Two More Jayhawks Punch Tickets to Fayetteville

May 30, 2009

NORMAN, Okla.Keith Hayes and Lauren Bonds qualified for the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in their respective events to highlight the final day for the Jayhawks at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships at the John Jacobs Track and Field Complex.

After three false starts reduced the 110-meter hurdles finals to six competitors, Hayes turned in a time of 13.79 to place second and punch his ticket to Nationals. It marked the second time in his career and second in two days that the freshman from Wichita, Kan., ran the race in under 14 seconds. Hayes posted the second-best 110-meter time in Kansas history Friday with his 13.73 in the prelims.

“It feels like a relief, like a big weight is off my shoulders now,” Hayes said. “I went through all this adversity during the season, so to finally have a breakthrough feels pretty good.”

“We’re really, really excited for Keith,” Kansas head coach Stanley Redwine added. “To not make the finals at the Big 12 Championships and to come back and get second at the regional, he really stepped up and got it done. We’re proud of Keith and what Coach (Elisha) Brewer has done with him.”

Hayes said that the false starts by his opponents added an extra challenge to an already important race.

“It was frustrating. I was mad because it was three times and I had three good starts. So I took a deep breath, kept my composure and finished the race.”

Now that he has booked his trip to the NCAA Championships, Hayes is ready to take it to the next level.

“The sky is the limit now,” Hayes said. “I didn’t know what I could do until now, but now I have some idea. I know the old Keith is back now, so the sky is the limit now. I’m going for the championship.”

Bonds recorded a time of 4:26.04 to qualify for Nationals. The junior from Hutchinson, Kan., began the race in the middle of the pack and stood seventh through 400 meters. Bonds held the same spot through 800 meters, but improved to sixth heading into the final lap. Right at the 1,200-meter mark, she blew past the fifth-place runner to take the spot for herself, a spot she would not relinquish. Bonds cruised to the finish, ending up 4.37 seconds ahead of sixth-place Ashley Miller of Nebraska to earn a spot in Fayetteville.

“Lauren did a great job,” Redwine said. “It’s her first qualifying in an individual event for the NCAAs. We can’t be any more proud of her and what Coach (Doug) Clark has done with her.”

Nickesha Anderson came up two spots short of an automatic NCAA Championships bid in the 200 meters, but like in the 100 she has a solid chance of making it at-large. The senior from Hanover, Jamaica, placed seventh in Saturday’s 200 finals in a time of 23.66.

Brian Bishop took seventh place in the discus with a throw of 54.62 meters (179-02 feet). The junior from Cantrall, Ill., is now in the at-large pool for Nationals with his top-12 finish.

Stephanie Horton and Emily Reimer placed 11th and 16th, respectively, in the shot put to fall short of an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Horton, a senior from Tigard, Ore., recorded a mark of 15.18 meters (49-09.75 feet) while Reimer, a senior from Wichita, Kan., posted a throw of 14.76 meters (48-05.25 feet). By finishing in the top 12, Horton will now hope to land an at-large berth for the NCAAs.

Despite a career-best jump, Kirk Cooper finished in a tie for 13th place in the pole vault. The junior from Centennial, Colo., recorded a mark of 5.06 meters (16-07.25 feet).

“We have several athletes in the at-large pool, so we’re hoping that they get in,” Redwine explained. “At this point, it’s not in our hands. It’s in the hands of the committee. We’re looking forward to knowing what happens. I truly believe that Nickesha will get into both the 100 and 200, and hopefully Brian Bishop will get into the discus. We’ll wait and see.”

Three Jayhawks (Zlata Tarasova, Lauren Bonds and Keith Hayes) qualified automatically this weekend for the NCAA Championships, which are set to be held June 10-13 in Fayetteville, Ark. Whether or not the Kansas trio is joined by any more teammates will be determined in the next couple days.

“Heading into Nationals, the thing with Nickesha is she has to be healthy,” Redwine said. “I think our trainers are doing everything they can to make sure that she is going to be at 100 percent, so hopefully she will have a chance to be at her best. In addition to that, we’re looking forward to everyone else competing. It should be an exciting time.”