Day Three of Kansas Relays in the Books

April 20, 2007

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April 20 – Lawrence, Kan.

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Under sunny skies and a cool spring breeze, the University of Kansas track and field teams witnessed several outstanding performances on Friday at the Kansas Relays. Freshman Kirk Cooper cleared 16-06.75 (5.05m) to register a regional qualifying mark and sophomore Stephanie Horton and senior Abby Emsick finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the shot put.

Cooper is the second Kansas pole-vaulter to regionally qualify for the Midwest Regional Championships in Des Moines, Iowa on May 25 & 26. Fellow rookie Jordan Scott also has a regional mark in the event.

Horton finished with a toss of 49-03 (15.01m) while Emsick threw 48-05.50 (14.77m). Both already own regional marks in the event and continue a highly successful weekend for the Jayhawk throwers.

On the track, junior Patrick McGowan and freshman Lauren Bonds each placed second in their respective 3,000-meter steeplechase event. McGowan finished in a time of 9:33.00 while Bonds placed in 11:11.86.

Sophomore Victoria Howard qualified in the women’s 100-meter dash with a time of 11.78 seconds. Senior Janiece Gatson and sophomore Sha’Ray Butler qualified for the 400-meter hurdle finals with times of 1:01.07 and 1:00.53. Butler’s time represents her first regionally qualifying mark in the event while Gatson already owns a qualifying mark.

For the men, sophomore Jarrell Rollins qualified for the finals in the men’s 400-meter dash with a time of 47.69 seconds, a new personal best. The men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relay team qualified for the finals in a time of 3:11.49 and 3:44.21, respectively.

Saturday concludes the 80th Anniversary of the Kansas Relays with exciting event finales and the running of the Gold Zone. Stay tuned to for all the results, notes and quotes from the day’s action.

Friday’s Quotes

GOLDZONE Participants

Allyson Felix

On running in the Kansas Relays:

“I’m happy to be back. Last year went really well so I’m excited to come here to the Relays and run with my teammates.”

On the competition:

“Hopefully the competition will be good. I’m looking forward to it.”

On the importance of running at the Relays:

“The Relays are always important and this year even more so with the World Championships and just getting all the practice that we can. We’re here to get the experience and hopefully put ourselves in contention for a spot on the World 4×100 team.”

On Maurice Green not being at the Kansas Relays this year:

“He’s usually always here, so I think it’s a little weird for a lot of people.”

On being among the top elite athletes this year:

“I didn’t really realize that. I’ve just been focused on our events.”

On how the events are part of her training plan:

“It’s definitely a part of the plan coming here to get some speed work. It’s early in the year and just a part of working on things.”

Muna Lee

On running in the Kansas Relays:

“I always have fun coming back home.”

On the importance of running at the Relays:

“This has always been a big meet. It’s not quite as big as it usually is this year, but there’s always good competition from high school to college, all the way up to professional.”

BeSean “Batman” Jackson

On being the Goldzone headliner:

“I’m blessed, I work so hard, I’m so humble, I’m such a warrior. Just to be the favorite, it’s hard work and I deserve it. It’s no pressure on me. I love it. I love being on top.”

On last year’s Kansas Relays:

“Last year I remember coming out and having fun. Staying relaxed and focused and running a good race. I had my fastest season-opener. Last year was a good race but I’m trying to make it better this year.”

Why he comes to the Kansas Relays:

“This has always been a great meet. It’s organized good. They treat us like athletes. It’s a good atmosphere to run fast at. I love to come here.”

On what he wants to accomplish tomorrow:

“My target is to run faster than last year. If I run 48.2 I’m ahead of the game, better than I was last year.”

How did you get the nickname “Batman”?:

“When I was coming up I had big ears and was fast and also small. I thought it was an insult at first, but as the years went by it grew on me.”

Jeff Hartwig

“I’m really excited to be here. I have great memories of the Kansas Relays from when I was in school even though that was a long time ago. This is something we look forward to every year because it’s such a big event.”

On second thoughts of this being his last year competing:

“The most difficult decision to make in track and field was the one to actually quit. I entered this year with all intentions that this would be my last year; now I’m getting some encouragement from my coach and other people saying “you are jumping so well and there is no reason you should quit”, so it makes it tougher. At this point I’m going to try to finish the year and stay focused on this season and hopefully if everything plays out and goes well at the end of the year I’ll be in a more comfortable position to actually make that decision.”

“You come to a meet like this it’s more athlete friendly. You see the high school kids and the college kids are out there having a good time. It’s a fun thing for them and it really revives us. You see a lot of people out there just for the enjoyment of being on the track. It’s a breath of fresh air and refreshing to be in an atmosphere like this.”

Al Hobson

On the athletes he coaches:

“I basically target them based on performance when they are in high school and then follow them through college and try to hook up with them after they are out of college.”

On Mark Jelks:

“Mark is scheduled to be one of the up and coming guys.”

On Rae Edwards:

“Rae has been around for a while and he has experienced a little more success to date than Mark has. He has a couple of years on Mark, but I think Mark will eventually get there.”

