Jayhawks send strong contingent to West Prelims

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas men’s and women’s track & field teams have a total of 23 entries in the 2019 NCAA Division I Track & Field West Preliminary Round at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, California, May 23-25. The KU men take 12 entries to the West Prelims, while the Jayhawk women have 11 entries.

The West Preliminary is the gateway to the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the Jayhawks. The top-48 declared athletes in each individual event and the top-24 relay teams will compete in the preliminary rounds. From there, the top-12 finishers in each event at each of the two preliminary sites will move on to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin, Texas, June 5-8. Fans can follow the action in Sacramento by watching the live stream provided by FloTrack or with live results via FlashResults.com.

The Jayhawks are coming off the Big 12 Championship where both teams finished fifth in the team standings. The Kansas men picked up three conference titles, with Bryce Hoppel winning the 800 meters, Gleb Dudarev winning his third-straight hammer throw crown and Cordell Tinch winning the 110-meter hurdles on his way to earning the Co-Men’s High Point Performer award for his 18 total points scored at the meet. The KU women had one conference champ, sophomore Alexandra Emilianov, who won back-to-back conference titles in the discus.

The Kansas men achieved their highest ranking of the 2019 outdoor season, coming in at No. 20 in the week eight USTFCCCA National Ratings Index. The Kansas women are slowly climbing up the charts as well, coming in at No. 44. The week eight rankings take in to consideration only entries into the preliminary rounds.

Kansas freshman Cordell Tinch has showed he’s one of the most versatile athletes in the nation and has caught the attention of Big 12 coaches, as he was named the Men’s Outstanding Freshman of the Year. Tinch was a busy man at the Big 12 Outdoor Championship, competing in the long jump on Saturday, where he went on to place seventh in the event. He also competed in the high jump on Saturday and finished third while also qualifying for the 110-meter hurdles final the same day. On Sunday, Tinch was a member of the 4×100-meter relay team that placed ninth before going on to win the conference title in the 110-meter hurdles to score a total of 18 points on the weekend, earning him the Co-Men’s High Point Performer award.

The freshman is entered in three events at the West Prelims (long jump, high jump, 110-meter hurdles) and is the first Kansas athlete to compete in three events at the meet since 2013 when now Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame member Diamond Dixon did so, running in the 400-meter dash, while also competing as a member of the 4×100 and 4×400-meter relay teams.

Junior Bryce Hoppel, the 2019 NCAA indoor 800-meter national champion, improved his individual-race win streak to 15 at the Big 12 Championship, winning his preliminary heat, then claiming the 800-meter conference crown with a time of 1:45.95. Hoppel will now look for wins No. 16 and 17 at the West Prelims, but more importantly, the Midland, Texas native will look to return to the NCAA Outdoor Championships by finishing in the top-12 in Sacramento. Hoppel earned a ticket to NCAAs in 2018, where he eventually finished fourth in the 800 meters with a career-best time of 1:45.67 to earn First Team All-America honors.

Kansas Jayhawks

Sophomore thrower Alexandra Emilianov won her second-straight Big 12 title in the discus at the 2019 Big 12 Championship in Norman, Oklahoma with a season-best mark of 58.01 meters (190-4 ft.). The sophomore qualified for the West Prelims as the No. 4-seeded discus thrower in the region and is currently ranked No. 6 in the NCAA in the discus. Last season, Emilianov earned a trip to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the discus, where she earned Second Team All-America honors by finishing 12th.

Although Kansas is known as being a school that is highly successful in pole vault year-in and year-out, the KU men’s outdoor school record in the event stood unchanged for 36 years, until the 2019 Kansas Relays. At 5.76 meters (18-10.75 ft.), Jeff Buckingham’s school record was an American Record in 1983, but freshman Zach Bradford was able to take it down on his way to a KU Relays title this season. Bradford cleared 5.77 meters (18-11 ft.) to claim the school record, go above and beyond the 2019 IAAF World Championships qualifying standard (5.71m) and record the No. 2 mark in the NCAA and No. 4 mark in the world at the time. The mark currently is No. 3 in the NCAA and No. 6 in the world, and Bradford enters the NCAA West Prelims as the No. 2-seeded pole vaulter in the region.

