Jayhawks Journey to Lincoln for Holiday Inn Invitational
LAWRENCE, Kan. – University of Kansas Track & Field will try to continue its strong start to the 2014 campaign when the Jayhawks travel north to the home of former Big 12 conference foe Nebraska this weekend at the Holiday Inn Invitational in Lincoln, Neb. The meet, scheduled for Jan. 17-18, will see over 600 athletes from 14 collegiate teams compete inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The 10th-ranked Kansas women will see 32 athletes compete in Lincoln, while the Jayhawk men will see 30 of their athletes in action.
- The Jayhawks will travel to compete in Lincoln for the first time since Nebraska hosted the Big 12 Indoor Championships in February of 2011.
- This weekend’s meet will reunite former Big 12 conference foes Kansas and Nebraska. The two schools competed against one another for over 100 years as members of the Missouri Valley, Big Six, Big Seven, Big Eight and Big 12 Conferences before the Cornhuskers’ departure in 2011.
- Combined event specialist Lindsay Vollmer will look to keep her blazing start to the 2014 campaign going as she is slated to compete in the shot put and long jump competitions. A week ago, the junior tallied career bests in the high jump and 60-meter hurdles.
- The KU men’s pole vaulters currently see three Jayhawks ranked among the top-15 in the nation after senior Alex Bishop, sophomore Jake Albright and freshman Nick Meyer all cleared 5.21 meters (17’1″) at the Bill Easton Classic last week. Kansas has the most vaulters of any school in the nation currently ranked inside the top-20 (4).
- Caleb Cowling will return to his native Lincoln this weekend to compete in the long jump and triple jump. The freshman was a two-time state champion at Lincoln Pius X.
- Three Kansas women feature three women who currently sit among the top-five of the NCAA rankings in their respective events. Junior Lindsay Vollmer has the No. 1 high jump mark in the nation of 1.81 meters (5’11¼”), senior Natalia Bartnovskaya‘s 4.15m (13’7¼”) vault is second in the nation and senior Diamond Dixon is fifth in the 200 meters after clocking in at 24.31 last week.
- Now in his 14th year as Kansas’ head coach, Stanley Redwine is seeing an average of just over 10 athletes per season earn First Team All-America distinctions.
- The KU women are looking to replace 70 percent of the scorers which led the 2013 team to the NCAA Outdoor Championship.
- The Kansas men return over 80 percent of the points from a year ago that helped lead the squad to sixth- and fifth-place performances at the indoor and outdoor Big 12 Championships, respectively. The outdoor finish was the best result by a KU men’s team since 2005.
Last Time Out
Kansas track & field’s Natalia Bartnovskaya, Lindsay Vollmer and Michael Stigler proved themselves worthy of their Bowerman Watch List status as they competed last week 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.
Bartnovskaya got over 4.15 meters (13’7¼”) on her first attempt to move her to No. 2 in the NCAA and gave the senior her first victory of the season. Vollmer took all three of her attempts at 1.81 meters (5’11¼”) in the high jump, but 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 by 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.
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.
KU Women Slotted at No. 10 in Preseason Rankings
With the return of three NCAA champions as well as a four All-Americans from a year ago, the Kansas women’s track & field team earned a spot on the annual U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason indoor national rankings list. The Jayhawks found themselves slotted at No. 10 in the nation entering the 2014 campaign, marking the second-consecutive season the team has begun the year ranked inside the top-10.
Kansas has had recent success when it comes to the USTFCCCA computer rankings. Since the middle of the 2012 season to the end of last year, the KU women found themselves ranked in the top-five of the national rankings for 23-consecutive weeks. Counting this week’s ranking, the KU women have seen themselves inside the top-10 of the indoor or outdoor NCAA ranks in 32 of the last 33 weeks.
Jayhawks See Three on Early Watch for ‘The Bowerman’
Kansas track & field’s national champion heptathlete, Lindsay Vollmer, is one of 10 athletes named to the preseason Bowerman Watch List as was released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) last week. Pole vaulter Natalia Bartnovskaya and hurdler Michael Stigler also find their names on the prestigious list, as they were placed on the “Also Receiving Votes List.” 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 junior, Vollmer, sees her name on the Watch List for the first time in her career and is the second Jayhawk in as many years to claim a spot on the preseason list after Diamond Dixon earned the honor last January. Vollmer became the first female in Kansas track & field history to win an individual outdoor national championship after she claimed the NCAA heptathlon title last June in Eugene, Ore.