On Maurice Greene’s absence from the Kansas Relays:

“Things feel a little different now without Maurice here. I am a Maurice Greene fan. It seems so weird to have this meet without Maurice here. This was an average meet until Maurice Greene starting coming and he pretty much turned this thing around. There has always been a Greene at this meet ever since I can remember. Either Maurice or his older brother Earnest would be here.”

Mark Jelks

On the race:

“I feel pretty good about it. I am confident that we are going to go out there and put up some numbers that are going to impress some people. We are probably going to shock some people. Not many people realize we can run as fast as we can.”

On his future at the Kansas Relays:

“As long as I am running I will be coming to the Kansas Relays. I love the Kansas Relays. It is home now since we live and train here with coach Hobson.”

Rae Edwards

On the meet:

“I am excited to be here. This is the fifth consecutive year that I have come to the Kansas Relays. I ran here while I was at junior college running with coach Hobson. Even when I went to Texas Tech I drove back 10 hours just to run in this relay. It does have a different feel now that Maurice isn’t here, but we are going to try and keep up the same pace and make it just as exciting as if he was here. We have put it on ourselves to keep the KU Relays running even without Maurice.”

On the Relays experience:

“Compared to a bunch of the Relays, I don’t know if it is a home field advantage thing. Yet, I feel like we get treated well at the KU Relays. We never have any problems warming up, getting water, or getting things done.”

On his team’s status:

“I want to say that a lot of people don’t really know us, but three of our members were on the relay team in Helsinki that dropped the stick. We aren’t amateurs and we have been at this for a while. We have been there before and it shouldn’t shock anyone if we put up a big number.”

Nick Hysong

On the Kansas Relays:

“I’ve been coming the last two years and it’s been a lot of fun. They have a lot of respect for the athletes out there. You come here and you don’t have any problems, things are taken care of. They made an effort to make it fun out on the field for us to jump. This year they’ve brought in more athletes and put a little bit more pressure out there and a little bit more drive to see what you can do on a given day.”

On what he expects tomorrow:

“Last year I had knee surgery and struggled a little bit here. This year I’m physically in a lot better shape and I think mentally stronger, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Jacob Pauli

Can he make it three Kansas Relays championships in a row tomorrow?:

“I’d like to. It looks like it’s going to be good conditions again this year.”

On feeling any pressure to make it three in a row:

“No, not at all. I’ve just been focused on this year and my training so far. I really had a good indoor season. I didn’t put up any big numbers, but I was close.”

On the competition in the invite pole vault division:

“We run into each other almost every weekend anyway. I’m glad that finally a meet in the Midwest other the Drake Relays has been able to pull these good guys. These guys’ accomplishments are unbelievable. When I was in college I won the collegiate (level) and the invite just meant the top seven guys in the collegiate jumped again the next day which is way less exciting than this.”

Event Winners

Texas-San Antonio (4x100m women’s shuttle relay, 1st place, 56.91)

Senior Ryanne Dupree

On the performance:

“We ran a clean race. It’s important that you get through it, no fouling, no bumping, no sliding out of the blocks and that is what we did.”

Senior Lyndsey Sidney

On their performance:

“We kept our focus, kept our heads together, stayed down, stayed low, got out there and went after it. That is what you have to do.

On being way out front in UTSA’s heat:

“You have to keep the focus. You have to pretend that there is a team beside you the whole way and keep going after something.”

On breaking the school record

“We go after it every year. We broke it last year and just broke our own school record again, not with the same people but it’s even better having a freshman knowing that she can step it up and run like a senior.”

Nebraska (4x110m men’s shuttle hurdle relay, 1st place, 59.14)

Sophomore Pat Burke

On picking up a win

“It was good. It was my first time ever running this race. I was able to dust off the spikes and get up to the 42-inch level. It was good for us to get a win and put a good group together.”

On the weather conditions

“It’s almost perfect. You couldn’t really ask for more. It’s not too sunny where you get drained or too cloudy where you get kind of depressed. It’s a really good day to run track and field. It’s going to be a good weekend.”

On the race strategy

“The strategy is to be efficient and attack because if one guy goes down then the entire team is out. If everyone runs efficiently and aggressively then we can really do something good.”

Missouri (Women’s Shot Put, 55-00.25)

Junior Shernelle Nicholls

On her performance:

“[It went] pretty good. The weather was just right. I did my personal best.”

On competing at the Kansas Relays:

“I was here last year but competing with another school. I like it because it has a great legacy and has great performances here. I came again this year and had another good performance.”

Illinois (Distance Medley Relay, 1st place, 11:51.42)

Junior Rachel Hernandez

On the race:

“I think we did really well. We’ve been pacing ourselves and wanted to hit our splits. We didn’t know if the race was going to be close or not. We just wanted to get out there and do what we do in practice.”

On running with the lead:

“I think there was actually more pressure to hit our times. We were trying to hear our coaches calling out our split. It was really windy in the front stretch. Other then that, it was great. We did what we wanted to do.”

Cloud County CC (Distance Medley Relay, 1st place, 10:09.96)

Sophomore Johnny Shupping

On the performance:

“It was good. Everybody was running well.”

