when they take on Missouri in a dual meet that is set to begin at 1 p.m. in Columbia. While the Jayhawks aim to earn a victory over their rivals for the second-straight year, they know the meet is just another step in the improvement process that they must take advantage of.

“I’m looking forward to it but it’s just another meet to me,” concluded Redwine. “I understand it’s Missouri and that it’s a huge rivalry, but in the bigger scheme of things, I want our team to be at their best at the NCAA meet and at the Big 12 meet. I want to win the (Missouri) meet and all the athletes want to win the meet, but I would much rather win the NCAA (National Championships).”