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 2014 Big 12 Indoor Championships. The Kansas women will look to defend their indoor crown from a season ago, while the men aimto improve on their sixth-place finish in 2013.
- This weekend, the Jayhawks will travel to Iowa State’s Lied Recreation Center, which is hosting the Big 12 Indoor Championships for the sixth time and fourth time since 2008.
- The Kansas women have notched 16 individual indoor league titles in the last six 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. Nine school records (five women’s, four men’s) have been set on the 300-meter track in Ames.
- With four Jayhawk men among the top-10 of the Big 12 pole vault performance list, KU has a strong chance to win a championship 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.
- Diamond Dixon will look to make school history in the 400 meters this weekend. The senior will attempt to win her third-straight indoor title in the event, which would make her the first KU female to three-peat at the indoor conference meet.
- Two Kansas vaulters currently sit among the top-10 of the NCAA rankings in their event. Senior Natalia Bartnovskaya has the No. 7 pole vault mark in the nation of 4.32 meters (14’2″), while senior Alex Bishop also holds the NCAA’s 10th-best vault on the men’s side of 5.45 meters (17’10½”).
- If the season were to end today, the Jayhawks would have three individuals (Natalia Bartnovskaya, Syndey Conley and Alex Bishop) qualify for the NCAA Championships in three weeks.
- The KU women have at least one Jayhawk ranked among the top five in the conference standings in 11 of the 19 league championship events, while the KU men find five athletes ranked among the top-five in four events.
- The Kansas men return over 80 percent of the points from a year ago that helped lead the squad to sixth- and fifth-place performances at the indoor and outdoor Big 12 Championships, respectively. The outdoor finish was the best result by a KU men’s team since 2005.
- Now in his 14th year as Kansas’ head coach, Stanley Redwine is seeing an average of just over 10 athletes per season earn First Team All-America distinctions.
Last Time Out
The Kansas women’s distance medley relay team posted one of the fastest times in school history at the Alex Wilson Invitational last Saturday as the Jayhawks got their final tune up before the Big 12 Conference meet.
Freshman Whitney Adams, sophomores Hannah Richardson and Rhavean King and senior Natalie Becker combined to run the third-fastest distance medley relay in school history. The lead-off leg, Richardson, kicked off the race by running a 3:27.0 1,200 meters before handing off to Adams, who completed her 400 meters in 55.6. King then took over for her 800-meter leg and turned in a speedy 2:08.9 split as she left the baton with the anchor, Becker. The senior finished off the race with a 4:42.2 mile and crossed the finish with an overall time of 11:14.63. The mark was the fastest by a Jayhawk squad in four years and has the group among the top-20 in the nation this season.
Several Jayhawks will look to join rare company this weekend in Ames as they try to add to their collection of conference trophies. Two KU women and one Jayhawk male enter the meet looking to defend their individual indoor conference crowns. Diamond Dixon (400m) will look for the rare three-peat in the 400 meters while Lindsay Vollmer (pentathlon) will each try to become the seventh member of KU’s back-to-back club. Dixon will attempt to become the first Kansas woman to win three-consecutive indoor league titles in the 400 meters. Six KU women have repeated as indoor conference title winners; Sheila Calmese (’77-’78, 60 yards), Stine Lerdahl (’84-’85, shot put), Kate Sultanova (’07-’08, pole vault), Dixon (’12-’13, 400 meters), Andrea Geubelle (’12-’13, triple jump) and Francine Simpson (’12-’13, long jump).
Senior pole vaulter Alex Bishop will look to join a much larger list of KU men who have notched back-to-back indoor league titles. Thirty-one Jayhawks have won at least two indoor conference titles in a row with 11 claiming three-straight championships in their respective events. Jordan Scott is the only KU male to have won four-consecutive indoor championships, winning the indoor pole vault each year he was eligible from 2007-10.
2013 Big 12 Indoor Championship Recap
The University of Kansas women’s track & field team claimed the 2013 Big 12 Indoor Track & Field team title after collecting a total of 150.5 points at the two-day meet held inside the Lied Recreation Center. The championship was the first conference title in the program’s history and the first for any KU team – men’s or women’s – since the Kansas men won the Big Eight indoor title in 1983. The KU men ended the meet with a sixth-place finish after tallying 74.5 points.
