Jayhawks Set to Take on Sunflower State Rivals Saturday in Manhattan
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas track & field will journey to Manhattan, Kansas this weekend to take on in-state rivals Kansas State and Wichita State in the KSU-KU-WSU Triangular Saturday inside Ahearn Fieldhouse. 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 11 a.m., while the track events will start at 1 p.m.
- Kansas will be competing in a Triangular style meet against in-state rival Kansas State for the first time in nine seasons after the Jayhawks, Wildcats and Missouri Tigers competed in their last of 17-straight triangulars in 2006.
- Kansas’ all-time shot put charts haven’t fared too well ever since Anastasiya Muchkayev set foot on campus over two years ago. The junior now owns five of the top-10 indoor throws in school history and also touts five of the 10 best outdoor shot put marks.
- Michael Stigler is expected to compete in his primary events for the first time this season after posting some impressive times in the 800 meters during his first two outings of 2014-15. Stigler is slated to run in the 600 yards for the first time since breaking the school record and claiming the Big 12 title in the event last February.
- Stanley Redwine’s programs are seeing an average of nearly 10 All-Americans per season since he began his tenure at Kansas in 2000.
- Josh Munsch is slated to run in his first mile race in nearly two years this weekend. The senior has come close on several occasions to breaking the four-minute barrier, clocking in at sub-4:05 on six different occasions.
This weekend’s meet marks the first triangular the Jayhawks will have 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.
Kansas last 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 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 put 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.
Jayhawks Flying at the Top of the NCAA
Kansas has seen several of its athletes put up some of the top marks in the nation after its first two meets of the season. Ten Jayhawks and three relays find themselves ranked in the NCAA’s all-important top-16 in 11 events including Anastasiya Muchkayev (shot put), Zainab Sanni (200m), Lindsay Vollmer (60m hurdles) and the distance medley relay team who each boast top-10 marks on the women’s side, along with Casey Bowen (pole vault), Nick Meyer (pole vault), Josh Munsch (3,000m), 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
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, last 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 picked 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-20 of the NCAA standings in the young 2014-15 season.
In what turned into an intrasquad battle in the 60-meter final, Conley was forced to hold off a strong run from sophomore teammate Zainab 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-15 of the national rankings in her second event on the day and made her the No. 5 performer in school history in the event.
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 herself the win by nearly a foot. Her mark is the fifth-farthest mark in the nation this season and she now holds four of the six best shot put marks in school history.
Senior Josh Munsch appeared to have not lost his edge by pulling away from the field in the 3,000 meters. 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 five-fastest among the collegiate ranks this 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 Saturday. For the men, Barden Adams, Matt Anyiwo, Tre Daniels, Nick Giusti, Sam Haraway, Jaron Hartley, Christian Hicks, Anthonio Humphrey, 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, Teri Huslig, Alaina Schroeder and Taryn Tempel 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 eight 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 freshman 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 return to Lawrence for their final home meet of the indoor season when the teams play host at the Jayhawk Classic on Friday, Jan. 30. 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 and results from the Jayhawks’ performances by following on Twitter, Instagram and Vine at @KUTrack.