Jayhawks to Welcome Wildcats, Shockers for Triangular Friday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas track & field will welcome in-state rivals Kansas State and Wichita State to Lawrence for the KSU-KU-WSU Triangular Friday inside Anschutz Pavilion. Each squad will be scored based on its top-two finishers in each event with the winner being announced following the day’s events. The meet will kick off with field events at 3 p.m., while the track events will start at 5 p.m.
- The Jayhawks will meet Kansas State and Wichita State for the second-straight year in the triangular meet format. At the meet held at KSU’s Ahearn Fieldhouse in 2015, the KU teams combined to score 202 points, finishing third behind Kansas State’s 261 points and Wichita State’s 217 points. Jayhawks claimed wins in four events and saw runner-up finishes in 12 of the day’s competitions.
- Junior sprinter Zainab Sanni has yet to lose a competition this season. After victories in the 60 meters, 200 meters and 4×400-meter relay at the season-opening Bob Timmons Challenge in December, Sanni claimed titles in the 60 meters and 4×400-meter relay at the Bill Easton Classic on Jan. 8.
- Senior thrower Anastasiya Muchkayev won the shot put competition at the Bill Easton Classic with a mark of 14.49 meters (47’6½”). Muchkayev has now been the top collegiate finisher in all eight of her shot put outings inside Anschutz Pavilion in her four seasons at KU.
- Both the Jayhawks’ men’s and women’s 4×400-meter and distance medley relay teams are ranked among the NCAA top-10 following the first two meets of the season. The women’s 4×400-meter relay team, which posted a time of 3:41.75 on Dec. 6, is the highest-ranked of the KU relay squads, checking in at No. 4 on the latest NCAA list.
- Freshman Dylan Hodgson took first in the 3,000 meters at the Bill Easton Classic last week, his first career race in a collegiate track meet. Hodgson was also a winner in his first collegiate cross country outing last fall, taking the 6K victory at the Bob Timmons Classic on Sept. 1.
- After arriving on campus for the first time just six days prior, freshman LaTyria Jefferson won the women’s long jump at the Bill Easton Classic Friday. The Desoto, Texas product topped the bar at 1.70 meters (5’7″) for the win, a mark that ranks her third among Big 12 high jumpers.
- Twin sisters Malika and Nashia Baker both claimed individual wins at the Bill Easton Classic. Malika won the 1,000 meters in a personal best 2:57.52, while Nashia took the mile title in 5:03.60. It was the first time in the juniors’ careers that both sisters were individual event winners at a single meet.
This weekend’s meet marks the second-straight year Kansas, Kansas State and Wichita State will meet in their current triangular series. Last year’s event marked the first triangular the Jayhawks competed in since Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri ended their annual Tri-Meet in 2006. The three schools competed in 17-straight triangulars from 1990-2006, with the Kansas men winning four of those encounters and the Jayhawk women winning one.
The Jayhawks, Wildcats and Shockers will battle for state supremacy and the triangular trophy with the program’s men’s and women’s squads being scored collectively to determine a winner. The scoring scale will award points to only the top-two finishers per school in each event. The scale will award seven points to the winner, five points to the runner-up and 4-3-2-1 points until all schools in the event have been represented.
Before last year, Kansas had previously met the Wildcats in Tri-Meet action in 2006, when Missouri filled the third spot. The highlight of the day was Sheldon Battle’s wins in both the shot put and weight throw with NCAA Championship qualifying marks. Several meet records fell at the hands of the Jayhawks as well. Tiffany Cherry won the 60-meter dash in a time of 7.55, beating the meet record by .08. Aaron Thompson broke two meet records of his own, one in the 60-meter dash (6.75) and the other in the 60-meter hurdles (7.94).
Within its 2016 men’s and women’s rosters, Kansas returns three First Team All-Americans, including senior long jumper Sydney Conley, who garnered First Team All-America honors three times in the last two years. Senior Daina Levy is back after a breakthrough season in 2015, one which saw her claim runner-up conference finishes in the weight and hammer throws. The KU duo is included on a women’s team that returns over 70 percent of the scorers that led the squad to sixth and fourth-place finishes at last year’s Big 12 indoor and outdoor meets, respectively.
