Record Setting Hammer Throw Highlights Day One of 79th Kansas Relays

April 20, 2006


LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas State’s Laci Heller set a Kansas Relays record in the women’s hammer throw and four second-place finishes by the University of Kansas track and field team highlighted Day ?One of the 79th Kansas Relays. Heller’s throw of 197-04 bested the former mark of 195-05, set by another Wildcat, Rennetta Seiler, in 1997.

“Great competition and tremendous weather were the high marks of Day One,” Meet Director Tim Weaver said following Thursday’s action. “It was a great first leg of the Kansas Relays. Friday, we’ll hand the baton to the high school and college athletes and let the games begin!”

Kansas’ track and field squad enjoyed success on Thursday from both past and present athletes. The day began with the Jayhawks recording second-place finishes in both the men’s and women’s hammer throw. Sophomore Egor Agafonov recorded a distance of 222-02, just six inches behind Pac-Bay’s Nick Welihozkiy’s toss of 222-08. Freshman Zlata Tarasova then followed suit, finishing only three inches (194-01) behind Heller’s record-setting throw in the women’s event.

In the men’s unseeded 800-meter run, KU sophomore Matt Baysinger finished with a runner-up time of 1.51.93, placing second by just three tenths of a second to Mid America Nazerine’s Mark Wieczorek. In the men’s 5,000 meters, seniors Mike Putzke and Chris Jones each ran well, finishing third and fifth, respectively. In addition, junior Adrian Ludwig finished second in the men’s 1,500-meter run.

Former Jayhawk D.J. Hilding won the men’s 5,000-meter Open run in impressive fashion, finishing with a time of 15.42.49, nearly a minute faster than his closest competitor.

Other notable winners on Day One included Amy Mortimer in the women’s 5,000-meter run. The former 12-time All-American at Kansas State finished with a time of 16.17.1.

Also, Kelli Benton, sister of KU distance runner Melissa O’Rourke, won the women’s Open 5K, and their mother, Martha O’Rourke, placed second in the same event.

Competition will resume on Friday morning at 8 a.m., with the girl’s javelin set to kick off over 12 hours of track and field events. The Relays’ main event, GOLDZONE II, is schedule to get underway on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Quotes From Day One

Nick Welihozkiy, Pac-Bay (1st place, 222-08)
On winning for the third year in a row:
“This year I came in as the underdog with Egor (Agafonov) being here this year. I knew that this was going to be an all-out war and I was going to have to be above my game. I wasn’t expecting to win.”

On his performance:
“This was one of my best competitions ever. I threw two PR’s today to win.”

Egor Agafonov, Kansas (2nd place, 222-02)
On competing at the Kansas Relays:
“I thought the competition was good. We also had nice weather. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t but I tried. He (Nick Welihozkiy) is very good.”

Laci Heller, Kansas State (1st place, 197-04)
On placing first:
“It means a lot to win these big meets. We don’t have many meets so we approach every meet as an important one. It felt good to get the (Kansas Relays) record, but I still need to improve.”

On having teammates in finals:
“It helps a lot. That is how it normally goes. There is usually at least two or three of us in the finals. It helps us to relax before we throw.”

Zlata Tarasova, Kansas (2nd place, 194-01)
On placing second:
“It’s not too bad but I don’t like it. I wanted to do 62 meters. I think that it is good for me because I am just a freshman. This was my best result in competition.”

Kassy Laber, South Dakota (1st place, 2:13.12)
On winning the first running event of the Kansas Relays:
“I was pretty excited but there’s not too many people here yet.”

On the weather conditions:
“It was really windy on the backside, but otherwise it was good. It is always fun to run here. It is a fun stadium.”

Mark Wievzorek, MidAmerica Nazarene (1st place, 1:51.56)
On winning the race:
“It was really good. It’s just a great opportunity to be here. I am glad to be able to compete here.”

On his personal performance:
“I was really happy. It was my best time by a couple tenths, so I’m happy.”

Tiffany Czarnomska, University of Mary (1st place, 4:38.28)
On winning at such a big event:
“We don’t come to many races like this, so when we get a chance to run against this competition it’s awesome. I know that my coach is giving me the training that I need, which is great.”