Fifth-year senior Alexis Romero is leaving it all on the runway in her final go-round in the Crimson and Blue. At her final Big 12 Outdoor Championship, Romero became just the sixth KU women’s athlete to join the 14-foot club, finishing in a tie for second at 4.27 meters (14-0 ft.). The clearance moved the Reno, Nevada native to 17th in the West region and she will now look to qualify for her first NCAA Championships by finishing as one of the top-12 athletes in the event at the West Prelims in Sacramento.

Junior Gleb Dudarev’s 74.39-meter (244-1 ft.) hammer throw mark at the Florida Relays ranks No. 4 in the NCAA and No. 23 in the world this season and earned him Big 12 Co-Men’s Athlete of the Week, announced April 3. The weekly honor marks the sixth of Dudarev’s career. Dudarev won his third-straight hammer throw title at the Big 12 Championship, making him the fourth athlete in conference history to win three titles in the event and the third Jayhawk to do so since the inception of the Big 12. Though Dudarev’s season-best is a world top-25, the junior still has yet to hit his stride this outdoor season, having launched the hammer 78.04 meters (256-1 ft.) last year at the Kansas Relays, which ranks the Vitebsk, Belarus native as the No. 6 performer all-time in NCAA history.

Rylee Anderson posted a personal-best clearance of 1.82 meters (5-11.5 ft.) in the high jump at the National Relay Championships to become the No. 5 performer in KU history. She enters the West Prelims ranked No. 6 in the region and No. 11 in the NCAA this season. Anderson needs just one centimeter (one-half inch) more on her personal-best to tie Ann O’Connor for the Kansas women’s freshman record at 1.83 meters (6-0 ft.).

Kansas Jayhawks

Sophomore George Evans has qualified for his second NCAA West Prelims in the discus and looks to make a return to the NCAA Championships and improve on his 13th-place finish and Second Team All-America honor. Evans enters the West Prelims as the No. 5-seeded discus thrower in the region and ranks No. 11 in the NCAA with a season-best mark of 59.84 meters (196-4 ft.).

After garnering USTFCCCA Midwest Region Indoor Track Athlete of the Year honors for breaking the 800-meter school record at the Big 12 Indoor Championship and winning the conference title, senior Marleena Eubanks looks to earn a trip to the NCAA Championships in the 800 meters. Eubanks is currently ranked No. 13 in the West region with a time of 2:05.12 at the National Relay Championships in her signature event. The time was the No. 3 performance in KU history, while Eubanks also holds the No. 2 time in program history at 2:04.44, just one-hundredth of a second off Whitney Adams’ school record of 2:04.43.

The Kansas women’s track & field team were one of four KU teams to record a team-best semester in the classroom, leading to a department-record 3.11 all-sports combined GPA in the Fall 2018 semester. The KU women’s track & field team recorded a program-best 3.42 GPA for the Fall semester. The Kansas men’s team was able to notch a 2.91 GPA.

According to Track & Field News, 19th-year head coach Stanley Redwine’s 2018 KU men’s recruiting class is the No. 3 signing class is the nation. Coming in behind Georgia and Texas A&M, the Jayhawks made the top-5 for the first time ever.

Highlighting the recruiting class is Zach Bradford, a pole vaulter out of Bloomington, Illinois, who represented the USA at the 2018 IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, where he earned a silver medal. Bradford posted the No. 8 all-time high school pole vault mark, clearing 18-2.5 ft. his senior season.

Also highlighting the signing class are Treyvon Ferguson, a triple jumper hailing from Hershey, Pennsylvania and Patrick Larrison, a thrower from Moore, Oklahoma.

Any Kansas athletes that finish in the top-12 of their respective event at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in Sacramento, California, will qualify for the 2019 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas, June 5-8.