Four Kansas Athletes Advance to 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships at Thursday's West Preliminary Meet
May 26, 2011
EUGENE, Ore. –
In less than ideal weather conditions, Kansas track and field got off to a solid start on the first day of action at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships–West Preliminary here Thursday afternoon at the historic Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. Four Jayhawk athletes punched their ticket to the 2011 NCAA Championships, which will be held at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, June 8-11.
Despite competing in temperatures in the mid-50’s and a steady rain, KU sophomore thrower Mason Finley continued his dominance in the field as he captured the shot put title with his throw of 19.70 meters (64-07.75 ft.). Finley led nearly the whole competition as he opened with a distance of 18.52 meters. He then tossed the shot 18.53 meters on his second attempt, before separating himself from the field of 48 with his third attempt and winning toss of 19.70 meters (64-07.75 ft.).
With a large lead in hand, Finley was able to pass on all three of his attempts in the finals and still come away with the win. In addition, he was able to conserve energy for Saturday’s discus competition.
“It was pretty good performance,” said Finley. “I haven’t thrown 70 (19.70 meters) in awhile so it was pretty nice I did that especially with it being in the rain. I didn’t throw my last three because I got a good mark out and I didn’t want to pull my groin or do anything dumb.”
Kansas sophomore thrower Heather Bergmann got things started off right for the Jayhawks as she was the first KU athlete to advance to the NCAA Championship meet by finishing fifth in the javelin with her mark of 49.94 meters (163-10ft.) in the opening event of the meet.
“I came in on the borderline and I knew I was the first KU athlete competing so I wanted to set a really good tone,” said Bergmann. “I feel great that I was able to advance to nationals and hopefully inspire some of my teammates to pull out good performances of their own.”
Bergmann immediately put herself in the final round of 16 by turning in a toss of 48.01 meters (157-06 ft.) on her first attempt. She moved into the finals in the 13th position, one spot out of earning a bid to the NCAA Championships.
On her fifth attempt of the afternoon the Concordia, Kan., native unleashed her second farthest throw of her career by recording her mark of 49.94 meters (163-10 ft.), which moved her up into fourth place with one final round of throws remaining. Bergmann did not improve on her mark and was edged in the last round, putting her in fifth place overall.
“Going into finals I was in 13th place and it was the worst feeling in the world,” said Bergmann, as only the top 12 athletes advance to the NCAA Championships. “On my fifth throw I finally made it and was a big rush of relief. It is a great feeling. It is really exciting because last year I didn’t throw well at this meet and it has been my goal for a whole year now to go to nationals.”
KU sophomore jumper Andrea Geubelle advanced to the NCAA Championships in the first of two events she competes in as she finished eighth place in the long jump Friday. Geubelle, who will also attempt to qualify in the triple jump and as a member of the Jayhawk 4×100-meter relay team, recorded a top mark of 6.18 meters (20-03.50 ft.).
“It was definitely really hard conditions to jump in today,” said Geubelle, of the rain-soaked conditions. “The board was slippery. It was cold and hard to stay warm. I’m kind of used to it I guess. I’ve become acclimated to Kansas weather. It was an okay performance. My goal was to get into nationals and I did that so I guess we’ll call it a good day.”
Geubelle, a native of University Place, Wash., entered finals in 13th position after turning in a top mark of 6.01 meters in the preliminary round. Geubelle then moved up to ninth place on her fourth overall attempt and first attempt in the finals with her mark of 6.12 meters. She followed that up with her best leap of the day at 6.18 meters on her fifth attempt, moving up one more spot to eighth place.
“I was really trying to get some height off the board,” said Geubelle. “I did not want to just flat line into the pit, which I still did on a few jumps. I got a lot of speed behind my jumps which helped a lot. I just took it one step at a time.”
Jayhawk freshman Johann Swanepoel was the fourth Kansas athlete to make it to Des Moines as he took home a ninth-place finish in the men’s javelin. Swanepoel entered Friday’s finals in 11th place with his top preliminary mark of 66.96 meters (219-08 ft.), but quickly found himself on the outside looking in as two athletes quickly moved in front of him on their first attempt in the finals.
Swanepoel responded by improving his position back up to 12th place with his fourth attempt of the day with his mark of 67.87 meters (222-08 ft.). He then made a big leap up into ninth place with his fifth attempt of the day as he improved to 69.36 meters (227-06 ft.). There was no movement in the standings in the sixth round of throws, which resulted in Swanepoel concluding the day in ninth place.
“I did not throw very well today, but I am still recovering from a shoulder injury,” said Swanepoel of his performance. “I qualified for nationals and that is all I came here to do. Everyone is a little nervous in that situation, but you just have to buckle down and try to do your best and luckily I was able to do that.”
Kansas freshman phenom Diamond Dixon continued to impress in the 400 meters as she easily advanced to Friday’s quarterfinal round by winning her heat with a time of 53.44. Dixon, who owns the fastest time in the NCAA this season at 51.55, coasted for the first 300 meters of her first round heat before turning it up a notch down the stretch for the win.
“I wasn’t too happy about the lane that I got but I just tried to go out and give it my all and win my heat and move onto the next round,” said Dixon, who was assigned lane one. “It was pretty wet on my inside lane. I stepped in a lot of puddles. I wasn’t trying to act like it was nice and bright and sunny. I just tried to push through it. I’m going to do whatever it takes to make it to nationals.”
