Bill Easton Classic
Anschutz Pavilion // Lawrence, Kan.
| Junior Michael Stigler claimed two individual titles Friday, winning the 60-meter hurdles before also claiming the 400-meter victory.
| Photo Gallery
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After seeing their names mentioned among the nation’s top track & field athletes earlier this week, Kansas track & field’s Natalia Bartnovskaya, Lindsay Vollmer and Michael Stigler proved themselves worthy of their Bowerman Watch List status as they competed Friday at the Bill Easton Classic inside Anschutz Sports Pavilion. Bartnovskaya and Vollmer tallied NCAA-leading performances while Stigler turned in victories in three events as the men’s and women’s teams took part in their first meet of the calendar year.
“On the women’s side I thought Lindsay, Natalia and Diamond (Dixon) all had really nice meets,” said head coach Stanley Redwine. “I’m happy where our leaders are but that means that other people need to step up and get to their level. For the guys, I was really happy with Michael’s performances but his 400 meter is what really impressed me. The men’s pole vaulters also did something really special with three guys getting over 17 feet. We’re right on track with the men and we’ll continue to get better.”
The Kansas women’s two returning national champions moved their names back to the top of the national rankings once again as Vollmer and Bartnovskaya picked up victories on the shoulders of NCAA-leading performances in their respective events.
First up was Bartnovskaya in the pole vault. The senior out of Krasnoyarsk, Russia got through the first three bars in flawless fashion, clearing 3.90 meters (12’9½”), 4.05 meters (13’3½”), and 4.15 meters (13’7¼”), all on her first attempt. The last clearance put her in a tie for the NCAA lead as of Friday night and gave the senior her first victory of the season.
Meanwhile, Vollmer was producing some fireworks of her own in the high jump pit. The combined-event specialist and defending NCAA heptathlon champion got off to a strong start like her teammate, Bartnovskaya. The Hamilton, Mo., product popped off three quick clearances without producing a foul before coming to a height which she had never been able to conquer, 1.76 meters (5’9¼”). It took her all three attempts but Vollmer managed to slink over on her last try, extending her day and tallying a new personal best.
She didn’t stop there. Vollmer took all three of her attempts at the next bar, 1.81 meters (5’11¼”), but again saved her best for last, sliding over for her fifth clearance of the day and moving into the Kansas history books. Her mark was the highest hit be a KU female since 1993 and moved her to No. 3 on the school’s all-time indoor performance list. Her leap was also the highest by a collegian so far this young season.
Vollmer returned to action an hour later as she hit the starting blocks for the 60-meter hurdles. She get over the five hurdles and leaned through the finish in 8.47, scrapping off .04 seconds off her previous best and earning a second-place finish in the process. The time broke Ashley Brown’s seven-year-old facility record in the event, however Kansas State’s Erica Twiss came out on top in the event and now holds the facility record after winning the race in 8.36.
Michael Stigler was once again the top performer on the track for the KU men, picking up a pair of victories and aiding in a third Friday evening. The junior started his day in the 60-meter hurdles, where he sprinted through the finish in 8.14, outleaning Kansas State’s Devin Dick to take the win. He then went on to post a win in the 400 meters, pulling away from the rest of the field in the final 100 meters to pick up his third-career victory in the event. Stigler posted a time of 48.75, less than half a second off of his career best.
Stigler then joined forces with teammates DeMario Johnson, Dominique Manley and Kenneth McCuin in the 4×400-meter relay. The group was up against a formidable Kansas State squad but managed to hold off the Wildcats in the final leg to take the victory. The four Jayhawks combined to run a time of 3:15.08, the group’s fastest of the season.
Diamond Dixon continued her climb back into the national spotlight as she turned in another head-turning performance, this time in the 600 yards. Dixon, who was victorious in the 60 meters a month ago at the season-opening Bob Timmons Challenge, added another win to her résumé Friday as she easily claimed the 600-yard crown in career-best fashion. The senior out of Houston made her 2.5 trips around the Anschutz Pavilion track in 1:21.15, marking the fastest time of her career and the No. 3 performance in school history. Her time is also the fastest in the NCAA so far this season.
Dixon’s night wasn’t over. After recording a time of 24.31 in the 200 meters and turning in a second-place finish behind former Jayhawk Paris Daniels in the 200 meters, she hit the track one last time with her teammates Rhavean King, Whitney Adams, and Adriana Newell in the 4×400-meter relay. The quartet passed the baton around in 3:47.38, to earn the group’s fastest time this season en route to a second-place finish.
The Kansas men’s vaulters again saw another dominant performance on their home runway. Five of the seven Jayhawks competing in the event finished inside the top eight, including three among the top-four finishers. It was a career day for sophomore Jake Albright, who picked up his first-career victory after outduelling a pair of Big 12 Champions, teammate Alex Bishop and Kansas State’s Kyle Wait as well as freshman teammate Nick Meyer. All four managed to clear 5.21 meters (17’1″), however it was Albright who committed fewer fouls en route to that height, earning him the event title over a stacked field. The three Jayhawks’ clearances moved them into the top-10 of the most recent NCAA pole vault rankings.
In her first collegiate race on a track, freshman Nashia Baker turned in a standout performance as she claimed a win in the 3,000 meters. The Lansing, Kan., native completed her 15 laps in 10:22.83 and outpaced the rest of the field by nearly three seconds. Her sister, Malika Baker, was the next Crimson and Blue-clad runner to cross the finish after she posted a time of 10:29.06, which was good enough to earn her a third-place finish.
Other Kansas winners Friday included sophomore Tianna Valentine, who took the women’s 60-meter title in 7.47 and senior Amanda Caines, who picked up her first career win as a Jayhawk in the triple jump after she tallied a personal best mark of 11.66 meters (38’3¾”)
The Jayhawks will journey north next week to visit former conference foe Nebraska at the Holiday Inn Invitational in Lincoln, Neb. The meet is to be held Jan. 17-18 inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center with the events set to begin on Friday at 4 p.m., and conclude Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
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