Field Events Get Jayhawks on the Board at Big 12 Championships

Big 12 Indoor Championships
Ames, Iowa

Sophomore Sydney Conley leaped to a runner-up finish in the long jump.
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AMES, Iowa – A pair of runner-up finishes from Sydney Conley and Natalia Bartnovskaya as well as a 16-point outing from the KU men’s pole vault group highlighted a successful day one at the Big 12 Indoor Championships Friday inside the Lied Recreation Center. Kansas also saw a host of Jayhawks advance to finals after preliminary action concluded on the track. Of the 16 men’s and women’s track events that held semifinals, Kansas saw athletes qualify for finals in 13 of those events.
After six scored events on day one, the Kansas women sit in sixth in the team standings with 25 points. The Jayhawk also men find themselves sixth in the team standings after five day one events with 19 points.
Sophomore Syndey Conley added to the recent tradition of a high Kansas finish in the women’s long jump. The Fayetteville, Ark., native turned in three leaps over 20-feet on the day, which included a top mark of 6.18 meters (20’8½”) on her fourth trip down the runway. Conley was unable to catch TCU’s Lorraine Ugan, who hit the NCAA’s best long jump mark of the indoor season, but had more than enough to earn herself a runner-up finish and eight points for her team’s total.
Natalia Bartnovskaya also added eight points to the KU women’s point total as she competed in her final Big 12 Conference meet. The senior out of Krasnoyarsk, Russia got off to a good start by clearing her first two heights, both on her first attempt. The field was then whittled down to just Bartnovskaya and the NCAA’s top vaulter this season, Texas’ Kaitlin Petrillose. After both managed to clear 4.30 meters (14’1¼”), neither was able to get over the next height, 4.40 meters (14’5¼”) on their first two attempts. On her third trip down the runway, Petrillose glided over the bar to set a meet and facility record. Bartnovskaya was not able to follow suit and was forced to settle for a runner-up finish. Bartnovskaya’s finish gave KU its first eight points of the day while junior Jaimie House also turned in a scoring finish after she vaulted over a mark of 3.65 meters (11’11¾”), earning a seventh-place finish and adding two points to her team’s score.
For the second-straight year, the Kansas men’s pole vaulters put up some big points in the event as the group managed to put three of its athletes among the top-five finishers. Defending indoor champion, Alex Bishop was once again the top Jayhawk finisher after he tallied a top bar of 5.35 meters (17’6½”). The height wasn’t quite good enough to earn him a second-straight conference title, due to Kansas State’s Kyle Wait and his career best clearance of 5.45 meters (17’10½”), which forced Bishop into a tie for the runner-up finish. Greg Lupton also got over 5.35 meters (17’6½”), which marked a new career best for the junior, but dropped him to fourth after the tie breaker on misses. Freshman Nick Meyer rounded out the Jayhawk scorers with his fifth-place finish on the shoulders of his vault of 5.20 meters (17’0¼”).
Senior Jessica Maroszek turned in a huge personal best in the weight throw, which was good enough to earn her a spot on the medal stand. A two-time All-American in the discus, Maroszek was in the zone Friday as all six of her attempts surpassed her previous career best in the event. On her third throw of the day, the Seymour, Wis., native heaved the 20-point implement 17.75 meters (58’3″), a mark that earned her three more attempts and an eventual eighth-place finish. With that result, the senior not only added a point to the team total, but has now earned all-conference honors in three different throwing events in her career (indoor shot put, weight throw and discus).
The women’s and men’s distance medley relays took center stage to close out day one. The women’s team of Hannah Richardson, Adriana Newell, Kelli McKenna and Natalie Becker combined to help Kansas earn a third-place finish in the event and an additional six points. The squad passed the baton around in 11:25.91, marking the sixth-fastest distance medley ever by a Kansas team.
On the men’s side, Brendan Soucie, Drew Matthews, Dalen Fink and Reid Buchanan managed to tally a sixth-place finish with their time of 9:58.00, which earned their team the final three points of the day.
In semifinal action on the track, senior Diamond Dixon made her presence known with two impressive times. She started her day in the prelim heats of the 400 meters, where she turned in her fastest 400-meter time of the season at 52.92. That time was the second-fastest in the semifinals and Dixon’s fastest of the season. In fact, her mark ranks 11th in the NCAA this year and will likely earn her a bid at the NCAA Indoor Championships in two weeks. She will look to collect her third-straight Big 12 indoor 400 meter title in the final set for 3 p.m. Saturday.
Dixon then returned to the track later in the afternoon to earn a spot in her second event final, the 200 meters. For the third time this season, the Houston native produced a new personal best in the event after she leaned across the finish in 23.58. The time not only punched her ticket to her first indoor 200-meter final, but was the No. 2 time among the eight that will run in the event final Saturday. Dixon will head to the starting blocks for the final at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Early in the day, junior Lindsay Vollmer was on pace to defend her Big 12 pentathlon title from a year ago. She posted pentathlon personal bests in the 60-meter hurdles (8.46), high jump (1.77m) and the shot put (12.10m) in the first three events, elevating her to the top of the leaderboard with 2,635 points and well on pace to take down her own school record by over 100 points.
It wasn’t meant to be though as Vollmer was unable to post a fair mark on any of her three leaps in the long jump, ending her hopes at a second-straight league pentathlon championship and a qualifying spot at the NCAA Indoor Championships in two weeks. The Hamilton, Mo., native went on to pull out of the final event, the 800 meters, and finished the pentathlon with a 13th-place finish with 2,635 points.
Vollmer shook off the disappointing end to her pentathlon and posted a time good enough to qualify her to an event final. The junior clocked in at 8.57 in the 60-meter hurdle preliminary heats. The time was the seventh-fastest among the eight finals qualifiers and gave her a ticket to Saturday’s final which is slated to run at 1:30 p.m.
Several other Jayhawks tallied career times in the semifinal heats of their respective events. Freshman Whitney Adams posted a career-best of 1:20.83 to notch the event’s fastest qualifying time. Adam’s time was also the fourth-fastest ever run by a KU female.
Sophomore Rhavean King also turned in a career performance in the semifinals of the 800 meters. The Memphis product completed the half-mile in a lifetime best 2:08.59 to earn the fourth-fastest qualification. The time was also the fifth-fastest indoor 800 meters ever by a KU female.
On the men’s side, juniors Kenneth McCuin and Michael Stigler posted the two fastest times in the semifinals of the 600 yards. McCuin turned in the top time of 1:09.92 while Stigler wasn’t far behind, posting the No. 2 qualifying time at 1:10.23. The Jayhawk duo will look for the 1-2 KU sweep in the event final set for 2:40 p.m., Saturday.
The Jayhawks will return to the Lied Recreation Center to close out the conference meet Saturday, March 1. The men’s high jump, women’s triple jump and the men’s shot put will all kick off the day at noon 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 for updates and a recap. The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.