On the wind:

“I was running clever. I know when the wind blows I have to run behind somebody and in the end it worked for me.”

On becoming a Kansas Relays Champion two years in a row:

“It feels great. I don’t know what to say. There are no words; it’s just great.”

On the team:

“They’re happy. I was doing it all for my friends because they are going away to other school so I know I have push it hard.”

Kansas State (Women’s High Jump, 1st Place, 6-01.5)

Kaylene Wagner

On nearly setting the Relays record:

“It wasn’t really that big of a deal to me. I wasn’t jumping for the record, it was just the next mark that I was thinking about. It just worked out well.”

On maintaining her consistency:

“I just transferred last year to Kansas State. Last year was all about training and it was stressful because I was trying to change my approach seemingly all year. It just feels good to jump now and feel comfortable.”

Kansas State (Women’s Triple Jump, 1st Place, 42-11.75)

Marianne Schlachter

On winning the Kansas Relays:

“It felt good to win the Kansas Relays. I was happy with my performance, but I did the heptathlon yesterday, so I didn’t know how I would do. The conditions were very good, and I was very energized by the kids cheering me on in the crowd.”

Unattached – (Men’s Javeline, 1st Place, Relay Record 264-08)

Scott Russell

On performing at the Kansas Relays:

“It was great. It’s always fun performing in front of the home crowd. The crowd was great tonight. As always, whenever I ask for help they’re always there to support me. I was actually surprised with my performance tonight. It was a long winter and I’ve been working a lot on some technical things, but I was really shocked that it went as well as it did today. (KU throwing coach Andy) Kokhanovsky just told me to run and react and see what happens.”

On upcoming competition:

“On May 13, I leave for a series of meets in Brazil. After that, I am ready for whatever my agent prepares for me.”

Lincoln University (Men’s Triple Jump, 1st Place, 52-08.00)

Junior Wilbert Walker

On his performance today:

“I didn’t set a personal record today, but I was injured over the indoor season, so I just came out to see where I am right now. I feel very good. I just thank God for giving me the strength to come out here and perform to the best of my ability.”

On the conditions and crowd:

“The conditions were very good, it was just a bit windy, but that’s ok. The crowd gives you a lot of vibes.”

University of Illinois (Men’s Steeplechase, 1st Place, 9:28.45)

Senior Jon Houseworth

On his Kansas Relays experience:

“This was my first year here and I really liked it. I was actually born in Lawrence, so it’s kind of cool to come back here. I have relatives in Kansas City that came to watch and cheer me on. This is my last year. I wish I had some more years to come back and do it again.”

On the conditions:

“It was a little breezy on the backstretch, but other than that, it was perfect. The temperature is perfect; the sun went down, it was really nice conditions and the facilities are really nice, so I am really happy.”

Pacers/Brooks (Women’s Steeplechase, 1st place, Relay Record 10:07.30)

Trina Cox

On her record-breaking performance:

“It wasn’t necessarily a personal record for me. I’m a little bit disappointed because I ran a little bit slower than I was supposed to. The record is something good that came out of the race.”

On the weather conditions:

“The conditions were pretty windy, but I just fought through the wind. I was a little bit tired. It’s been a long trip, it was a long drive.”

On the Kansas Relays:

“I usually run at the Penn Relays and the Texas Relays. Kansas has a pretty nice track. I like the way the water pit is positioned. I like cutting in instead of going out. Instead of jumping on the outside, I liked jumping on the inside.”

University of Nebraska (Men’s Pole Vault, 1st Place, 17-02.75)

Senior Gable Baldwin

On the weather:

“This is great weather. There was a nice tailwind that helped us move down the runway.”

On competing at the Kansas Relays:

“It’s great. You’ve got the runway in the middle of the field. It’s kind of like it’s the premiere event. Everybody’s watching you from all angles. It’s awesome. It’s a great crowd here and an awesome atmosphere.”

Wichita State (Women’s 4 Mile Relay, 1st Place, 20:37.28)

Junior Chelsie Baldwin

On the team’s performance:

“I think the team did really well. We had a couple girls who also raced last night, too. It was rough for them to come back in and have to do a tough mile. Everybody did what they needed to do and it worked out.”

On the team’s comeback:

“I was pretty confident that I would move up right away to the top two, and I took it from there.”

On running at the Kansas Relays:

“This is my first time at Kansas Relays, actually. Overall, I thought it was a neat experience and I really liked running under the lights at night.”

On defending Wichita State’s title:

“It’s obviously something really important. This is my first semester here and I didn’t know about everything that happened before but this is the third year in the row for Wichita State. It’s pretty cool and we’re going to try to do it again next year.”

University of Illinois (Men’s 4 Mile Relay, 1st Place, 17:23.97)

Freshman Mike Murray

On the race:

“I think we are pretty happy. We just wanted to go out there and run our pace and not really worry about anyone else.”

On running with the lead:

“For me, I was the first guy, so I didn’t have to really worry about it. With this team, we are all freshmen, and for practice we know what the pace feels like.”