Distance Events Shine on Day Two of the Kansas Relays
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The distance carnival took center stage Friday night on day two of the Kansas Relays. The Rock Chalk Park track facility produced some of the fastest times the historic meet has seen in years and saw a Lawrence native pick up her first collegiate victory in front of her hometown fans.
The gusty winds of the first day of the Kansas Relays’ decathlon were absent, but chilly weather set in at Rock Chalk Park on the second and last day of the event. While the temperature was frigid, the competition was heating up. Freshman Guy Fenske ended the first day ahead of the field with 3,666 points followed by Oklahoma Christian’s Austin Wallace with 3,373 points and Rodgerick Woods of Lindenwood with 3,239 points.
The day started with the 110 hurdles where Woods claimed victory with a time of 15.35 followed by sophomore Will Wallace of Benedictine with a time of 15.70, besting his previous PR of 15.85. Fenske suffered a setback in the first event, finishing last place with a time of 18.04, a new personal record. Despite his finish, Fenske’s lead stayed put at 4186 points as Austin Wallace trailed with 4073.
The men then moved onto the discus throw where Illinois State junior Kevin Fisch captured the win with a 36.37 meter (119-4) throw. Fenske rebounded from his first event with a 33.95 meter (111-4) toss to tie Bart Mestelle for second place. Mestelle’s throw tallied enough points to overcome Woods and step into third place.
Next up was pole vault where Fisch cleared the highest bar of the competitors at 4.25 meters (13-11¼). He was followed by Will Wallace with a clearance of 4.15 meters (13-71/4). Joshua Stevens picked up third place vaulting 4.05 meters (13-3 ½). Fenske, the decathlon’s leader, grabbed fourth place after clearing 3.85 meters (12-7 ½).
In the javelin throw, Fenske snagged another first-place finish with a throw of 51.03 meters (167-5) on his first throw to set the bar. Fisch was next, launching the javelin 48.89 meters (160-4) on his second attempt and was followed by Joshua Stevens with a 46.91 meter (153-11) mark.
Going into the decathlon’s 1,500-meter finale, Fenske led the pack with 5,909 points, while Fisch was 256 points back. To end his impressive run, Fenske blew the competition away in the distance race to secure the win in his first-career decathlon. Fenske ran the race in 4:37.81 and Woods crossed the finish line second with a time of 4:43.25 after making a breakaway in the final lap.
After two days of competition, 30 mph winds and chilly temperatures, Fenske was crowned with a total of 6,603 points. Fisch placed second with 6,271 points followed by Austin Wallace with 6,083 points.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” said Fenske following the event. “Just doing your first one decathlon and doing well. I had some good PRs today, but I feel like I’m pretty strong in the 1500 and shot put felt good for me.”
After dealing with wind gusts of 30 miles per hour in the first day of action at the Kansas Relays, athletes were treated with better conditions on day two as the wind gusts settled down. Trumans’ Rebecca Nelson looked to carry over a strong day one outing, which resulted in her overnight lead, into the final three events.
“Day one is very important and boosts your confidence and prepares you better for day two,” said Nelson. “My day one events are usually a lot stronger, except for javelin on day two, which is probably my best event. Overall having a strong day one definitely gives you the confidence you need heading into day two.”
Athletes took advantage of the milder weather and started the second and final day of heptathlon competition with the long jump. Nelson impressed onlookers, setting a new personal best with a mark of 5.38 meters (17-8) adding 665 points to her compiled score of 3,707 and keeping her atop the overall standings. Finishing second in the event was Kansas’ Mercedes Smith, who earned 578 points to her score and moving her up to second place overall with a jump of 5.07 meters (16-7.75).
The second event of the day was the javelin where Nelson showed off her prowess in the event by out throwing her opponents by over ten meters after hitting 40.86 meters (134-1) on her first attempt. Nelson’s season-best toss earned her 684 points and kept her in the lead with 4,391 points overall with one event to go. Oklahoma Christians’ Rozlyn Hamilton finished second in the event with a throw of 30.65 meters (100-6) and moved her to third overall heading into the final event.
The heptathlon concluded with the 800 meter run. Smith separated herself towards the finish line of a close race pulling out the victory with a time of 2:28.93 and adding 706 points to her final score of 4,461, good enough for second place overall in her first collegiate heptathlon. Nelson finished as the overall winner, leading from the first event on. She ended her two-day outing with a new personal best of 4,982 points. Finishing in third was Hamilton with 4,417 points.
With the win Nelson becomes the first athlete to claim a victory at this year’s Kansas Relays and the newly built Rock Chalk Park.
“I guess I never thought about that but it’s cool,” Nelson remarked following the event. “I just came out and did what I was coached to do and it worked out in my favor.
She was pleased with the win but knew there are still some kinks that need work. “Overall I think I need to make small improvements in every event, that’s kind of how the heptathlon goes.”
