Jayhawks Begin 2015 Strong at Bill Easton Classic

Bill Easton Classic
Anschutz Pavilion // Lawrence, Kan.

Sophomore Nick Meyer tallied his first collegiate victory in the pole vault Friday at the Bill Easton Classic
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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Seven NCAA top-10 performances including a pair of victories from junior Sydney Conley highlighted Kansas track & field’s first meet of 2015, the Bill Easton Classic, Friday inside Anschutz Sports Pavilion. The Jayhawk men and women picked up victories in eight events as they returned from a month long break from competition.
For the second-straight meet Conley picked up wins in two events, claiming titles in the long jump and 60-meter dash. The Fayetteville, Arkansas native kicked her day off in the long jump pit where she packed up her win at the season-opener last month with another Friday. Conley’s first jump of the day ended up being her best as she launched herself to a mark of 5.92 meters (19’5¼”). The mark moved Conley inside the top-10 of the NCAA standings in the young 2014-15 season.
Hours later the junior settled into the starting blocks for the final of the 60-meter dash. Conley posted the fastest time in the preliminary heats earlier in the day (7.52), holding off teammate Zainab Sanni by .01 seconds, and made sure the order remained the same in the final. In what turned into an intrasquad battle, Conley was forced to hold off a strong run from the sophomore, Sanni. Conley out-leaned the underclassman by .05 seconds to earn the victory and posted a new career-best time of 7.47. Conley’s clocking moved her into the top-10 of the national rankings in her second time on the day and made her the No. 5 performer in school history in the event.
In addition to her personal best in the 60 meters, Sanni returned later to tally another career-best time in the 200 meters, a time that also moved her up inside the top-five of the NCAA ranks. The sophomore completed the 200-meter loop in a scorching 24.60, finishing second behind Kansas State’s A’Keyla Mitchell, who turned in an NCAA-leading time of 23.97 in the event. Sanni’s mark has her fourth in NCAA, the highest she has been ranked during her young Jayhawk career.
Junior Anastasiya Muchkayev stepped into the shot put ring for the first time this season and again shined, turning in her best performance in nearly two years. Muchkayev posted a mark of 16.36 meters (53’8¼”) on her fifth throw of the day to eventually give her the win by nearly a foot. Her mark is the fifth-farthest mark in the nation this season and now gives her four of the six best shot put marks in school history.
The Jayhawk runners got KU’s day on the track started on the right foot with wins in both the women’s and men’s 3,000-meter races. Sophomore Nashia Baker led from start to finish in the women’s race. After completing a breakout cross country season in the fall, the Lansing, Kansas native tallied her first collegiate victory on the oval after she completed the 1.8-mile race in a personal-best time of 10:05.59. Baker outpaced sophomore teammate Jennifer Angles who claimed the runner-up finish in 10:12.90.
Minutes later, Josh Munsch followed Baker’s lead by earning a decisive 3,000-meter win of his own. Competing in his first collegiate track race in over 19 months, the senior appeared to have not lost his edge by pulling away from the field just over midway through the race. Munsch turned it to another gear with 600 meters remaining to end any doubts of his impending win. He crossed the finish in 8:18.48 to claim the victory. His time was also one of the 10-fastest among the collegiate ranks this season.  
As has become tradition in early-season meets, the Kansas men’s pole vault contingent turned in another dominant performance. Three Jayhawks finished among the top-four overall finishers, which included winner, sophomore Nick Meyer. Meyer, as well as juniors Casey Bowen and Nick Maestretti each cleared a top height of 5.20 meters (17’0¼”), however it was Meyer who took the tie-breaker due to fewer misses. The win marked the fifth-straight home meet a Jayhawk male has been the top collegiate finisher in the pole vault.
The men’s relays ended the night on a high note, picking up wins in both the distance medley relay and the 4×400-meter relay. Munsch, Matt Anyiwo, Adel Yoonis and James Wilson were rarely challenged over the course of the 4,000-meter distance medley race. The four passed the baton around in 10:12.40, a full 18 seconds ahead of the second-place finishing team.
To end the day’s events, Jaime Wilson, Tre Daniels, Michael Stigler and Kenneth McCuin came together to tally Kansas’ fourth and final event victory of the day. The quartet pulled away early and never looked back as the anchor, McCuin, crossed the finish in 3:17.33, marking the second victory for the KU 4×400-meter relay team of the season.
There were a host of other notable performances from athletes donning the Crimson and Blue Friday. All-American hurdler Michael Stigler competed in his second-career 800 meters and shaved a full four seconds off his previous best in the event. Stigler clocked in with a time of 1:54.39 and was just .01 seconds from earning his second-career victory in the event. His time is one of the 10-fastest run in the NCAA so far this season. Junior Rhavean King also turned in an impressive middle distance performance with her runner-up performance in the 600 yards. The Memphis, Tennessee product posted a personal-best time of 1:23.76, which is the second-fastest time in the nation in 2015.
The Jayhawks will make the short journey to Manhattan, Kansas to take part in an intrastate battle when they go up against Kansas State and Wichita State in a triangular-style meet on Saturday, Jan. 17. Action is set to begin 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.
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