KU Track & Field set to host Jayhawk Classic
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas track & field teams will host their final indoor meet of the season when they welcome over 20 teams and nearly 600 athletes for the Jayhawk Classic Jan. 26-27. The action will begin Thursday with the first four events of the men’s heptathlon, while the remaining events, including two sessions of track events, will begin at 9 a.m., Friday inside Anschutz Sports Pavilion.
- The Jayhawks will host their third and final indoor home meet of the 2017 campaign. The Jayhawk Classic is in its eighth year with KU athletes claiming 96 event victories in the meet’s history, including 16 a year ago.
- Kansas will again see a full contingent in action at the Jayhawk Classic with 72 KU athletes (38 men, 34 women) expected to compete inside Anschutz Friday.
- Seeing her first competitive track event in over 19 months, senior Hannah Richardson rewrote the school record book in the 3,000 meters with her time of 9:20.22, a 30-second personal best. Her time narrowly upended Natalie Becker’s former record of 9:20.84, posted at the 2014 Big 12 Indoor Championship.
- Pole vaulter Jake Albright surpassed the 18-foot milestone for the second time in seven days when he got over a career-best 5.54 meters (18-2). The vault not only moved him to No. 1 on the latest national pole vault rankings, but also inserted his name to fourth among the rich history of Kansas pole vaulters.
- Junior Barden Adams is undefeated in all four of his outings in the triple jump this season. Last weekend he got out to a mark of 16.00 meters (52-6) to earn the win at the Rod McCravy Memorial and move himself to No. 6 in the national standings. The performance was the best by a Jayhawk on an indoor track in 27 years.
- Kansas currently boasts seven pole vaulters (four men, three women) who have moved into the top-20 of the NCAA’s pole vault rankings. The number includes senior Jake Albright who sits in the NCAA lead after a career-best outing at the Rod McCravy Memorial last weekend.
- The women’s distance medley relay team of Riley Cooney, Megan Linder, Hannah Dimmick and Malika Baker posted a season-best time of 11:26.93 in Lexington last weekend. The quartet’s time moved the Jayhawks to third in the NCAA this season and was the eighth-best time ever produced by the Kansas women.
- The KU men’s 4×400-meter relay posted a season-best time of 3:09.29 last weekend, the No. 9 time in the country this season. The quartet’s mile relay marked the third-fastest ever on an indoor track by a Kansas team.
- If the indoor season were to end today, 10 Jayhawks and four KU relay teams would qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships set for March 10-11 in College Station, Texas. Kansas has seen at least one athlete earn All-America honors at the indoor meet for 20-consecutive seasons.
KANSAS MEN UP TO NO. 20 IN LATEST NCAA RANKINGS
The Kansas men’s track & field team found itself ranked inside the top-25 of the first regular-season national rankings released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Monday. The Jayhawks checked in at No. 20, which marks the highest indoor ranking by a Kansas men’s squad since the current format began in 2008.
Kansas enters the top-25 for the first time since 2010 with the help of six individual performances over the last two weekends that have Jayhawks near the top of the national rankings in their respective events. The Big 12 features five of its nine men’s squads ranked in this week’s poll. Texas leads the way at No. 8, Texas Tech sits at No. 12, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are ranked 17th and 18th, respectively, while the Jayhawks round it out at No. 20.
ALBRIGHT CLAIMS BIG 12 ATHLETE OF THE WEEK HONORS
Following his NCAA-leading performance at the Rod McCravy Memorial last Saturday, Kansas senior pole vaulter Jake Albright was named the Big 12 Track & Field Male Athlete of the Week the conference office announced Tuesday. The honor was the first of Albright’s career and the first KU male to be recognized with an indoor weekly honor since 2011.
Kansas senior Jake Albright vaulted into the NCAA lead over the weekend with a career-best clearance in the pole vault at the Rod McCravy Memorial in Lexington, Kentucky. The senior surpassed the 18-foot milestone for the second time in seven days en route to claiming his third victory of the season. Albright needed seven tries to get over his first four bars of the competition before needing all three attempts to push past a new career best of 5.54 meters (18-2). He now sits at No. 1 in the DI pole vault rankings and 15th on the 2017 world list.
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 four vaulters who sit inside the NCAA’s top-12, including seniors Jake Albright, Nick Maestretti, Nick Meyer and sophomore Paulo Benavides, who moved toward the top of the national chart after stellar outings over the last three weeks. Albright finds himself at No. 1 in the nation following his 18-foot clearance in Lexington last weekend. 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 and 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. They are joined by freshman Andrea Willis, who has stormed onto the collegiate scene, already with a pair of event victories and the nation’s No. 14-ranked mark of the 2017 season.
RECORD BOOK WATCH
A host of Jayhawks enter the 2017 calendar year in good position to continue to move up Kansas’ all-time indoor record books. Thirty-two Jayhawks (12 men, 20 women) 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 and junior Sharon Lokedi are the team’s three active school-record holders as Livingston is 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.
Most recently, senior Jake Albright moved to No. 4 on KU’s indoor pole vault chart after his 5.54 meter (18-2) clearance last week at the McCravy Memorial. Sophomore Paulo Benavides joined his teammate in becoming one of the Jayhawks’ top-10 vaulters indoors with his mark of 5.45 meters (17-10½), sitting him 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 will see a major youth resurgence this year, especially on the women’s side. Both teams feature a combined 33 athletes who will don 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 Roy Bay, Isaiah Cole, Quentin Dancer, Gleb Dudarev, Chris Gleghorn, Mitch Grosserode, , Avery Hale, Denzel Harper, Bryce Hoppel, Cody Johnson, George Letner, Chase Pennewell and Marcus Quere are scheduled to suit up in the Crimson and Blue. The women’s team will see Chloe Akin-Otiko, Jedah Caldwell, Rachel Clowers, Molly Dean, Zantori Dickerson, Lauren Harrell, Odalis Hernandez, Callie Hicks, Lisa Lauschke and Andrea Willis are all competing for the Jayhawks inside Anschutz Pavilion.
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.
ROCK CHALK PARK 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 hit the road for Lincoln, Nebraska to take part in the 42nd Annual Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational, Feb. 3-4. Two full days from the Bob Devaney Sports Center will begin at 11:30 a.m., Friday with the events of the men’s heptathlon and women’s pentathlon. Events will run both days and conclude Saturday with the 4×400-meter relays at 4:56 p.m. Get live updates and results from the Jayhawks’ performances by following on Twitter and Instagram at @KUTrack.
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