KU Track Set to Return Home to Host Jayhawk Classic
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of 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. 29-30. 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. Admission is free to the public.
- The Jayhawks will host their third and final indoor home meet of the 2014-15 campaign. The Jayhawk Classic is in its sixth year with KU athletes claiming 66 event victories in the meet’s history, including 14 a year ago.
- Kansas is expected to see 83 of its 99 athletes from the men’s and women’s teams in action donning the Crimson and Blue Friday.
- The KU men’s pole vaulters currently see four Jayhawks ranked among the top-35 in the nation after juniors Casey Bowen, Jake Albright and Nick Maestretti and sophomore Nick Meyer have all cleared 17 feet or higher this season. Kansas has the most vaulters of any school in the nation currently ranked inside the top-35 (4).
- Senior Michael Stigler is scheduled to run in his first 600-yard race of the season Friday. Stigler holds the school record in the event (1:08.59), which he broke en route to claiming the Big 12 Championship in the event a year ago.
- The KU men and women’s teams have a combined 30 athletes currently ranked among the top-10 in the Big 12 in 22 events as well as both men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relays and distance medley relays.
- Expected to make his highly-anticipated debut for the KU men will be Nicolai Ceban, a throws specialist out of Moldova. The freshman holds the Moldovan junior national records in both the discus (59.17m) and shot put (19.54m). His PR in the shot put would have earned him a fifth-place finish at last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships.
Success at the Jayhawk Classic
Now in its sixth 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 11 event victories per year, which includes 14 titles last year.
Nine Anschutz facility records have also fallen at several of the last five Jayhawk Classics, which included facility records marks in the women’s long jump and women’s weight throw 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 never tasted defeat in the first five years of the Jayhawk Classic. The 2011 edition event saw the KU women 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 each of their last four outings at the Jayhawk Classic. The last three winners of the women’s 600 yards and the women’s pentathlon have also each been from Kansas.
For the first time in the 29-year history of Anschutz Pavilion, a men’s indoor heptathlon competition will be held as part of the Jayhawk Classic this weekend. The event first became a conference championship event at the final Big Eight meet in 1996 and wasn’t added to the NCAA Indoor Championship list of events until 2004. Mike Evers, Kansas’ top all-time combined event specialist, is the school record-holder in the event after he turned in a score of 5,543 at the 1996 Big Eight Championships. The last time a Jayhawk competed in the indoor heptathlon was at the 2009 Big 12 meet when Jacob Breth and Corbin Kratovil finished 15th and 17th, respectively.
Kansas will see three athletes competing in their first heptathlons, senior high jumper Austin Hoag will be joined by freshmen Lucas Shaw and Arnold Dinh in the seven-event competition that will span two days. On Thursday, the athletes will take part in the 60-meter dash, long jump, shot put and high jump and will finish the competition on Friday with the 60-meter hurdles, pole vault and 1,000 meters.
Jayhawks Add Two at Semester
The Jayhawks saw two additions to the squad over the winter break as the team added freshman internationals Nicolai Ceban and Sharon Lokedi to the 2015 roster. Ceban, who hails from Camenca, Moldova, has already put together an impressive resume as he is the Moldovan junior record holder in both the shot put and discus. He competed at the 2014 World Junior Championships, finishing 11th in the discus. The women’s distance group will also get a boost with the addition of the Kenya native, Lokedi. Both Ceban and Lokedi are expected to be in action at the Jayhawk Classic this Friday.
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.
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) on Jan. 6. 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
The Kansas track teams settled for third place in the triangular meet that pitted the Jayhawks against Sunflower State rivals Kansas State and Wichita State inside Ahearn Field House on Saturday, January 17. The Jayhawks 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.
It was the middle distance and distance runners that delivered the most points for the Jayhawk men. Junior Evan Landes ran away from the field in the 3,000 meters in his first time donning the Crimson and Blue in an indoor competition in nearly two years. The Mulvane, Kansas native met little resistance in running to his third-career win in the indoor 3,000-meter race. Landes crossed the finish in 8:26.93, nearly four seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
The Jayhawk men and women dominated the 400-meter races. Senior Kenneth McCuin turned in another strong performance and picked up his first event victory of 2014-15. The Baltimore, Maryland product shaved .2 seconds off his previous season best to clock in with a winning time of 49.58. Less than five minutes later, sophomore Whitney Adams tallied a win of her own in the event. In her first outing of the season, Adams completed her two laps in 57.55 to outpace Kansas State’s Sarah Kolmer by .3 seconds. The win was Adams’ second collegiate win and is the third-fastest 400 meters clocked in the Big 12 so far this year.
Off the track, it was Daina Levy who had another career day inside the weight throw cage. While she only managed to tally one fair throw, the junior made that one attempt count, hitting a mark of 19.02 meters (62’5″) on her second try. The toss surpassed Levy’s previous best by nearly six inches and elevated her to No. 2 on Kansas’ all-time weight throw chart, sitting only behind two-time All-American and school-record holder Alena Krechyk. Levy’s throw earned her a runner-up finish in the event and gave the Kansas women their first five points of the meet.
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 their fifth and sixth fellow internationals in freshmen Jaun del Azar (Virginia Water, England) and Nicolai Ceban (Camenca, Moldova). 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. Distance specialists Sarah Kelly (Cupar, Scotland) and Sharon Lokedi (Kenya) are the latest international additions.
The Jayhawks will journey to Lincoln, Nebraska to take part in the 40th Annual Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational, Feb. 6-7. 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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