Fellow KU sprinter Kendra Bradley also qualified for Friday’s quarterfinal round as she clocked in at 54.61 in her first round heat. Bradley was a non-automatic qualifier, but ran in the fastest heat and qualified for the next round on time. The senior from Leavenworth, Kan., battled all the way around the track, and looked especially strong down in the final 100 meters as she crossed the finish line in fifth place in her heat.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” said Bradley of her first round race. “It was kind of tough running in the puddles, but I was just working on staying close to the pack and getting on to the next round.”
Dixon and Bradley will compete in the 400 meters quarterfinals Friday afternoon at 3:50 p.m. (PST). Dixon enters the race with the second fastest qualifying time, while Bradley advanced with the 20th fastest time of the day. Dixon will also compete on the Jayhawk 4×100 and 4×400-meter relay teams on Saturday afternoon, while Bradley will compete on the 4×400-meter relay.
“I’m gonna try to make it through to nationals,” said Bradley, of her focus moving forward. “That’s all I’m going to worry about. Not about what lane I get or anything like that. Just going out there and PR’ing and getting the time I need to make it (to Des Moines).”
Kansas sophomore sprinter Kyle Clemons advanced in the men’s 400 meters as he clocked in with a time of 47.26. Clemons opened up strong through the first 300 meters and was in third place with about 60 meters to go before losing steam. He managed to make the quarterfinal round after qualifying on time, despite finishing fifth in his heat. He enters Friday’s quarterfinal round, which will begin at 4:05 p.m. (PST), with the 21st fastest qualifying time.
“Today was just about doing enough to move on,” said Clemons, who competed at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 400 meters. “The conditions weren’t the best today. I did enough to qualify, but I could’ve run a better race. I got fifth in my heat, but I got one of the top times after that so I’m thankful.”
Jayhawk junior Cori Christensen advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinal round of the 1,500 meters after setting a new personal best in the event in the first round with her time of 4:24.59. Christensen was one of 24 runners to move onto the next round.
Christensen battled throughout her first-round race. She stayed in the middle of the tight pack for the first lap and half before falling towards the back at about the 900 meters mark. Christensen then made a move to close the gap and was back near the middle with one lap to go. On the final 300 meters of the race, she made a significant push and was edged at the line for the fifth and final automatic qualifying spot. However, her time of 4:24.59 was one of the top four fastest non-automatic qualifying times, advancing her to Saturday’s quarterfinals.
“I was falling back and I was just like, `Lord, give me wings,’ and he did,” said Christensen, of her push down the stretch. “Coach (Whittlesey) has been giving us excellent work outs that have helped us peak at the right times. I really felt that today. I had some good spunk in my legs in that last lap.”
Fellow junior Donny Wasinger also advanced to Saturday’s 1,500 meter quarterfinals, but in much less dramatic fashion. The Winona, Minn., native led for much of his first round race on Thursday before giving away the lead in the last 200 meters as he coasted to a third place finish with his time of 3:46.49.
“It’s working out in these races that they’re not going out quite as fast as I want them to, so I usually end up doing most of the work and getting the race to actually be a race, not just a kick-race,” said Wasinger. “Having to do all the work and still beginning able to finish up there is good though. I got second in that heat and I’m happy about it. I feel strong and quick. I’m feeling good.”
Wasinger will run in the 1,500 meters quarterfinals Saturday at 1:45 p.m. (PST). He enters the race with the eighth fastest qualifying time. The top 12 finishers in Saturday’s quarterfinal race will advance to Des Moines.
Senior pole vaulter Jordan Scott was a victim of the rainy weather conditions and did not advance to the 2011 NCAA Championships after finishing in a tie for 14th place. Scott, the defending NCAA Champion in the pole vault, passed on the first two heights of the meet before entering with the bar at 5.15 meters (16-10.75 ft.). Scott missed on his first two attempts at the height before clearing the bar on his third attempt. After multiple rain delays in the event over the next hour, Scott was unable to clear the bar at 5.20 meters resulting in the end of his KU career. In addition to winning an NCAA title, Scott also was a seven-time Big 12 Champion in the event and earned All-America honors on four different occasions.
NCAA Championships – West Prelims
100 Meters (First Round)
45. Denesha Morris, 12.13
400 Meters (First Round)
2. Diamond Dixon, 53.44 (Advanced to Quarterfinals)
20. Kendra Bradley, 54.61 (Advanced to Quarterfinals)
46. Taylor Washington, 57.29
1,500 Meters (First Round)
24. Cori Christensen, 4:24.59 ***Personal Record*** (Advanced to Quarterfinals)
Long Jump (semifinals)
8. Andrea Geubelle, 6.18m (20-03.50 ft.) (Advances to Finals)
20. Francine Simpson, 5.92m (19-05.25 ft.)
Shot Put (semifinals)
40. Jessica Maroszek, 13.88m (45-06.50 ft.)
Javelin Throw (semifinals)
5. Heather Bergmann, 49.94m (163-10 ft.) (Advances to Finals)
400 Meters (First Round)
21. Kyle Clemons, 47.26 (Advances to Quarterfinals)
29. Keron Toussaint, 47.66
1,500 Meters (First Round)
8. Donny Wasinger, 3:46.49 (Advances to Quarterfinals)
Pole Vault (semifinals)
t-14. Jordan Scott, 5.15m (16-10.75 ft.)
t-28. Alex Bishop, 4.90m (16-00.75 ft.)
Shot Put (semifinals)
1. Mason Finley, 19.70m (64-07.75 ft.) (Advances to Finals)
Javelin Throw (semifinals)
9. Johann Swanepoel, 69.36 (227-06 ft.)
28. Jesse Vaughn, 60.35m (198-0 ft.)
36. Iain Trimble, 58.23m (191-0 ft.)