Big 12 Indoor Championships
|Junior Casey Bowen vaulted to the Big 12 title Friday night in Ames
AMES, Iowa – Senior Lindsay Vollmer and junior Casey Bowen got the Kansas track & field teams off to strong starts at the Big 12 Indoor Championships as the two Jayhawks each picked up conference titles inside the Lied Recreation Center Friday. Vollmer won her second league pentathlon title in school-record fashion, while Casey Bowen defending his 2014 outdoor conference title by snagging the indoor crown. The Kansas women sit in second place with six of 19 events scored, while the Jayhawk men stand third with five events scored.
Competing in her first pentathlon of the season, Vollmer picked up her second Big 12 title in the event in runaway fashion. The Hamilton, Missouri product posted career-best marks in four of the five competitions to win the event by more than 250 points and smash her previous school record by a whopping 281 points.
Vollmer began her day by shaving .08 seconds off her previous best in the 60-meter hurdles. She clocked in at 8.35 to earn her first 1,050 points of the morning. She then moved over to the high jump pit where she asserted her dominance over the rest of the field. Vollmer was the last woman standing as she posted the highest clearance at 1.78 meters (5’9¾”) to earn an additional 953 points and move into the overall lead after two events.
Vollmer posted another career-best mark in the third event of the day, the shot put. She unleashed a toss of 13.12 meters (43’½”) on her final attempt to again earn the top spot in the event and extend her lead more than halfway through the pentathlon.
She wasted no time in securing her third career-best of the day in the next event, the long jump. On her first trip down the runway, Vollmer soared to a mark of 6.09 meters (19’11¾”), a leap which earned her 877 more points with one event remaining.
Vollmer entered the last event with a nearly insurmountable lead of 154 points, meaning the 2.5 laps around the Lied Center’s 300-meter track would be an unofficial victory lap for the senior as she chased down her second-career league title. She crossed the finish in 2:22.56 to record her fourth personal-best of the competition and wrap up an impressive day of scoring with her final total of 4,4004 points.
Vollmer’s score surpassed her previous best and her former school record by nearly 300 points en route to tallying her second Big 12 pentathlon title in three years. Her performance also moved her to fourth in the NCAA rankings for the season and should all but assure her a spot at the NCAA Indoor Championships to be held in Fayetteville, Arkansas March 13-14.
Vollmer now holds six of the top-10 pentathlon scores in KU history and became just the second female in Big 12 history to win multiple indoor pentathlon conference titles, as well as multiple outdoor heptathlon titles.
Bowen wrote another chapter in his highly successful Jayhawk pole vaulting career Friday night by winning his first-career indoor league title. His win came on a personal-best vault, a clearance of 5.48 meters (17’11¾”) which moved him up the all-important 2015 NCAA rankings to 10th and gives him a strong chance of qualifying for the national championships in two weeks.
Bowen’s win also continued a nearly decade-long trend of Kansas dominance in the indoor event as the victory marked the sixth time in eight years that a Jayhawk went home with the indoor pole vault title. The real highlight of the event was the Kansas men’s near sweep of the podium. Headed up by Bowen’s victory, Kansas saw four of its vaulters place among the top-seven finishers and combine for an enormous 23.5 points. Junior Jake Albright finished third (5.23m), sophomore Nick Meyer tied for fourth (5.23m) and junior Nick Maestretti placed seventh (5.08m).
A pair of Jayhawk females turned in runner-up finishes to add 16 points to the women’s team scoring. Early in the afternoon junior Daina Levy posted her fourth career-best of the 2015 campaign in the weight throw. Levy unleashed a toss of 20.49 meters (67’2¾”) on her fifth attempt to move herself up to second-place. The mark, which was the sixth-best throw in Kansas history, was enough to keep her in the second spot to the finish.
Junior Sydney Conley also picked up a second-place finish as she earned the long jump runner-up spot for the second-straight year. The Fayetteville, Arkansas native saved her best for last, flying to a mark of 6.24 meters (20’5¾”) on her sixth and final trip down the runway. The mark was just five inches behind the winner, KSU’s Akela Jones’, best leap. The Kansas women have now scored eight or more points in the long jump at the Big 12 Indoor meet in four-straight years.
The men’s distance medley relay squad closed out the night on a high note as the group turned in one of the fastest times in school history. The quartet of Josh Munsch, Tre Daniels, Anthonio Humphrey and James Wilson completed the 4,000-meter race in 9:40.17 to finish fourth in one of the fastest distance medley races in Big 12 history. The top four teams broke the Lied Center facility record and Kansas’ clocking was the fifth-fastest in school history.
Several other Jayhawks tallied career times in the semifinal heats of their respective events. Senior Michael Stigler notched a pair of personal bests as a qualified for finals in both the races he competed in. He came in as the third overall qualifier in the 60-meter hurdles in 7.90, before slotting himself as the fourth spot in the 400-meter final with a career time of 46.66. The time marked the third time in as many tries that Stigler improved upon his personal best and moved him to No. 4 on Kansas’ all-time performer chart.
Conley and sophomore Zainab Sanni both sprinted to finals qualifying spots in the 60 meters by way of career-best times. Conley clocked in at 7.44, while Zainab Sanni crossed the finish in 7.48 to finish fifth and seventh, respectively.
The Jayhawks will return to the Lied Recreation Center to close out the conference meet Saturday, February 28. The final three events of the men’s heptathlon will all kick off the day at 11 a.m., with the finals in the track events beginning at 1:30 p.m. Stay updated on the last day’s action by following on Twitter at @KUTrack and logging on to KUAthletics.com for updates and a recap.
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