On momentum for the rest of the season:
“We only have two races left, so this is a great incentive to do better.”

Titus Tirop, Missouri Baptist (1st place, 3:59.95)
On his win:
“The times were not as fast as I expected. This is a good step towards nationals, which is coming up pretty soon. I was not happy with my time. I was basically running alone, which made it tougher.”

T. Jay Sanderson, Unattached (1st place, 9:46.04 )
On winning at the Kansas Relays:
“I have not run in six months. I like to run here though. I won the unseeded 1500-meter run as a freshman and last year I got fourth in the mile. I am redshirting this year, so I decided to do a test-run of the steeplechase.”

On winning his first-ever steeplechase:
“I felt pretty lackadaisical towards the end there. You don’t expect your legs to get tired like that but you still have to jump over the hurdles.”

Emily Sisson, Cornhusker Flyers (1st place, 9:46.49)
On the conditions of the race:
“I thought it was good. I’ve raced in front of crowds like this before but I still get nervous.”

On the final 100-meter kick:
“I just wanted to have a good kick because the girl ahead of me is really fast.”

Bryan Niewald, Overland Park, Kan. (1st place, 5:05:93)
On participating at the Kansas Relays:
“It’s a great venue, and I always like coming here. It’s a well-run meet; it’s one of the best. This was my fourth appearance (at Kansas Relays).”

Kelli Benton, Prairie Village, Kan. (1st place, 19:23:08)
On her race:
“I just wanted to come out and run. I just had a baby and I have not been able to run in so long. I ran in high school, but that was a long time ago (in 1998). When I did run, I ran the 800 meters, which is a lot shorter. I’m glad they put us with the guys.”

On her motives for racing:
“My sister (Melissa O’Rourke) runs the 800 (meters) here for Kansas. My mother (Martha O’Rourke) and I decided to run in the race because we were already here to watch her.”

D.J. Hilding (1st place, 15:42:49)
On his race:
“It’s nice because I ran here at KU. It’s nice to come back. I run more relaxed.”

On his training:
“I’ve been training for a half-marathon in June, but other than that I’ve just been doing a good job of working out.”

Steve Schoon (3rd place, 16:36:60)
On his strategy for the race:
“I didn’t have one at all. I spent all day thinking about the race. I didn’t want to go out too fast. The guys that went out fast definitely deserved to win. I just wanted to run a good time.”

On this year’s race compared to last year’s:
“It was a lot better than last year considering last year I was in college and I had 60 miles of training per week. This year I ran 30 minutes a day. I came out almost a minute faster (than last year).”

Amy Mortimer, Reebok (1st place, 16:17:17)
On her race:
“This is awesome. I was so excited to be back here. I could hear the announcer say that I was close to the record.”

On coming back to race in Kansas:
“I live in Boston now, so it’s great to come back. I miss home a lot. It’s great to know that my friends could watch me race.”

Aaron Yoder, Fort Hays State (1st place, 15:26.49)
On racing at the Kansas Relays:
“I thought it would have been more competitive, but I liked it. The field was good. It was a big achievement for me, it put me in a good position.”

Betty Rotich, Missouri Baptist (1st place, 35:15:51)
On her race:
“I really wanted someone to run with who would push me to get a better time. My field was good though.”

Jason McCullough, Unattached (1st place, 31:09.62)
On winning the race:
“It was an awesome feeling. My previous PR in a 10K was 33:10, so that was a two minute and two second PR for me. It was hard (running alone), it was a challenge. I knew when I broke away at three miles that I had to push it, otherwise those other guys would catch up and it would be even harder.”

On the Kansas Relays:
“This meet is awesome because of the music, and especially the weather tonight. It was set for good times today.”

-Kansas’ 800-meter runner Melissa O’Rourke’s sister Kelli Benton and mother Martha O’Rourke placed first and second respectively in the women’s Open 5,000-meter event. Kelli had a time of 19:23:08 while Martha finished in 22:59:57.

-Kansas State’s Laci Heller set a new Kansas Relays record in the women’s hammer throw with a mark of 197-04. The previous record was 195-05 set at the 1997 relays by Rennetta Seiler also of Kansas State.