Kansas Men Open Midwest Regionals with Trio of Champions

May 25, 2007


Egor Agafonov, Barrett Saunders and Jordan Scott all collected Midwest Regional victories Friday at the Jim Duncan Track in <?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>Des Moines, Iowa. Julius Jiles, Ashley Brown and the women’s 4×100-meter relays all qualified for the regional finals in track events. After day one, the men’s team has scored 41 points and sits in first, while the women’s team has yet to score but is poised for a big day Saturday. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Saunders started the day off well for the Jayhawks, winning the long jump with a leap of 25-09.25 (7.85m). The junior now can add a Midwest Regional title to the Big 12 crown he captured two weeks earlier and has three jumps this outdoor season over 7.80m.

“I just hope to carry on the momentum from today to nationals,” Saunders said. “I feel like I have some bigger jumps still left in me. It is great to have a training partner like Eric (Babb) there to push and motivate me in competition and practice.”

Also in the event, senior Eric Babb set a new personal record with a jump of 25-02.75 (7.69m), good for third place. Babb and Saunders both have qualified for the NCAA Championships June 6-9 in Sacramento, Calif.

“It is definitely nice to go with Barrett to the NCAA Championships,” Babb said. “I also feel like I have some bigger jumps left in me and together, I think Barrett and I can do some big things at the NCAAs.”

Their coach, Milan Donley, has been thrilled with the performance and maturation of the two long jumpers.

“The pair are more consistent in their training and have developed a better technical awareness of their jumps,” Donley said.

Junior Egor Agafonov persevered his way through some early struggles to capture the regional hammer throw crown for the second-straight year. The Big 12 hammer throw champion finished with a winning throw of 223-00 (67.97m).

“Today was a hard meet with some very tough competition, but I am glad that I did well today,” Agafonov said. “This meet is one of the biggest competitions for me and my team. It featured several very strong competitors and was really hard.”

Freshman Jordan Scott continued to tear his way through the competition, winning the pole vault by clearing 17-05.00 (5.31m). The Big 12 indoor and outdoor champion is now headed to the NCAA Championships looking to keep the momentum going.

“Today’s accomplishment was just another dream come true,” Scott said. “I hope to carry over the momentum from today’s event and from the Big 12 Championships to the NCAA National Championships and give the national field a run for their money. It is always great to compete in front of my parents and make them proud. My father was here today, so anytime I get a chance to jump in front of them, I want to make it special.”

Senior Cody Roberts finished fourth in the discus with a throw of 186-10 (56.94m). He will be participating in his second-consecutive NCAA Championships in the event with his performance.

The women’s 4×100-meter relay team advanced to the finals of the event on Saturday by one one-hundredths of a second, finishing with the eighth-fastest time in the qualifying heats, 45.52 seconds. The team of Crystal Manning, Ashley Brown, Victoria Howard and Sha’Ray Butler edged out Texas-Arlington, who finished in 45.33.

Junior Ashley Brown and senior Janiece Gatson both qualified for the finals of the 400-meter hurdles. Brown was the top qualifier, finishing in 57.84 seconds while Gatson ran her preliminary heat in 59.91 seconds. Junior Julius Jiles qualified for the finals in the 110-meter hurdles, finishing in 13.85 seconds.

The NCAA Midwest Regionals conclude Saturday. Click here for live results from Saturday’s action.