Senior Andrea Geubelle left little doubt on her status as the league’s top triple jumper after hitting a mark of 13.49 meters (44’3¼”) on her first attempt of the day, which eventually gave her second-consecutive indoor league title in the event. Diamond Dixon returned to her gold-medal form as she also defended her conference crown in the 400 meters. The junior clocked in at 52.52 for the win, the fifth-fastest time in the NCAA at that point in the year.
Senior Paris Daniels made school history as she became the first Jayhawk to win the 200 meters at the Big 12 Indoor Championships. She ran to a personal best and broke the facility record in the semifinals after running 23.15 before racing to the win in the final in 23.29.
Alex Bishop was the lone champion on the men’s side for Kansas, nabbing the pole vault title with a top clearance of 5.17 meters (16’11½”). The win marked the fifth time in the last seven indoor conference meets a Jayhawk has won a title in the pole vault.
In Redwine’s Words
What are your expectations for both teams this weekend?
“We’re excited. I think that everyone is in shape and ready to go. It will be a battle and we know that going into it. No one is going to give us anything. We’ll have to go out and take it. With that being said, it will just be about us going out there and competing to the best of our ability.”
With some members of last year’s champion women’s team returning, how will that play to your advantage?
“Unfortunately several of the athletes that helped us to that title last year are gone but that just means it’s an opportunity for some of the younger athletes to step up and fill some of those spots. The athletes that were a part of it know the expectations though and I believe they’ll come through for us.”
The conference meet is so unique. How do you think the athletes will handle this format?
“That’s the great thing about this Big 12 meet. There are regular track meets and then there’s the Big 12 Championships. For a lot of our athletes, they will never experience another track meet like this. This will be a lot of the athletes’ first time feeling the tension to succeed for the team, and not just themselves. I believe they’ll step up and do their jobs. If not, they’ll learn a great lesson and we’ll have to get better from there.”
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 last year. They have notched runner-up finishes four times since 1976. Kansas has twice placed third at the Big 12’s indoor meet, first in 2008 and most recently in 2012.
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 performances chart, especially on the women’s side, many of which are still active this season. The Jayhawk women have at least one current athlete who has posted one or more top-10 all-time performance in 10 events. Active athletes Diamond Dixon, Natalia Bartnovskaya and Lindsay Vollmer all have school records in their respective events. Each have also tallied five or more of the school’s top-10 all-time performances.
Three weeks ago Hannah Richardson became the No. 9 all-time performer in the mile after posting a personal-record time of 4:48.59 in New York. Sophomore Rhavean King elevated her name to the No. 7 spot on the all-time performance in the 800 meters after clocking in at 2:10.85. Richardson and King also joined forces on the distance medley squad last week to run the third-fastest time in school history at 11:14.63 at the Alex Wilson Invitational.
On the men’s side, the 4×800-meter relay team of Dominique Manley, Kellum Schneider, Brendan Soucie and Dalen Fink completed the fourth-fastest time in school history after passing the baton around in 7:38.87 at the Armory Invite in New York on Feb. 8.
Rock Chalk Park Earns IAAF Class I Status
The Jayhawks’ new track facility, Rock Chalk Park, will be recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as the fifth Class I Certified track on United States soil, and will be one of only 105 in the entire world. Rock Chalk Park will join Oregon, Auburn and Arkansas at the collegiate level, and the surface at Icahn Stadium in New York to rank among the nation’s elite track and field facilities. A coup in having a world-class facility like Rock Chalk Park has already been seen, as Kansas was selected to host its first NCAA West Preliminary regional meet May 26-28, 2016, which will feature the top-48 student-athletes in each event west of the Mississippi River.
The track and field stadium will have 7,000 permanent seats, and the ability to bring in 3,000 temporary seats. In addition, there is approximately 90,000 square feet of locker rooms, offices, official rooms, training room and athletic training facilities located under the east stands.
