Jayhawk Distance Group Has Promising Outing at Stanford Invitational
April 7, 2012
Stanford, Calif. – In one of the most competitive distance fields they will see all season, a handful of members of the men’s and women’s track teams made the trip to Stanford, Calif. and the Stanford Invitational which concluded Saturday. Five of the nine who competed recorded new personal bests in what was the first meet of the outdoor season for most of those who donned the Kansas singlet.
“The goal was to come out here and compete and I feel like we did that really well this weekend,” said KU distance coach Michael Whittlesey. “I was really proud of the way our athletes went up against some of the best runners in the nation. That will really benefit them later in the season.”
Junior Austin Bussing was the Jayhawks’ top performer on the weekend as he ran one of the NCAA’s top times in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase in his first race of the outdoor season. The Houston, Texas native, who was an All-Big 12 performer in the event a year ago, set the pace and led the race for the first 2,000 meters. He was unable to win the race, however he crossed the finish line in a personal best time of 8:56.84 to place fifth.
“Austin had an outstanding race on Friday,” said Whittlesey. “Opening the season with a PR and one of the top times in the nation is fantastic and bodes really well for him the rest of the year.”
Bussing now ranks second in the Big 12 in the event with a month until the conference meet.
Fellow junior Zach Zarda also had a career day Friday as he recorded a new personal best of his own. The Maranatha Academy product, competing in the third section of the 5,000 meters, made the just over three-mile trip in 14:08.03, placing fifth overall and topping his former personal record by over 24 seconds. His time ranks sixth in the NCAA’s West Region and puts him at No. 3 in the Big 12 Conference.
All-American Rebeka Stowe was in action in both the 1,500 meters and the 800 meters. Running in the fastest section of the 1,500 meters, the senior clocked in with a time of 4:25.64 to place 11th. The time was just .5 seconds from her personal best and is more than 10 seconds better than the times she was running at this time a year ago. The Olathe, Kan. native went on to compete in the 800 meters on Saturday, where she would claim third place in her heat with a personal best time of 2:11.26.
Sophomore Josh Munsch was the Jayhawks’ top finisher in the men’s 1,500 meters, winning his section of the race with a time of 3:49.71. The time moves him into the top five in the league and into the all-important top-48 in the West Region, which would give him an automatic ticket to the Regional Preliminary meet in late May.
Donny Wasinger, who was a member of the All-American honorable mention team a year ago, placed 12th in his section of the 1,500 meters with a time of 3:53.18 and clocked in at 1:53.40 in his fourth-place finish of the 800 meters.
James Wilson rounded out the distance carnival Friday night as he competed in the longest race of the meet, the 10,000 meters and notched the best time of his career at 30:35.90.
“The athletes have already put themselves in a great position to have some really successful seasons,” concluded Whittlesey. “A lot of schools are still in the middle of preseason workouts but this meet showed that a lot of us our already in midseason form and that’s the main thing we can take away from this weekend.”
The Jayhawks will get one final tune-up before the Kansas Relays when they head to the UTEP Invitational in El Paso, Texas on April 17. Log on to kuathletics.com for a complete recap of the day’s action and follow updates on twitter at KU_Track.