|Big 12 Indoor Championship
||Fri. – 10 a.m. | Sat. – 11 a.m.
||Lied Recreation Center
Notes Meet Notes
LAWRENCE, Kan. – It is a busy weekend across the country for Division I track & field programs, as teams gear up for conference championship action. The Kansas Jayhawks, who are competing in one of the fiercest leagues in the NCAA, will head to Ames, Iowa for the 2017 Big 12 Indoor Championship Feb 24-25. Seven of the nation’s top-25 teams will be featured between the men’s and women’s sides with the Jayhawk men entering the weekend with a No. 6 national ranking.
- This weekend, the Jayhawks will travel to Iowa State’s Lied Recreation Center, which is hosting the Big 12 Indoor Championship for the ninth time and seventh time since 2008.
- The Kansas men boast 27 team conference championships dating back to 1922 with the most recent coming in 1983. The run encompassed eight-consecutive team championships from 1952-59, including 17 championships in a 22-year span from 1950-71. The KU men’s highest finish in the Big 12 Conference was sixth place in 2006, 2013 and 2015.
- The Kansas women have notched 20 individual indoor league titles in the last nine years. In the 11 Big 12 indoor meets prior, the Jayhawks brought home a total of seven individual championships.
- The Lied Recreation Center, site of this year’s conference championship, has seen some of the best performances in Kansas history. Eight school records (four women’s, four men’s) have been set on the 300-meter track in Ames, including Strymar Livingston’s KU record in the 600 yards at last year’s conference meet.
- With six Jayhawk men among the top-10 of the Big 12 pole vault performance list, KU has a strong chance to pick up big points in the event. Kansas has seen one of its vaulters win a title at the league indoor meet in six of the last nine years and has averaged more than 16 points in the event over the last five championships.
- Freshman Gleb Dudarev enters his first conference championship as the league’s top-ranked weight thrower. He hopes to add to an already impressive Big 12 Championship resume for Jayhawk weight throwers, which have tallied six individual titles in the event since 2001, the most of any other school.
- Senior Sydney Conley will hit the runway for her final indoor league championship outing with hopes of claiming her first indoor long jump title as well as Kansas’ fourth since 2008. Conley currently sits at No. 2 in the conference long jump standings.
- Senior Strymar Livingston has a strong track record running the 800 meters in Ames, with two of his three fastest career clockings in the event coming inside the Lied Center. An 800-meter victory Saturday would mark the 15th indoor 800-meter or 880-yard league title in Kansas history and the first since 1992.
- The women’s distance medley relay team is less than a week removed from its school-record outing at the Alex Wilson Invite on Feb. 18. It will likely need a similar performance in Ames if it is to earn the Jayhawks their first DMR title at the Big 12 Championship.
KU’S BIG 12 STORYLINES
Can the Jayhawk men break 34-year Conference Championship cold spell?
It’s been more than a third of a century but the 2017 edition of the Kansas men’s track & field team appears primed to contend for its first league title since 1983 when it competes in Ames this weekend. The Jayhawk program had built nothing short of a dynasty in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and early 80s, winning 50 indoor and outdoor league championships from 1950-1983, with the final (and most recent) conference title coming at the 1983 indoor meet in Lincoln, Nebraska.
This year’s squad seems as prepared as any over the last 34 years to try and regain the magic from those glory years, entering the weekend as the nation’s No. 6 ranked team and the highest of its eight Big 12 foes. The team features 11 individuals who rank among the top-five of the 19 conference championship events as well as both the 4×400-meter and distance medley relays.
A team title will be no easy feat this weekend as the Jayhawks have never finished higher than sixth at the Big 12 Indoor Championship, which held its first meet in 1997. Only Texas and Oklahoma State have managed to hoist the trophy since the league went to a nine-team format in 2013.
Will the KU pole vaulters continue their conference dominance?
