KU Track & Field Set to Host Jayhawk Classic
Junior Whitney Adams
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas track & field teams will host their final indoor meet of the season when they welcome over 20 teams and nearly 700 athletes for the Jayhawk Classic Jan. 28-29. The action will begin Thursday with the first four events of the men’s heptathlon, while the remaining events, including two sessions of track events, will begin at 9 a.m., Friday inside Anschutz Sports Pavilion.
- The Jayhawks will host their fourth and final indoor home meet of the 2015-16 campaign. The Jayhawk Classic is in its seventh year with KU athletes claiming 80 event victories in the meet’s history, including 14 a year ago.
- After only having 26 athletes on both the men’s and women’s teams compete for the Jayhawks at the Sunflower State Triangular two weeks ago, Kansas will again see a full contingent in action at the Jayhawk Classic with 91 KU athletes (50 men, 41 women) expected to compete inside Anschutz Thursday and Friday.
- Senior thrower Daina Levy unleashed a toss of 21.35 meters (70’0½”) in her first weight throw performance of the season at the KU-KSU-WSU Triangular, which currently has her ranked second in the NCAA DI rankings. Levy’s mark was the third-farthest ever achieved by a KU female and gave her three of the 10 best weight throw marks in school history.
- Sophomore Nicolai Ceban posted a personal-record toss measuring in at 19.17 meters (62’10¾”) in the shot put at the KU-KSU-WSU Triangular, moving him to No. 6 on KU’s all-time shot put chart and making him the third Jayhawk in the last 10 years to surpass the 60-foot mark.
- Freshman Nicole Montgomery turned in the seventh sub-81 second 600-yard performance in school history when she earned her second victory of the season in the event on Jan. 15, posting a time of 1:20.86. No other collegian has posted a mark within a second of Montgomery’s time yet this season.
- Kansas features 4×400-meter relay teams on both the men’s and women’s sides that find themselves ranked among the top-20 in the latest NCAA rankings. The men posted the season’s 17th-fastest time, while the men sit 20th still with five weeks left in the indoor season. The top-12 relay teams in the NCAA after Feb. 28 will qualify for the National Championships. KU has never had both a men’s and women’s relay team qualify to the same NCAA Indoor Championship meet under Stanley Redwine.
- Junior Whitney Adams posted the fastest 400-meter race of her career en route to a victory at the Sunflower State Triangular. She completed her quarter mile in 55.56, which made her the ninth-fastest Jayhawk ever in the indoor event. She now ranks among the top-10 in KU history in both the indoor 400 meters and 600 yards, making her just the third KU female to accomplish that feat (Taylor Washington, Diamond Dixon).
SUCCESS AT THE JAYHAWK CLASSIC
Now in its seventh year, the Jayhawk Classic has turned into one of KU track & field’s favorite meets of the season with Kansas athletes finding success often. The Kansas men and women are seeing an average of 13 event victories per year, which includes 14 titles last year.
Thirteen Anschutz facility records have also fallen at several of the last six Jayhawk Classics, which included facility records marks in the men’s 600 yards, men’s heptathlon, women’s 60-meter hurdles and the women’s pentathlon last year.
In addition, the Jayhawks have built some impressive streaks in terms of event wins at the team’s final home meet of the indoor season. The women’s relay teams have seen the most success, with the 4×400-meter and distance medley relays having tasted defeat only once in the first six years of the Jayhawk Classic. The 2011 edition saw the KU women’s 4×400-meter team break the facility record in the event, with the Jayhawks clocking in at 3:43.61.
The KU men have also dominated the distance medley relay, coming out on top in four of their last five outings at the Jayhawk Classic. The last four winners of the women’s 600 yards have also each been from Kansas.
LEVY NAMED BIG 12 ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Following her NCAA-leading performance at the KU-KSU-WSU Triangular Jan. 15 in Lawrence, Kansas senior thrower Daina Levy was named the Big 12 Track & Field Female Athlete of the Week the conference office announced on Jan. 20. The honor was the first of Levy’s career and the first KU female to be recognized with a weekly honor since 2014.
Levy, a native of Mississauga, Ontario, got her season off to a fast start as the senior posted a personal best and an NCAA-best mark in the weight throw during her first outing of the season. Levy topped the 20-meter mark on four of her six attempts, but saved her best for last. On her last trip into the throws ring, already with the event victory in tow, the All-American unleashed a toss of 21.35 meters (70’0½”) to put an exclamation point on her first outing of the year. The throw was not only a personal record by nearly three feet, but shattered the meet record and brought her within 16 inches of the three-year-old school record. The mark was the third-farthest ever achieved by a KU female and made Levy the first DI collegian to top 70 feet in the event this season.
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, Hussain Al Hizam 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 Hussain Al Hizam (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.
The Jayhawks will hit the road for the first time this season when they journey to Lincoln, Nebraska to take part in the 41st Annual Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational, Feb. 5-6. Two full days from the Bob Devaney Sports Center will begin at noon, Friday with the events of the men’s heptathlon and women’s pentathlon. Events will run both days and conclude Saturday with the 4×400-meter relays at 4:45 p.m. Get live updates and results from the Jayhawks’ performances by following on Twitter, Instagram and Vine at @KUTrack.
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