Simpson, Payne Highlight Day One of New Balance Invitational

Feb. 3, 2012

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New Balance Invitational
Day 1 Coverage
Junior Francine Simpson leaped to a runner-up finish in the long jump Friday night at the New Balance Invitational.

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Meet Coverage
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NEW YORK – Junior Francine Simpson and sophomore Demi Payne were the Jayhawks’ top performers Friday, each notching indoor personal bests at on the first day of the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. The meet, which is held at the Armory Track and Field Center, is hosting over 100 collegiate teams from across the nation this weekend, 17 of which are currently ranked in the top 25 of the national rankings.

Simpson was the Jayhawks’ top finisher on the day, placing second in the champion division long jump to USC’s Alittla Boyd by less than an inch. Simpson leaped to a mark of 6.32 meters (20-08.75 ft.) in the competition to cement her spot as the runner-up. The mark, which is the best in the Big 12 this season, is only six inches from the distance needed to automatically qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships in March. Simpson will try to duplicate her Friday success Saturday, when she runs in the 200 meters.

For the third time this season, Payne recorded a new personal best in the pole vault, clearing the bar at 4.20 meters (13-09.25 ft.) on Friday evening on just her second attempt of the day. The sophomore was doing this against some of the most elite vaulters in the NCAA, as she was competing in the championship division of the event. Later, she nearly became the third woman in KU history to vault over 14 feet indoors, but barley skimmed the bar on all three attempts just enough for a trio of faults. She would end her day with a fourth-place finish and yet another new personal record to add under her belt. Payne currently stands in third on the all-time KU pole vaulting list and will try again to move up that list next week at the Tyson Invitational.

Rebecca Neville started the Jayhawks’ weekend off strong in the morning, running in the preliminary heats of the women’s college division 60-meter hurdles. For the second time this indoor season, the junior recorded a new personal best in the event, crossing the finish line in 8.68 and advancing to finals with the third-best time among those in the field. Her preliminary time now ranks fifth on the school’s all-time 60-meter hurdle chart.

Neville, who is a multi-event specialist, also advanced to the finals in the college division long jump. She quickly shot up the leaderboard when she jumped to a distance of 5.75 meters (18-10.50 ft.), which would eventually propel her to a fifth-place finish.

Newcomer Chris Toombs has begun to make a name for himself as a Jayhawk, as he continues to lead the KU men in the long jump and Friday afternoon was no different. On his second attempt of the day, Toombs jumped to a distance of 6.99 meters (22-11.25 ft.), marking the second time this season he has jumped over 22 feet.

On the track, freshman sprinter Alisha Keys turned some heads when she ran the fastest 60-meter dash out of over 100 runners in the preliminary heats of the college division. Her new personal-best time of 7.60 launched her into the finals later in the evening. There she would conclude her day with an eighth-place finish on a time of 7.70.

Earlier in the day, freshman Jaimie House would have her best performance in a Kansas uniform, finishing fifthin the college flight of the women’s pole vault. The El Dorado, Kan. native cruised through the early heights and cleared a personal-best 3.90 meters (12-09.50ft.) on her first attempt. Her career night now gives Kansas two vaulters who rank in the top-five in the Big 12 this year (Payne and House).

The men’s distance medley relay team of Donny Wasinger, Reid Buchanan, Josh Munsch and Dalen Fink ran against a stacked field in one of the mare exciting events of the evening. In the early part of the race the men held their own, but the suicide pace proved to be just too much for them to keep up with. In a race where the top-two finishing teams hit the NCAA automatic qualifying mark, the four passed the baton around in a season-best 9:57.89 to finish in eighth place.

The KU throwers competed in a unique environment in the afternoon as the hold the shot put events in an area that is completely enclosed like a cage. For the women, Jessica Maroszek hit a mark of 14.02 meters (45-10-00ft.) on her first attempt to place 19th, with teammate Heather Bergmann unleashing a throw of 13.34 meters (43-09.25ft.) on her third attempt to place 31st. Both marks wouldn’t be enough, however, to advance the women to finals.

On the men’s side, Joel Krause was coming off his second win of the season last week and was looking to continue his recent success in the ring on Friday. The senior’s top throw would end up being 15.50 meters (47-07.00 ft.), and would end his day with a 46th-place finish.

Other top performances came from sprinting sophomore Shawn Smith, who placed 28th-overall in the finals of the champion division’s 60-meter dash, but did it in a season-best 6.91 against many of the best sprinters in the country. Andrea Geubelle also had a solid outing in the long jump alongside her teammate, Simpson. Geubelle broke the 20-foot barrier for the second time this year, jumping to 6.19 meters (20-03.75 ft.) to finish sixth. On the men’s track, Brendan Soucie and Gabe Gonzalez both won their heats of the men’s 1,000 meters, Gonzalez (2:29.76) going on to claim 18th overall, while Soucie (2:32.62) finished 29th.

The Jayhawks will be in action again tomorrow for the second and final day of the New Balance Invitational. Alena Krechyk will kick things off at 9:15 a.m. (ET) in the weight throw and the men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relay teams will close things out at around 5:45 p.m. (ET). Follow all the meet action and results at through the Meet Central page and stay updated through twitter at KU_Track.