Over the last decade, the Big 12 Championship meets have been a platform for the Kansas pole vaulters to prove their talent and depth. On the men’s side, six of the last 10 indoor league champions have been Jayhawks with senior Jake Albright entering the meet this weekend as the league’s reigning outdoor champion in the event. Kansas’ depth in the pole vault has also been something the men have counted on to turn out some big points. Over the least five seasons, the KU men’s vaulters have averaged over 16 points with the Jayhawks combining for over 20 points in two of those years. Five Jayhawks are expected to hit the pole vault runway in Ames this weekend, each of whom are ranked inside the top-five of the league rankings, so Kansas should again expect a big output.
Who can punch their ticket to NCAAs?
The main priority for the Jayhawks this weekend will be their team finishes; however, each student-athlete will have NCAA qualification at the back of their mind. This week is the final opportunity for NCAA DI athletes to post marks that can punch their tickets to the national championship meet March 10-11 in College Station, Texas. Only the top-16 ranked athletes in each event will earn a bid as well as the top-12 ranked relay teams. The Jayhawk men are on the cusp of qualifying the most athletes to the NCAA indoor meet since the 1980’s with eight individuals and the 4×400-meter relays all sitting in qualifying position.
TEAM TITLE TALLIES
The Kansas men have a successful history at their conference’s indoor meet. The Jayhawks boast 27 team championships dating back to 1922 with the most recent coming in 1983. The run encompassed eight-consecutive team championships from 1952-59, including 17 championships in a 22-year span from 1950-71. The KU men’s highest finish in the Big 12 Conference was sixth place in 2006, 2013 and 2015.
On the women’s side, the Jayhawks won their first team championship four years ago. They have notched runner-up finishes four times since 1976. Kansas has placed third three times at the Big 12’s indoor meet, each of which have come in the last nine years.
KANSAS MEN TO NO. 6 IN NCAA RANKINGS
The Kansas men’s track & field team continued its climb up the national rankings after the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released its weekly top-25 Monday. The Jayhawks moved up two spots to check in at No. 6, marking the program’s highest ranking – indoors or outdoors – since the current weekly rankings system began in 2008.
The men find themselves ranked in the top-25 for the fifth-straight week this season. With the Big 12 Indoor Championship up next on the docket, the Jayhawks sit as the highest-ranked team among their conference foes. They are joined by three other Big 12 squads listed on this week’s chart, including No. 14 Texas, No. 16 Texas Tech and No. 20 Oklahoma State.
Kansas currently features nine athletes and a relay team that sit among the top-20 in their respective events. That number includes five Jayhawk pole vaulters, each of whom are ranked 15th or higher on this season’s NCAA vault chart.
DUDAREV CLAIMS BIG 12 ATHLETE OF THE WEEK HONORS FOR SECOND TIME
For the second time in three weeks, freshman thrower Gleb Dudarev was named the Big 12’s Male Track & Field Athlete of the Week it was announced by the league office on Feb. 15. On Feb. 9, Dudarev moved to No. 2 in the NCAA ranks with a personal-best weight throw toss at the Tyson Invitational. It was the second weekly award of his young KU career and the third time a Jayhawk male has been honored this season.
The award marks the third time a Jayhawk has been honored this indoor season as the league’s male athlete of the week following pole vaulter Jake Albright’s selection on Jan. 24 and Dudarev’s first award on Feb. 1. The three KU honors are the most earned by a Jayhawk squad in a single season – indoors or outdoors – since the conference began giving weekly awards in 2002.
This year’s Kansas track & field roster includes several athletes who come from some impressive track & field family backgrounds:
- Senior long jump specialist Sydney Conley is the daughter of Mike Conley, who won a gold medal in the triple jump at the 1992 Olympics while also breaking the world record in the event. Conley still holds the indoor American record in the triple jump (58-3¾). Sydney Conley is also the niece of KU track & field head coach Stanley Redwine.
- Sophomore pole vaulter Paulo Benavides’ father, Paul, held the Mexican national pole vault record for 12 years.
- Senior pole vaulter Nick Maestretti’s father, Lane, was two-time competitor in the decathlon at the Olympic Trials and at one time held the American record in the decathlon pole vault.
