Half-Milers, Pole Vaulters Highlight Jayhawks’ Final Day at Husker Invitational

Senior Casey Bowen defended his Husker Invitational pole vault title Saturday with a clearance of 17’9.75″.
 Husker Invitational
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LINCOLN, Neb. – Three Jayhawks entered the school’s all-time top-10 800-meter charts while senior Casey Bowen notched another victory in the pole vault as Kansas track & field concluded its weekend at the Husker Invitational Saturday inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Bowen posted the nation’s sixth-highest pole vault mark of the season, while junior Whitney Adams’ career best in the 800 meters moved her among the top-25 in the NCAA ranks.
For the second-straight season, Bowen left the Bob Devaney Center with some hardware after he defended his Husker Invitational pole vault title from a season ago. Competing in the 26-man field, the senior quickly separated himself with two clearances on his first three trips down the runway. With only two other vaulters left in the competition and the bar going up to 5.43 meters (17’9¾”), Bowen managed to clear the height on his second attempt, a feat neither of the other two athletes could match.
The Gardner, Kansas product took two cracks at what would have been a new career-best bar at 5.53 meters (18’1¾”) but was unable to get over. Despite the failed attempts on his last height, Bowen still claimed his third event title of the season and moved his name to No. 6 on the NCAA pole vault rankings.
Seeing action in her first career indoor 800 meter race, Adams produced one of the fastest times in the history of the KU women’s program. The junior out of St. Charles, Missouri stuck close behind Kansas State’s Sonia Gaskin for the majority of the race before she overtook the KSU senior down the final straight away. Adams completed her four laps around the red oval in 2:07.71 to claim the top collegiate finish.
Adams’ half-mile clocking was the fourth-fastest ever recorded on an indoor track and made her the second fastest Jayhawk on the school’s all-time list. She now ranks fourth among Big 12 800-meter runners this season and her performances moved her among the top-25 on the latest NCAA list.
Strymar Livingston followed Adams’ lead with a career performance of his own, also in the 800 meters. The junior transfer turned in the fastest half-mile time by a Jayhawk in nearly nine years when he finished in 1:50.59, finishing fifth overall. Livingston’s clocking was just .4 seconds slower than his career best, which he achieved last season while at Iowa Western CC. The Bronx, New York native now ranks as the seventh-fastest Jayhawk ever in the event and puts him at fifth on the latest Big 12 800-meter list.
Sophomore Anthonio Humphrey Jr. picked up his fifth individual victory of the season in the early section of the 800 meters. The Oklahoma City product saved best for the last of his four trips around the track, passing Tulsa’s Robert Tully with 200 meters to go and never looking back. Humphrey outpaced the rest of the field by .75 seconds and posted a new indoor career-best with his half-mile time of 1:51.01. The time not only moved him to No. 8 among Big 12 800 runners this season, but also made him the ninth fastest Jayhawk all-time in the indoor event.
Junior Zainab Sanni once again asserted herself as one of the top sprinters in the nation with one of the top-20 200-meter times in the NCAA this season. Sanni finished third in the invitational event with a new personal-best time of 23.68, bettering her previous personal record by over .3 seconds. Sanni’s performance inside the Bob Devaney Center Saturday night has only been topped by three other Jayhawks in the women’s program’s history and sits the Aurora, Colorado product at 19th in the national standings.
An exciting race concluded the day’s running events as the men’s 4×400-meter relay took center stage. The KU men’s team comprised of freshman Ivan Henry, senior Drew Matthews, sophomore Jaron Hartley and Livingston turned in the team’s fastest 4×400-meter clocking of the season after the quartet passed the baton around in 3:12.10, good enough for a third-place finish.
Sophomore Courtney Coppinger had an impressive day in the early session mile run, posting an enormous personal best en route to a runner-up finish in the event. The Mission Hills, Kansas found herself in the middle of a crowded lead pack midway through the race before she broke free and made a strong final kick over the last 200 meters. Coppinger couldn’t overtake the eventual winner, Missouri’s Teylar Adelsberger, down the homestretch but still managed to tally the fastest mile time of her career at 4:55.51. The time bettered her previous career best by more than 10 seconds.
Sophomore’s Lydia Saggau and Hannah Dimmick posted personal-best performances in the early section of the 800 meters. The KU duo turned in second and third-place finishes, respectively with Saggau clocking in at 2:12.05 and Dimmick not far behind in 2:12.63.
Next weekend the Jayhawks will split for a pair of meets Feb. 12-13. One Kansas contingent will journey to Fayetteville, Arkansas to compete in the Tyson Invitational, while the other Jayhawk squad will travel north to Ames, Iowa where it will take part in the ISU Classic. Get live updates and results from the Jayhawks’ performances by following on Twitter, Instagram and Vine at @KUTrack.
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