Former Kansas Track Star Wins American 400 Meter Title
Kansas alumnus Kyle Clemons won gold in the 400 meters Sunday at the USA Track & Field Championships.. Clemons clocked in with a winning time of 45.60, a lifetime best and the fastest 400 meters by an American this year. Clemons, who ran for the Jayhawks from 2010-13, was nothing short of stellar in his performance inside the Albuquerque Convention Center. Running in the first of two finals heats, Clemons ran away from his competitors by finishing his quarter mile in 45.60. The time is the third-fastest in the world in 2014 and the best mark by an American in the event as well.
In the second finals heat, Clemons could only watch as the four remaining athletes attempted to top his mark. The winner of the heat, David Verburg, came within .02 seconds of the Rowlett, Texas native’s time, but couldn’t surpass it, leaving the victory and the gold medal to Clemons. With the win, Clemons clinched the automatic bid to represent Team USA at the IAAF World Championships set to take place in Sopot, Poland March 7-9.
Clemons’ national title marks the second-straight year a former KU track athlete has won an event at the USATF Indoor Championships. Pole vaulter Jordan Scott (2007-11) claimed gold in his event at the same meet in 2013.
Three Jayhawks Listed on february watch lists for ‘The Bowerman’
Kansas track & field’s national champion heptathlete, Lindsay Vollmer, is one of 10 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) Feb. 5. Pole vaulter Natalia Bartnovskaya and hurdler Michael Stigler also found their names on the prestigious list, as they were placed on the “Also Receiving Votes List.” 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 junior, Vollmer, remains on the Watch List after being picked on the preseason Bowerman Watch. Vollmer became the first female in Kansas track & field history to win an individual outdoor national championship after she claimed the NCAA heptathlon title last June in Eugene, Ore.
Bartnovskaya Tallies KU’s Third-Straight Big 12 Weekly Honor
For the third-consecutive week the Kansas women’s track & field team saw one of its athletes earn Big 12 Athlete of the Week honors after senior pole vaulter Natalia Bartnovskaya was selected by the league office on Feb. 5. The announcement marked the first time Bartnovskaya garnered the award and is also the first time the Kansas women have seen their athletes earn the honor in three-straight weeks.
Bartnovskaya leaped to the top of the national ranks on Jan. 31 as she claimed a win in the pole vault at the Varsity Apartment Invitational in Wichita. The NCAA’s defending indoor champion in the event, Bartnovskaya catapulted her name back to the top of the national charts with her performance inside the Haskett Center on Jan. 31. The Krasnoyarsk, Russia native cleared a top bar of 4.32 meters (14’2″) to win the event by nearly a foot over the rest of the field. The mark is the second-highest in the NCAA thus far in the indoor season and No. 1 in the Big 12. It also puts Bartnovskaya among the top-30 vaulters in the world this year.
Bartnovskaya’s performance also made some edits to the school’s all-time performance charts. Her vault was the third-highest indoor vault in school history. She now holds six of the top-10 indoor pole vault marks in Kansas history after only a year-and-a-half as a Jayhawk.
National Championship Leftovers
In June, the Kansas women made history when they brought home the program’s first national title at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. Buoyed by Andrea Geubelle’s runner-up finish in the long jump and triple jump as well as Lindsay Vollmer‘s national championship in the heptathlon, the Jayhawks amassed 60 points and topped the rest of the field by 16 points. KU athletes also brought home 17 First Team All-America honors, a program high.
Vollmer’s national title came by way of personal bests in six of the seven heptathlon events which saw her post school-record score of 6,068 points.
With his first national championship trophy in tow, Stanley Redwine was named the Women’s Head Coach of the Year and joined assistant Wayne Pate, who was named Women’s Assistant of the Year, after his athletes accounted for 26 of the team’s 60 points at the NCAA Championships.
Head coach Stanley Redwine has taken Kansas track & field to a level it hasn’t seen in quite some time during his 13 years at the helm. Over Redwine’s tenure, he has seen 92 indoor and outdoor Big 12 Champions, 145 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 last year’s women’s team to the program’s first National Championship at the NCAA outdoor meet in June.
The Jayhawks will find out Monday which athletes qualify for 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships set to take place March 14-15. The meet will be held inside the Albuquerque Convention Center in Albuquerque, N.M. The Kansas women have earned team runner-up finishes and claimed five individual national championships at each of the last two indoor national meets.
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