- Junior Dorie Dalzell is the daughter of Greg Dalzell, who ran track at KU from 1981-86 and was a member of the Big Eight championship team. Dalzell’s grandfather, Art, also ran track and cross country at KU in 1953 where he was a member of the national championship cross country team.
- Freshman Denzel Harper’s father, Derek, was a member of the Michigan track team and still holds the school’s indoor long jump record at 7.89 meters (25-10¾).
- Freshman Ethan Donley’s mother, Julie, competed in the 800 meters at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona.
Within its 2017 men’s and women’s rosters, Kansas returns four All-Americans, including senior long jumper Sydney Conley, who has garnered First Team All-America honors three times. Junior Sharon Lokedi is also back for the women after a breakthrough season in 2016, one which saw her claim Big 12 titles in the indoor 5,000 meters and outdoor 10,000 meters as well as First Team All-America status in both events. The KU duo is included on a women’s team that returns over 80 percent of the scorers who led the squad to fifth and fourth-place finishes at last year’s Big 12 indoor and outdoor meets.
On the men’s side, pole vaulter Jake Albright returns for his final year in the Crimson and Blue looking for his second conference championship in the event and leads perhaps the deepest pole vault group in the nation. Senior Mitch Cooper and junior Nicolai Ceban head up an impressive throws group primed for success in 2017. Cooper is the Big 12’s reigning discus champion and a two-time Second Team All-American, while Ceban will look to improve upon his 15th-place finish in the shot put at last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships.
Both the KU men’s and women’s rosters are full of new faces as nearly a third of the teams are made up of newcomers.
The 2017 edition of Kansas track & field once again boasts one of the most talented and deepest pole vault crews in the entire country. Tom Hays’ men’s and women’s crews are comprised of both seasoned veterans and promising underclassmen who are already making national waves early in the 2017 season.
On the men’s side, KU features five vaulters who sit inside the NCAA’s top-15, including seniors Jake Albright, Nick Maestretti, Nick Meyer and sophomores Paulo Benavides and Hussain Al Hizam, who moved toward the top of the national chart after stellar outings over the last six weeks. Albright finds himself at No. 5 in the nation following his 18-foot clearance in Lexington on Jan. 21. This is a good sign for the men’s vault group that has dominated on the conference and national level over the past decade. Kansas’ male vaulters have claimed first or second team All-America status eight times and have won 11 Big 12 titles since 2007.
This season also looks promising for the Jayhawks’ female vaulters. Junior Laura Taylor, redshirt sophomore Alexis Romero have already worked their way into the top-10 of Kansas’ all-time vault list during their first two years in Lawrence, with both sitting fifth among the Jayhawks’ female vaulters and 24th in the NCAA seasonal ranks. They are joined by freshman Andrea Willis, who has stormed onto the collegiate scene, already with a pair of event victories in her young KU career.
RECORD BOOK WATCH
A host of Jayhawks entered the 2017 calendar year in good position to continue to move up Kansas’ all-time indoor record books and have done just that. Thirty-six Jayhawks (18 men, 18 women) and three relay teams on this year’s roster currently find themselves among the top-10 performers on the school’s all-time charts. Senior Strymar Livingston, senior Hannah Richardson, junior Sharon Lokedi and, most recently, the men’s 4×400-meter relay and women’s distance medley relay squads are the team’s active school-record holders with Livingston as KU’s fastest in the 600 yards, Richardson the 3,000-meter record, while Lokedi boasts the school’s top 5,000-meter mark. The Eldoret, Kenya product also finds herself among the top-five in the 3,000 meters, while Livingston ranks third on the school’s 800-meter list.
Senior Jake Albright moved to No. 4 on KU’s indoor pole vault chart after his 5.54 meter (18-2) clearance at the McCravy Memorial on Jan. 21. Senior Nick Maestretti and sophomore Hussain Al Hizam joined their teammate in becoming one of the Jayhawks’ top-10 vaulters indoors with their marks of 5.46 meters (17-11) last week at the Arkansas Qualifier, sitting them in a tie for ninth in program history.
