Senior Lindsay Vollmer is coming off a career-best performance in the 60m hurdles last month at the Bob Timmons Challenge.
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas track & field will look to continue its strong start to the 2015 campaign after a month off from competition. The Jayhawk men and women will host the Bill Easton Classic on Friday, January 9 inside Anschutz Sports Pavilion. In-state and Big 12 rival Kansas State is slated to make the short trip to Lawrence, while Oral Roberts and Wichita State are also expected to compete. Action will kick off in the field at 1 p.m., while the track events are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Admission is free to the public.
Within its 2015 men’s and women’s rosters, Kansas returns three First Team All-Americans, including 2013 NCAA Heptathlon champion and three-time Big 12 champion Lindsay Vollmer. Also returning on the women’s side is junior Sydney Conley, who garnered First Team All-America honors twice in the long jump a year ago. The KU women return over 70 percent of the scorers that led the squad to third and fourth-place finishes at last year’s Big 12 indoor and outdoor meets.
On the men’s side, senior hurdler Michael Stigler is back to but the finishing touches on an already stellar career, which has seen him claim the last three Big 12 400-meter hurdle titles and attain First Team All-America status on three occasions. Junior pole vaulter Casey Bowen returns after winning his first Big 12 title in the event last outdoor season and leads perhaps the deepest pole vault group in the nation. The KU men’s roster is full of new faces as over half of the team is made up of newcomers, which includes 20 true freshmen
Success at the Bill Easton
In its first five years as KU track & field’s calendar year-opening meet, the Bill Easton Classic has proven to be one of the more successful meets in terms of individual victories. Since 2010, Jayhawks have won a combined 83 competitions at the Bill Easton Classic, including 11 at the meet a year ago. A year ago, Bowerman Award Watch List honorees Natalia Bartnovskaya and Lindsay Vollmer each tallied NCAA-leading performances while Michael Stigler turned in victories in three events to lead the way for the Jayhawks.
Jayhawks Flying at the Top of the NCAA
Kansas saw several of its athletes put up some of the top marks in the nation at the season-opening meet in December. Seven Jayhawks and two relays find themselves ranked in the NCAA top-10 in six events including Anastasiya Muchkayev (shot put), Grace Pickell (high jump), Lindsay Vollmer (high jump, 60m hurdles) and the distance medley relay team on the women’s side as well as Casey Bowen (pole vault), Nick Maestretti (pole vault), Nick Meyer (pole vault), Jake Albright (pole vault) and the 4×400-meter relay team for the men. An additional five Jayhawks hold marks that sit in the top-25 of the national rankings.
Stigler on Early Watch for ‘The Bowerman’
All-American hurdler Michael Stigler was one of 16 athletes named to the preseason Bowerman Watch List as was released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) this week. The Bowerman Award, considered the ‘Heisman of Track & Field,’ is given to the nation’s top male and female track & field athletes and will be awarded later this year.
The senior makes his second career-appearance among those considered for The Bowerman after also earning votes during last season’s award race. Though Stigler was not one of those 10 athletes to be listed on the official watch list, he was selected to the “Also Receiving Mention” list. The Canyon, Texas native is a three-time First Team All-American in the 400-meter hurdles and was the NCAA runner-up at the Outdoor National Championships each of the last two seasons. He is also the three-time defending Big 12 champion in the event. His school record time of 49.19 broken in June of 2013 at the NCAA meet ranked him among the top-10 Americans that year and has posted a sub-50 second mark six times since then. Stigler also claimed the Big 12’s 600 yard title during the indoor campaign a year ago.
Last time out
Kansas track & field opened its 2014-15 indoor season on Dec. 6 with the Bob Timmons Challenge inside Anschutz Pavilion. Seventeen event titles were won by Jayhawks on the day, including a pair by junior All-American Sydney Conley.
Conley’s day started in the 60-meter dash, where she held off sophomore teammate Zainab Sanni by .02 seconds and earned the victory in 7.54. Later in the day Conley laced up for her signature event, the long jump. She soared to a mark of 5.84 meters (19’2″), a distance the earned her the eventual win, her first inside her home facility of Anschutz Pavilion.
On the men’s side, junior Casey Bowen was the highlight after he took the pole vault title with a mark that is one of the best in the NCAA so far this season. He slid over the 5.31 meter (17’5″) bar on his second attempt, a feat no other competitor could match. Sophomore teammate Nick Meyer was the runner-up in the event, while junior Jake Albright secured a third-place finish, both vaulting over a top height of 5.21 meters (17’1″).
Senior All-American Lindsay Vollmer looked in midseason form has the combined event specialist sprinted to a win in the 60-meter hurdles. The 2013 NCAA heptathlon champion and two-time reigning Big 12 heptathlon title holder separated herself from the competition with relative ease, hurdling the five barriers and leaning across the finish in 8.43 to win the race by nearly half a second. The time was the fastest of Vollmer’s KU career and is a top-10 mark in the NCAA so far in the young season.
The Kansas track & field program will see a major youth resurgence this year, especially on the men’s side. Both teams feature a combined 33 athletes who will don the KU singlet for the first time, which includes over half (24 of the 55) currently listed on the men’s team roster. Eleven newcomers comprise the 42-person men’s roster.
Several of those true freshman are expected to be in action for Kansas on Friday. For the men, Barden Adams, Matt Anyiwo, Leon Cambridge, Tre Daniels, Nick Giusti, Sam Haraway, Jaron Hartley, Christian Hicks, Trevor Hillis, Anthonio Humphrey, Jack McDonald, Lucas Shaw, Kai Shean and Ezekial Welch are scheduled to suit up in the Crimson and Blue while the women’s team will see Daria Cook, Dorie Dalzell, Mary Kate Franklin, Teri Huslig, Alexis Romero, Alaina Schroeder, Laura Taylor, Taryn Tempel and Jasmine Thomas all competing in their first or second meet as Jayhawks.
Head coach Stanley Redwine has taken Kansas track & field to a level it hasn’t seen in quite some time during his first 14 years at the helm. Over Redwine’s tenure, he has seen 98 indoor and outdoor Big 12 Champions, 149 First Team All-Americans and 14 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 29-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 2015 will feature a large batch of home-grown talent as the majority of the athletes on each roster hail from the Sunflower State. Twenty-seven KU men and 17 Jayhawk women call Kansas home, with the next-most prolific state, Texas, boasting a combined 8 natives, all on the men’s side.
Kansas also has a handful of international athletes. On the men’s side, junior sprinter Jaime Wilson hails from Old Harbour, Jamaica, redshirt freshman Alexandre Lavigne (Quebec, Canada), sophomore Mitch Cooper (Queensland, Australia) and sophomore Daniel Koech (Eldoret, Kenya) and welcome in a fifth fellow international in freshmen Jaun del Azar (Virginia Water, England). For the women, juniors Anastasiya Muchkayev (Be’er Sheva, Israel) and Daina Levy (Ontario, Canada) have continued the KU tradition of bringing in some of the top international talent in the NCAA. Senior distance specialist Sarah Kelly is the latest international addition as she calls Cupar, Scotland home.
The Jayhawks will make the short journey to Manhattan, Kansas to take part in an interstate battle when they go up against Kansas State and Wichita State in a triangular-style meet on Saturday, Jan. 17. Action from inside history Ahearn Fieldhouse will begin in the field at 11 a.m., while the track events will began at 1 p.m. Follow both the men’s and women’s teams as they try to take down their in-state rivals by following on Twitter, Instagram and Vine at @KUTrack.