On the men’s side, pole vaulter Casey Bowen returns for his final year in the Crimson and Blue looking for his third conference championship in the event and leads perhaps the deepest pole vault group in the nation. Both the KU men’s and women’s rosters are full of new faces as nearly a third of the teams are made up of newcomers.
Jayhawks Add Three at Semester
The Jayhawks saw three additions to the squad over the winter break as the team added freshmen Ivan Henry, Al Hazim Hussain and LaTyria Jefferson to the 2016 roster. Henry is an accomplished sprinter from Jamaica who is coming off a solid 2015, one which saw him take fourth in the 400 meters at that Pan Am Junior Games. Hussain comes to Lawrence as one of the top junior pole vaulters in the world. He holds the Saudi Arabian national record and also at one time held the U14 and U15 world records in the event. Jefferson joins the Jayhawks as one of the top high jumpers out of Texas. She was the 2014 state runner-up in the event and also tallied a victory at the Texas Relays that same year.
Sanni Named NCAA Athlete of the Week
After having a hand in three NCAA-leading marks at the season-opening Bob Timmons Challenge on Dec. 4, junior Zainab Sanni was named the National Female Athlete of the Week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) in its first weekly announcement of the season. The weekly honor is the first of Sanni’s career and the first claimed by a Jayhawk female since Paris Daniels was given the award in May of 2013.
Sanni, who hails from Aurora, Colorado, had a stellar season debut last week at the Bob Timmons Challenge. She kicked the day off with a win and a personal-record time in the 60 meters after she clocked in with a time of 7.41. The time moved the junior to No. 4 on the school’s all-time performance list. She picked up another individual win two hours later, this time in the 200 meters. Sanni out leaned former teammate and Olympic gold medalist Diamond Dixon with her time of 24.18.
She closed out her meet running the leadoff leg for the Jayhawks’ 4×400-meter relay squad. Kansas passed the baton around in 3:44.69 to take the win by over five seconds. The time was the fastest by a KU 4×4 squad in the seven-year history of the season-opening meet and put the quartet atop the NCAA list after the first week of the indoor season.
The Kansas track & field program will see a major youth resurgence this year, especially on the women’s side. Both teams feature a combined 40 athletes who will don the KU singlet for the first time, which includes nearly a third (20 of the 55) currently listed on the women’s team roster. Twenty newcomers also comprise the 58-person men’s roster.
Several of those true freshmen are expected to be in action for Kansas on Friday. For the men, Paulo Benavides, Erik Harken, Cain Hassim, Dylan Hodgson, Braden Kleinschmidt, Joel Long, Lane Macari, Connor McMullen, Bryce Richards, Alex Wilson and Tanner Wilson are scheduled to suit up in the Crimson and Blue, while the women’s team will see freshmen Riley Cooney, Gabbi Dabney, Deanna Dougherty, Emily Downey, Kayla Funkenbusch, Morgan Griffiths, LaTyria Jefferson, Hayley Krumwiede, Kelly McKee, Nicole Montgomery, Wumi Omare, Caraline Slattery and Hannah Swift 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 15 years at the helm. Over Redwine’s tenure, he has seen 103 indoor and outdoor Big 12 Champions, 153 First Team All-Americans and 15 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 30-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 2016 will feature a large batch of home-grown talent as the majority of the athletes on each roster hail from the Sunflower State. Twenty-eight KU men and 19 Jayhawk women call Kansas home, with the next-most prolific state, Texas, boasting a combined nine natives.
Kansas also has a handful of international athletes. On the men’s side, senior sprinter Jaime Wilson hails from Old Harbour, Jamaica, freshman Cain Hassim (Ontario, Canada), junior Mitch Cooper (Queensland, Australia), junior Daniel Koech (Eldoret, Kenya) and sophomore Nicolai Ceban (Camenca, Moldova) welcome in international freshmen Ivan Henry (Jamaica) and Al Hazim Hussain (Saudi Arabia). For the women, senior 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. Sophomore distance specialist Sharon Lokedi is the latest international addition as she calls Eldoret, Kenya home.