Street vaulters shine on day two of Kansas Relays
| Kristen Hixson was all smiles after winning the Street Pole Vault Thursday.
LAWRENCE, Kan. – More than 1,500 fans were treated to star-studded and high-flying entertainment as an elite pole vault competition took to the streets of Lawrence on day two of the 90th Kansas Relays Thursday. Hometown favorite Nick Meyer vaulted to his first Street Vault crown and was joined by Kristen Hixson, who earned the victory on the women’s runway.
A picturesque Thursday evening was the setting of another one of the Kansas Relays’ unique events as 12 male and female professional pole vaulters hit the runway constructed in the middle of a parking lot in West Lawrence. The event had some hometown flavor to it as current Jayhawk vaulter Nick Meyer, competing unattached, won the event on the men’s side.
Three competitors quickly separated themselves from the rest as Meyer, former Oral Roberts All-American Jack Whitt and Brazilian Olympian Augusto Durta tallied clearances over 5.29 meters (17-4¼). Meyer produced perhaps the largest cheer from the crowd, estimated at over 1,500, when he was the first and only over 5.39 meters (17-8¼) on his second attempt. Meyer went on to get over one more bar on the day to further cement his victory, clearing 5.49 meters (18-0).
On the women’s side, it was three-time Division II pole vault champion Kristen Hixson that outlasted the stellar field as she needed only six attempts to clear four bars. On her first try at 4.58 meters (15-0¼) the Grand Valley State product soared over with ease to put the final touches on her win. Her performance has Hixson ranked No. 6 in the latest world rankings for 2017 and fourth among American vaulters.
The decathlon and heptathlon concluded during the second day’s events. It was an underclassmen and a veteran who came away from Rock Chalk Park with hardware. In the heptathlon, Texas Tech’s Kaylee Hinton became the first female in over 20 years to claim back-to-back Kansas Relays heptathlon titles. Hinton, who led wire-to-wire, had the overnight lead and did not relinquish it over the heptathlon’s final three events. She opened the day with a dominant win in the long jump, hitting a mark of 5.58 meters (18-3¾), a leap more than seven inches ahead of the rest of the field.
After a third-place finish in the javelin, Hinton took a 229-point lead into the final event, the 800 meters, but needed little cushion after another strong outing to conclude her two-day stay. Hinton clocked in at 2:22.18 to outpace the field by nearly three seconds. That brought her final total to 5,372 points, a personal best and 24 points better than her winning score from a year ago.
Hinton’s win made her the first to win back-to-back Kansas Relays heptathlon titles since 1996, when Barton County’s Lisa Wright repeated in the event. Her winning score would have also been good enough to win seven of the last nine KU Relays heptathlons.
On the men’s side, it was former Kansas State standout Reinis Kregers who ended his day on the top step of the podium. Kregers never led during the first day of competition, but took over the top spot on the leaderboard following day two’s second event and never looked back. He scored more than 600 points in each of the final five events en route to a winning score of 7,210. His score was 439 points clear of 2014 runner-up Derrick Schluter and 577 points ahead of the top-collegiate competitor, Kansas’ Dylan Poirier.
The day closed on a significant note as Bacone’s Jackson Thomas posted one of the fastest 10,000-meter times in meet history. The senior completed his 6.2-mile race in 29:56.71 to outpace the rest of the field by nearly 17 seconds. His time was also the fastest in a KU Relays 10,000-meter race since Adam’s State’s Sam Montoya clocked in at 29:52.24 in 1984.
Two more full days await at the 90th Kansas Relays. High school events get underway at 8 a.m., Friday with the first collegiate events on the track at 10:15 a.m. Log on to KansasRelays.com for updates and follow on Twitter at @KU_Relays.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.