Jayhawks Gear Up for Big 12 Indoor Championships
LAWRENCE, Kan. – It is a busy weekend across the country for Division I track & field programs, as teams gear up for conference championship action. The Kansas Jayhawks, who are competing in one of the fiercest leagues in the NCAA, will head to Ames, Iowa for the 2015 Big 12 Indoor Championships. Twelve of the nation’s top-25 teams will be featured between the men’s and women’s sides with the Jayhawk women looking to finish among the league’s top-three teams for the third-straight season.
- This weekend, the Jayhawks will travel to Iowa State’s Lied Recreation Center, which is hosting the Big 12 Indoor Championships for the seventh time and fifth time since 2008.
- The Kansas women have notched 17 individual indoor league titles in the last seven years. In the 11 Big 12 indoor meets prior, the Jayhawks brought home six individual championships.
- The Lied Recreation Center, site of this year’s conference championships, has seen some of the best performances in Kansas history. Ten school records (five women’s, five men’s) have been set on the 300-meter track in Ames, including Michael Stigler’s 1:08.59 600-yard mark at last year’s Big 12 indoor meet.
- With four Jayhawk men among the top-seven of the Big 12 pole vault performance list, KU has a strong chance to pick up big points in the event. Kansas has seen one of its vaulters win a title at the league indoor meet five of the last seven years, including senior Alex Bishop’s victory in 2013.
- The Kansas women return over 70 percent of the scorers from a year ago that helped lead the squad to third- and fourth-place performances at the indoor and outdoor Big 12 Championships, respectively. The women’s team has finished inside the top-three each of the last three years.
- If the season were to end today the Jayhawks would have two athletes qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships to be held in two weeks in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Junior Casey Bowen would make it by way of his No. 14-ranking in the pole vault, while junior Sydney Conley would be the lone women’s representative as she sits 16th nationally in the long jump.
Team Title Tallies
The Kansas men have a successful history at their conference’s indoor meet. The Jayhawks boast 27 team championships dating back to 1922 with the most recent coming in 1983. The run encompassed eight-consecutive team championships from 1952-59, including 17 championships in a 22-year span from 1950-71. The KU men’s highest finish in the Big 12 Conference was sixth place in 2006 and 2013.
On the women’s side, the Jayhawks won their first team championship two years ago. They have notched runner-up finishes four times since 1976. Kansas has placed third three times at the Big 12’s indoor meet, each of which have come in the last seven years.
Active Jayhawks Taking Over the Top-10
Over the last three seasons, the KU athletes have made their presence felt on the school’s all-time top-10 performer chart, many of which are still active this season. The Jayhawks have at least one current athlete on both the men’s and women’s side who has become one of the school’s top-10 all-time performers in 21 events.
Earlier this season, Michael Stigler became the No. 8 all-time performer in the 400 meters after posting a personal-record time of 47.43 at the Husker Invitational. He is also the fifth-fastest Jayhawk in the 60-meter hurdles. Stigler was joined by senior Casey Bowen who also cracked onto a top-10 list. His clearance of 5.46 meters (17’11”) made him the No. 7 vaulter on KU’s all-time pole vault chart.
On the women’s side, Zainab Sanni’s career-best 23.99 has slid her up to the sixth-fastest KU female in the indoor 200 meters ever, while junior Daina Levy recently became KU’s No. 2 performer in the weight throw with her PR mark two weeks ago at the Tyson Invitational.
Last Time Out
The Kansas men’s 4×400-meter relay collected its best time of the season to close out a strong Jayhawk outing at the Tyson Invitational Feb. 14 inside the Randal Tyson Track Center. Seven members of the Kansas teams posted personal-bests as well as the men’s 4×400-meter relay, which clocked in with the sixth-fastest time in school history.
In the final event of meet, the Jayhawk 4×400-meter squad kept the trend of a weekend full of some of the top Kansas performances in school history. The group of Kenneth McCuin, Drew Matthews, Michael Stigler and Tre Daniels passed the baton around in 3:10.42 to win their heat and top second-place Kansas State by .75 seconds. The quartet, which shaved nearly 2.5 seconds off its previous season-best, became one of the school’s all-time fastest 4×400-meter squads as the Jayhawks’ time ranks sixth among KU’s top-10 mile relay teams.
McCuin, Matthews, Stigler and Daniels finished 13th overall in the field that accounted for 12 of the top-20 times in the NCAA this year. The Kansas team now sits fourth in the Big 12 standings and has moved into the top-25 of the national rankings.
For the third time in her four outings this season, Daina Levy hit a new career-best mark in the weight throw. The junior out of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada hurled out just two fair attempts on the day, however both were the best two throws of her collegiate career. On her third trip into the ring, Levy launched the 20-pound implement 20.13 meters (66’0½”) to top her previous career-best by nearly four feet. The mark is the eighth-best in school history and elevated Levy to No. 23 in the nation and No. 1 in the Big 12 this season. Levy was unable to tally a fair throw over the final three rounds, but still managed to earn a ninth-place finish in a field that featured nine of the top-25 throwers in the nation.
A Kansas contingent was also in action over the weekend at the ISU Classic in Ames, Iowa. Junior Jacob Morgan turned in one of the fastest 5,000-meter times in school history as he competed against an NCAA Championship-caliber field inside the Lied Recreation Center Friday. The junior out of Topeka, Kansas completed the 3.1-mile race in 13:57.08 to finish 13th overall and claim the ninth-fastest time by a collegian.
Morgan’s performance made him the third-fastest Jayhawk ever in the indoor 5,000 meters. The clocking was also No. 4 on Kansas’ all-time top-10 chart. Morgan now sits among the top-25 in the nation and his time Friday moved him to second in the Big 12 ranks this year.
Stigler Listed On February Watch List for ‘The Bowerman’
All-American hurdler Michael Stigler was one of 16 athletes named to the February edition of the Bowerman Watch List as was released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Feb. 4. 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 third 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.
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.
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.
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 find out Tuesday which athletes qualify for 2015 NCAA Indoor Championships set to take place March 13-14. The meet will be held inside the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Kansas women earned team runner-up finishes in 2012 and 2013 and claimed a total of five individual national championships at two of the last three NCAA Indoor Championship meets. Kansas will then break for a week before kicking off the outdoor campaign at the Texas Relays March 25-28 in Austin, Texas.
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