Simpson Crowned Long Jump Champion on Day Two of Big 12 Championships
May 12, 2012
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MANHATTAN, Kan. – Junior Francine Simpson collected her second league long jump title this season and first outdoor title of her career Saturday at the Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships hosted by Kansas State University. Simpson’s victory helped the KU women take the overnight lead in the team point standings with only one day of competition remaining.
The Kansas women saw their second athlete take home a league title on the weekend as Francine Simpson joined Alena Krechyk as a 2012 Big 12 Outdoor Champion. Simpson entered the day as the defending indoor long jump champion and was looking to duplicate the feat for the outdoor season.
Simpson was joined by fellow indoor long jump All-American Andrea Geubelle in the event Saturday. Geubelle was the early leader as she duplicated her season-best jump of 6.50 meters (24-04 ft.) on her third attempt of the day. Simpson was in a close second after the first three rounds, hitting a mark of 6.41 meters (21-0.5 ft.).
In the finals, Simpson made her way down the runway for the fifth time, and launched to a distance of 6.67 meters (21-10.75 ft.). The mark would have been a school record if not for the 2.4 meter per second assisting wind, however the wind did not prevent Simpson from recording a new personal best and the 2012 conference title. Geubelle was able to remain in second place adding an additional eight points to Simpson’s 10.
The win is Simpson’s second conference title of her career and the first outdoor Big 12 victory. Her victory marks the fifth time a Jayhawk has won an outdoor conference championship in the long jump and first since 1983.
Lindsay Vollmer and Rebecca Neville began their second day of competition as the two competed in the final three events of the women’s heptathlon. Vollmer was in the mix until the very end as she led the point standings with only one event remaining. The freshman won her second event of the two-day competition, claiming the javelin throw with a mark of 41.69 meters (136-09 ft.). Vollmer would be overtaken in the point standings following the 800-meters, but was still able to record a new personal best with 5,517 points. The point total earned Vollmer a third-place finish in the event and gives her the 15th best mark in the nation. Neville earned 4,798 points through the seven events to finish 13th.
The women’s pole vaulters also had a successful day at the R.V. Christian Track Complex. Sophomore Demi Payne entered the day as the league’s second-ranked vaulter and was joined by teammate Jaimie House among the Big 12’s top-10 female vaulters. KU saw five of its six competitors move on past the first height and an additional three clearing the first two bars. Payne was able to clear 4.13 meters (13-06.50 ft.) on her third attempt at that height. The clearance moved Payne into third, where she would end her day.
With Payne’s third-place finish, House’s tie at sixth place and senior Julia Cummings’ eighth-place finish, the KU vaulters were able to amass 9.5 points toward the women’s team total, the second-most of any team in the competition.
The KU women sit in first-place in the team standings with only one day remaining of the Big 12 Championships. Their 53.5 points leads second-place team Texas A&M by 15 and the third-place squad, Oklahoma, by 17.5. Twelve events remain to be scored on Sunday as the KU women look to bring home their first conference title in program history.
On the men’s side, Mason Finley looked to collect his third-consecutive outdoor shot put title. The junior only recorded two fair throws on the day, however was able to contend the leaders for the entire competition. The Salida, Colo. native opened with a toss of 18.72 meters (61-05 ft.) to quickly shoot up the leaderboard. On his final try of the preliminary flight, Finley launched to a mark of 19.23 meters (63-01.25 ft.) to easily claim a spot in the finals with the field’s No. 2 throw. Finley fouled on each of his last three attempts in the finals and was unable to overtake Texas’ Jacob Thormaehlen, who won the event. Finley finished as the runner-up, collecting eight points toward the men’s team total.
Also scoring for the men on Saturday was junior Chris Toombs in the long jump. The Junction City, Kan. native snuck into the final round of the event as the eighth and final competitor. Toombs then went on to improve upon his previous best on his sixth and final attempt, hitting a mark of 7.41 meters (24-03.75 ft.). The jump moved Toombs up to seventh, where he would remain. The finish earned an additional two points to the team’s collection.
After Finley’s and Toombs’ heroics Saturday, the KU men currently sit in seventh among the team standings having collected 21 points. There is sure to be movement in the standing Sunday as the teams that sit at third, fourth, fifth and seventh are only separated by three points.
It was the day of preliminary races on the track as the KU men and women looked to qualify for finals, which will be held Sunday. The first to move on was senior Rebeka Stowe, who ran to the third-fastest prelim time in the 1,500 meters. She crossed the finish line in 4:25.48, placing second in her heat and third overall.
Defending Big 12 400-meter champion Diamond Dixon started strong in her journey to repeat this season. The sophomore won her heat of qualifying races with a time of 52.24 to earn the automatic trip to the finals. Dixon’s time was the second-fastest among the qualifiers. She will be joined by teammate Taylor Washington who will run in her first 400-meter final Sunday. Washington was the final runner to qualify as her time of 54.39 was among the fastest outside of each heat’s top two finishers.
Paris Daniels may have had KU’s top performances of the day in her qualifying races. The junior started by finishing second overall in the 100-meter dash prelims with her wind-legal time of 11.31, which was just .01 seconds slower than the best time in the qualifying round.
Daniels then went on to run to the second-fastest time in school history in the 200-meter prelims. She clocked in with a wind-legal time of 22.89, which gives her an automatic trip to the Olympic Trials later this year. Daniels will enter the finals of the Big 12 event with the second-fastest qualifying time and the No. 4 200-meter time in the NCAA this year.
For the men, freshman Michael Stigler turned some heads with his time in the 400-meter hurdles. Stigler cleared the 10 hurdles in 50.37, which gave him the fastest qualifying time as he prepares for the final Sunday. Stigler’s time is the seventh-fastest in the NCAA and moves him up to No. 3 on the all-time school performance list.
One other Jayhawk able to cement himself into finals was junior Kyle Clemons who ran a season-best 46.67 in the 400 meters. The time earned Clemons the fourth-fastest time overall in the qualifying round and moves the Rowlett, Texas native up to No. 23rd in the NCAA Rest Region.
The final day of the 2012 Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships will kick off at 1 p.m. Sunday with the women’s triple jump, women’s discus and men’s pole vault. Action from the track will begin at 3 p.m. with the running of the 4×100-meter relays. Stay updated on all the Jayhawks’ performances via the meet central page at KUAthletics.com and follow on twitter at KU_Track. A complete recap, results and videos will be posted after the completion of the day’s events.