Back at the Devaney Center
The Kansas track & field teams had become quite familiar with Nebraska’s home indoor track, The Davaney Center, when the Huskers were members of the Big Eight and Big 12 Conferences. The facility hosted the final Big Eight Indoor Championships in 1996 and the first-ever Big 12 meet in 1997. Nebraska played host to the Big 12 Indoor Championships nine times in 15 years, including six-straight championships from 2001 to 2006 and in 2011. One of four hydraulic-banked tracks in the nation and one of eight in the world, NU’s 200-meter track has the largest radius (67 feet) of any indoor-banked track in the world. The Jayhawks competed at dozens of meets in the famed facility over the years and will end the three-year drought when they visit Lincoln for the Holiday Inn Invitational this weekend.
Jayhawks flying to the top of the NCAA
Kansas has seen several of its athletes put up some of the top marks in the nation in the first team meets of the season. Five Jayhawks and two relays find themselves ranked in the NCAA top-10 in six events including Lindsay Vollmer (high jump), Diamond Dixon (200m), Natalia Bartnovskaya (pole vault), Tianna Valentine (200m) and the distance medley and 4×400-meter relay teams on the women’s side as well as Michael Stigler (400m) and the 4×400-meter relay team for the men. An additional eight Jayhawks hold marks that sit in the top-25 of the national rankings.
Moving Up the Charts
Last week’s Bill Easton Classic saw several Jayhawks move up the school’s all-time performance charts. Lindsay Vollmer did so in two events, tallying the No. 3 high jump clearance in Kansas history (1.81m) as well as the No. 3 60-meter hurdle performance after clocking in at 8.47. Diamond Dixon moved up to No. 3 on an all-time event chart when she posted a time of 1:21.15 in the 600 yards.
DeMario Johnson saw his name move up a list not many KU men have been able to crack over the past five seasons when he sprinted to a personal best time of 6.88 in the 60 meters, notching the No. 3 performance in the KU record books.
In the Jayhawks’ first meet of the 2013-14, the Bob Timmons Challenge, senior Jessica Maroszek notched a personal best of 16.98m (55’8½”) in the weight throw. The mark moved her up to No. 3 on her event’s all-time performance list.
KU Women Add Two at Semester
The KU women saw two additions to the squad over the winter break as the team added sophomore transfers Daina Levy and Mercedes Smith to the 2014 roster. Levy, who hails from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, spent the 2013 season at Auburn and was named to the All-America Second Team in the hammer throw after tallying a 14th-place finish at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships. She also claimed hammer throw bronze at the SEC Championships earlier in the year. Smith joins the Jayhawks after opening her collegiate career at Washington State a year ago. The Country Club Hills, Ill., product will join coach Elisha Brewer’s sprints squad after running to seven top-three finishes in the 200 and 400 meters.
National Championship Leftovers
In June, the Kansas women made history when they brought home the program’s first national title at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. Buoyed by Andrea Geubelle’s runner-up finish in the long jump and triple jump as well as Lindsay Vollmer‘s national championship in the heptathlon, the Jayhawks amassed 60 points and topped the rest of the field by 16 points. KU athletes also brought home 17 First Team All-America honors, a program high.
Vollmer’s national title came by way of personal bests in six of the seven heptathlon events which saw her post school-record score of 6,068 points.
With his first national championship trophy in tow, Stanley Redwine was named the Women’s Head Coach of the Year and joined assistant Wayne Pate, who was named Women’s Assistant of the Year, after his athletes accounted for 26 of the team’s 60 points at the NCAA Championships.
Head coach Stanley Redwine has taken Kansas track & field to a level it hasn’t seen in quite some time during his 13 years at the helm. Over Redwine’s tenure, he has seen 92 indoor and outdoor Big 12 Champions, 145 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 last year’s women’s team to the program’s first National Championship at the NCAA outdoor meet in June.
Kansas will return for its final home meet of the indoor season when the teams play host at the Jayhawk Classic on Friday, Jan. 24. The event is slated to begin at 9 a.m. with the women’s weight throw and conclude at 8:15 p.m. with the men’s 4×400-meter relay. Get live updates from the Jayhawks’ performances and results by following on Twitter at @KUTrack.
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