This was the first event to conclude at Rock Chalk Park which is a state-of-the-art track facility. Athletes took notice of the facilities beauty and track.
“The facility is really nice and you can tell it’s a new track,” Nelson concluded. “It’s nice and soft and it’s really cool to be on just a track facility and not have football or anything around. You can throw in the infield and it’s a cool place.”
Men’s Hammer Throw
Sophomore Will Lohman of Nebraska was named champion in the men’s hammer throw, Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. He threw his winning mark of 61.35 meters (201’3″) meters on his second attempt of the competition. He was followed closely by Southern Illinois junior Curtis Wideman who hit his best mark of 61.17 meters (200’8″) on his fifth attempt. In third place was Isaac Twombly (unattached) with a mark of 56.71 meters (186’0″).
“They were a little low today, but it was good that I was still able to stay competitive,” Lohman said of his throws following the competition. “It’s great being able to come away with a win. I’d like to have better marks moving forward though.”
Women’s Hammer Throw
The host Kansas picked up its first victory of the meet as sophomore Daina Levy claimed victory in the hammer throw. Levy won the event with a mark of 60.14 meters (197-4). Levy’s top two marks on the day would have earned her the win with her second best attempt reaching 58.70 meters (192-7). Levy has now topped the 60-meter mark twice in 2014, one of only two women in the Big 12 to do so this year.
“It feels great to win my first Kansas Relays event,” Levy said. “I can still feel some pain here and there in my knee, but my focus is only on what I can achieve each day and how I can help my team earn a victory.”
Finishing second was Nebraska’s Carlie Pinkelman by way of her second attempt mark of 55.87 meters (183-3). Just one foot back was Lindenwood junior Lindsay Blackwell, who hit a mark of 55.56 meters (182-3)
Women’s 5,000 Meters
Grace Morgan, a Kansas freshman and Lawrence native, won the women’s 5,000 meter race in her first race as a collegian in front of her hometown fans. Morgan stuck with the front of the pack throughout the majority of the race, but was never able to overtake the leaders, that is until the final moments of the event. With 200 meters to go, Morgan used a strong kick to overtake the leader and sprinted down the home straightaway to seal the victory by nearly three seconds. Morgan clocked in at a personal best 17:11.80.
“It means a lot to be the first Jayhawk to have a victory on this track,” said Morgan following the race. “I am really excited that I’m here and that I get to represent the Jayhawks. It has been a great experience so far and I’m excited to see where it goes.”
Men’s 5,000 Meters
Juan Pacheco ran unattached and captured first place in the Men’s 5,000 Meter race. Pacheco stayed at the lead pack with six other competitors for the first 3,000 meters. In the final 2,000 meters Pacheco broke into a two-man sprint between with Kansas City Smoke’s Justin Garrard. As the two competitors battled back and forth, Pacheco sprinted ahead and narrowly captured first place by 1.3 seconds, beating Robert Brockmueller time set in the first heat.
“I just stuck to my game plan,” said Pacheco following his win. “I did what my coach told me and stuck to my goal of 68 to 70 seconds per lap. I simply believed in myself and it paid off.”
Women’s 5,000 Meters
Rebekah Lawson, a junior from South East Missouri, took home the victory in the 10,000-meter race Thursday night. Lawson led the tight lead pack for the first 5,000 meters, but right as they front group crossed the halfway mark, she took off and never looked back. Lawson crossed the finish line at 36:10.68, a full ten seconds ahead of the second-place runner. Her time, which ranks her atop the Ohio Valley Conference standings this year, would have won each of the last four Kansas Relays 10,000 meters.
“I really want to get a better time; around 35:30. After this race I know I am capable of doing that. This was a really fun race for me overall.”
Men’s 5,000 Meters
Frankline Tonui, a sophomore from Central Iowa Community College, captured first place in the men’s 10,000-meter race to close out the second day of competition. Tonui stayed with the pack for the first mile before taking off to a blistering pace which saw him gain a lead upwards of 45 seconds for the remainder of the race. Tonui’s average split a time was just under 71 seconds per lap for the reminder of the race, bringing his final 10,000-meter time to 30:00.80. He beat the second-place finisher by 45 seconds and now has the fastest time in the NJCAA ranks. Tanui’s race was also the fastest at the Kansas Relays since 1995 and marked the first time a competitor from Iowa Central CC has won the event.
“Today I was trying to break my own record, along with the school record,” said Tanui. “I don’t know if I was able to do it or not, but I was happy with what I did. My coach told me to try and go for 69 seconds per lap. I was only able to get around 71, but that is still pretty good for me.”
Day three action from the 87th Kansas Relays will begin at 8 a.m. Friday with the high school girls discus at McCook Field outside Memorial Stadium. The Rock Chalk Park track will see its first races at 9 a.m. with the running of the high school boys and girls 4xMile relays. Log on to KansasRelays.com for up-to-the minute information and updates throughout the day and follow live on Twitter at @KUTrack.
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