Four Sunday Champions Lead KU Men on Final Day of Big 12 Championships
May 5, 2013
WACO, Texas – The Kansas men’s track & field team saw four individual conference titles claimed by Jayhawks as the team competed on the third and final day of the Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The team amassed 82.5 points to claim a fifth-place finish in the team standings, its highest finish at the league meet since placing fourth in 2005.
Jesse Vaughn started off the day strong for the Jayhawks as he etched his name into the storied history of Kansas javelin throwers Sunday morning. The senior out of Shawnee Heights, Kan., came into the day with the Big 12’s fourth-best throw of the season on his only competitive mark this year at 65.49 meters (214’10”).
Vaughn shot to the top of the leaderboard on his first throw of the day, a heave of 67.78 meters (222’4″). He would never descend from first place after that; in fact, no other competitor was able to come within 13 feet of Vaughn’s first toss. With the victory in tow, the senior made one final trip down the runway and put a stamp on his win by notching his top throw of the day. Vaughn closed out the competition with a winning mark of 67.86 meters (222’8″) to earn his first conference championship.
Vaughn’s victory marks the 27th time a Jayhawk has taken home a league javelin title and the first since KU legend Scott Russell won the event in 2002. Vaughn’s top mark moves him to No. 16 in the NCAA West Regional rankings, which should earn him a spot at the NCAA Preliminary meet in three weeks.
Senior Kyle Clemons also turned in the performance of his career has he raced to his first league championship. The Rowlett, Texas native was never challenged in the event. Clemons built a two-stride lead through the first 200 meters and never looked back, coming off the final curve with the victory all but clinched. He extended his lead down the final 100-meter stretch and crossed the finish in a time no Jayhawk has ever reached. Clemons completed the quarter-mile race in a school record 45.10 to win the event and outpace the field by nearly half a second.
Clemons’ conference title is the first at the 400-meter distance for a Jayhawk since Joe Picket won the event at the Big Eight meet in Lawrence, Kan., in 1994. His winning time is also the second-fastest time recorded in the NCAA this year and puts Clemons at No. 4 on the 2013 world performance list.
Michael Stigler backed up his 2012 Big 12 400-meter hurdle title with another at this year’s league meet. The sophomore entered the weekend boasting the NCAA’s fastest time at 49.42. His spot atop the nation and the league standings wouldn’t be challenged Sunday. Stigler opened up a sizeable lead midway through the race and never looked back, using his signature kick down the final 50 meters to close out the defense of his league championship. The Canyon, Texas native crossed the finish in 49.79, earning his second outdoor title in the event and becoming the first KU male to repeat as conference champion in a track event since Anthony Coleman won back-to-back 110-meter hurdle titles in 1978 and 1979.
Clemons and Stigler returned to the track later in the evening to try and earn Kansas its first conference win in a relay since the Jayhawks won the 440-yard relay in 1979. Joined by sophomore DeMario Johnson and freshman Kenneth McCuin, the four combined to make program history in the event. Clemons led off and put a huge distance between him and the rest of the field before he handed off to Johnson. The middle legs, Johnson and Stigler, kept the Jayhawks in a comfortable lead as they headed into the final 400 meter leg. The anchor, McCuin, held off strong charges from TCU and Kansas State down the final 200 meters as he crossed the finish in 3:07.72 to take gold.
The mile-relay team’s win collected the final 10 points of the men’s team total, ending the Jayhawks’ meet with 82.5 points. The point total is the most by a Kansas men’s team at a Big 12 meet since the 2005 squad tallied 85 points.
Earlier in the day the men’s middle distance and distance members of the squad added some valuable points. Junior Josh Munsch posted a career-best in the 1,500 meters, finishing the race in 3:41.58 to take third in the event. His time puts him at No. 17 on this season’s NCAA performance list and is the fifth-fastest 1,500 meters ever run at the University of Kansas.
Munsch then returned to the track to turn in another career best and add a point in the 5,000 meters. The Hays, Kan., native completed the 3.2-mile race in 14:16.13, bettering his previous best by over 15 seconds and earn an eighth-place finish in the event.
Brendan Soucie found himself among a competitive field in the finals of the 800 meters. The junior out of Osawatomie, Kan., completed the two laps in 1:51.21 to claim the bronze medal in the event and an additional six points toward the Jayhawk total.
Kansas again saw a big scoring output from the men’s pole vaulters. Sophomore Casey Bowen was the top KU finisher as he notched a runner-up finish with his top clearance of 5.19 meters (17’0.25″), a personal best. Junior Alex Bishop and freshman Nick Maestretti each tied for sixth-place, both clearing a best bar of 5.04 meters (16’6.5″). The three combined for 11 points, the most by a Jayhawk group in a single event on the weekend.
The Kansas men will now continue their drive toward the NCAA Championships when they travel to Atlanta, Ga., for the Georgia Tech Invitational May 10-11. There, the Jayhawks have one final chance to earn marks that will extend their 2013 outdoor seasons. For updates and a complete recap on KU’s performances, log on to KUAthletics.com and follow on twitter at KUTrack.
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