Dixon Blazes to Victory on Day One of Armory Invite

Armory Collegiate Invitational
The Armory // New York, N.Y.

Senior Natalie Becker’s anchor leg on the distance medley relay helped the team to a fifth-place finish in 11:28.81.
Day 1 Coverage
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Meet Central

NEW YORK – Senior sprinter Diamond Dixon posted one of the fastest 500-meter times ever by a collegian as she claimed an easy victory in the event Friday night inside The Armory Track & Field Center. Eleven other Jayhawks turned in personal record performances as both the men’s and women’s squads wrapped up a solid first day at the Armory Collegiate Invitational.
Dixon, who had already elevated her name to top-10 status on the 400 meter and 600 yard national charts this season, looked to repeat that task in her first-career 500-meter race Friday. Not only did she put her name at the top of another NCAA yearly event list, she also made some edits to the all-time collegiate and American 500-meter charts.
The 12-time All-American was never threatened in the event as she led the 2.5-lap race from start to finish. She crossed the finish in 1:10.06, two seconds ahead of the runner-up finisher. Her mark improved on Shayla Wilson’s two-year-old school record by over three seconds. The Houston native’s time was also the fastest run by an American in 2014 and put her just .01 seconds from being one of the all-time 10-fastest Americans in the event.
While the 500 meters in not race contested at the NCAA Championships or the Big 12 Championships, some of the best long-sprinters in NCAA history have left their mark in the event, and now Dixon is among them. Only seven collegians have run faster than Dixon’s Armory Invite time, which now ranks ninth on the NCAA’s all-time list and is the second-fastest ever run at the 13-year-old meet.
In the men’s 500 meters, a pair of Jayhawks were also able to turn in some impressive times. Juniors Kenneth McCuin and Michael Stigler ran neck-and-neck for the majority of the race, however it was McCuin who managed to lean across the line just ahead of his All-American teammate. McCuin clocked in at a personal best 1:02.13, while Stigler was not for behind in 1:02.33 as they finished fourth and fifth, respectively. McCuin’s time was the second-fastest ever by a Jayhawk in the 500 meters.
Senior Natalia Bartnovskaya again had a successful outing as she competed in the championship division of the women’s pole vault. The event featured eight athletes ranked inside the top-25 and lived up to its billing as one of the more competitive pole vault competitions so far this season. The reigning Big 12 Athlete of the Week began the day well with two early clearances on her first two trips down the runway. Even with a pair of faults on her next two bars, she didn’t waiver and cleared a top height of 4.25 meters (13’11¼”) on her second attempt at the height. That would be as high she could go though and would have to settle for a third-place finish after George Mason’s Madissa Marshall topped 4.30 meters (14’1¼”).
Back on the track the women’s distance medley relay saw a solid performance near the end of day one. Sophomore Hannah Richardson, freshman Adriana Newell, sophomore Rhavean King and senior Natalia Becker found themselves in a competitive race which produced five NCAA top-15 times. After falling back in the early stages, Becker managed to make up for lost time over the final 1,600-meter leg. She brought the baton across the finish in 11:28.81 to take fifth overall, but saw one of KU’s fastest distance medleys ever. The quartet’s time was the eighth-fastest ever run by a Jayhawk squad and the No. 15 time in this season’s NCAA rankings.
Other notable performances from day one came from sophomore Anastasiya Muchkayev, who tallied a season-best throw in the shot put of 15.78 meters (51’9¼”) which earned her a fifth-place finish, sophomore Kelli McKenna, who turned in a personal best in the 1,000 meters (2:53.57) en route to a 19th-place finish, and senior DeMario Johnson, whose personal best in the prelim heats of the 400 meters (47.79) earned him a spot as the third-overall qualifier in Saturday’s final.  
The Jayhawks will return for day two of the Armory Collegiate Invitational Saturday. Action is set to begin for Kansas in the field at 8:45 a.m. (ET) with the women’s weight throw and on the track the women’s college division 3,000 meters at 9:24 a.m. (ET).  
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