Senior Whitney Adams finds herself in the top-six in three different indoor events, which includes the No. 3 times in both the 600 yards and 800 meters. Senior sprinter Zainab Sanni has worked her way into KU’s all-time top-five in both the 60 meters and the 200 meters and is joined by Sydney Conley, who ranks sixth on the 60-meter list as well as fourth on the long jump chart.
The Kansas track & field program has seen a major youth resurgence this year, especially on the women’s side. Both teams feature a combined 33 athletes who are donning the KU singlet for the first time, which includes nearly a third (16 of the 54) of the athletes currently listed on the women’s team roster. Sixteen newcomers also comprise the 60-person men’s roster.
Several of those newcomers are expected to be in action for Kansas this weekend. For the men Isaiah Cole, Gleb Dudarev, Chris Gleghorn and Bryce Hoppel are scheduled to suit up in the Crimson and Blue. The women’s team will see Jedah Caldwell and Andrea Willis competing for the Jayhawks this weekend.
Head coach Stanley Redwine has taken Kansas track & field to a level it hasn’t seen in quite some time during his first 16 years at the helm. Over Redwine’s tenure, he has seen 110 indoor and outdoor Big 12 Champions, 156 First Team All-Americans and 15 NCAA Champions come through his program at KU.
Redwine’s teams have also collected a combined seven top-10 NCAA team finishes, including coaching the 2013 women’s team to the program’s first National Championship at the NCAA outdoor meet.
AT HOME IN ANSCHUTZ
The 31-year indoor home facility for the Kansas track & field team, Anschutz Pavilion, has hosted dozens of collegiate and high school meets since 1984. In August of 2011, the facility got a major facelift when a new six-lane track (eight lanes on the sprint straightaway) was installed, which replaced the original track installed in 1984.
Both the men’s and women’s teams in 2017 will feature a large batch of home-grown talent as the majority of the athletes on each roster hail from the Sunflower State. Twenty-six KU men and 23 Jayhawk women call Kansas home, with the next-most prolific state, Texas, boasting a combined 13 natives.
Kansas also has a handful of international athletes. On the men’s side, senior thrower Mitch Cooper hails from Queensland, Australia, senior Daniel Koech (Kenya), junior Nicolai Ceban (Moldova), sophomore Hussain Al Hizam (Saudi Arabia) and Ivan Henry (Jamaica) welcome in international freshman Gleb Dudarev (Belarus). For the women, Sharon Lokedi has continued the KU tradition of bringing in some of the top international talent in the NCAA. The junior distance specialist Sharon Lokedi calls Eldoret, Kenya home.
KANSAS TO HOST 2017 JUNIOR OLYMPICS
Rock Chalk Park, the home of Kansas track & field, will play host to the 2017 USA Track & Field National Junior Olympic Championships later this summer. The meet, which will be held in Lawrence July 23-30, 2017, will welcome the nation’s top athletes between the ages 7-18.
USA Track & Field youth chairs selected Lawrence over Des Moines, Iowa, Dec. 5, 2015 at their convention in Houston. The bid for the event was made in conjunction with eXplore Lawrence, the city’s tourism bureau. Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger, associate athletic director Doug Banks and head coach Stanley Redwine made a special trip to Houston to assist in the presentation made by Sanner of eXplore Lawrence. Rock Chalk Park opened in the spring of 2014 and has played host to the Kansas Relays three times, one of the largest and longest-running high school and collegiate meets in the Midwest, and is set to be the site of Big 12 Outdoor Championship in May of 2017. The Junior Olympics will be the first USATF event held at Jayhawks’ three-year-old facility.
The Jayhawks will find out Tuesday which athletes qualify for 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships set to take place March 10-11. The meet will be held inside Gilliam Indoor Track in College Station, Texas. Kansas will then kick off the outdoor campaign at the Emporia State Relays March 18 in Emporia, Kansas.
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