Jayhawk Duo Ready for Nation’s Best at NCAA Indoor Championships
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A pair of Jayhawks will journey to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships this weekend. Junior Casey Bowen will go up against a stellar field when he competes for his first NCAA indoor pole vault title. The event is slated to begin at 6 p.m., Friday, March 13. Senior Lindsay Vollmer will look to become just the fourth female in NCAA history to win both an outdoor heptathlon championship as well as an indoor pentathlon title when she competes in the five-event pentathlon on Saturday, March 14.
- This weekend, four Jayhawks will travel to the Fayetteville, Arkansas, which is hosting the NCAA Indoor Championships for the 12th time. Each NCAA indoor event the Razorbacks have hosted have been in the last 15 years.
- The Randal Tyson Center, known as one of the fastest indoor tracks in the world, has lived up to its reputation when it comes to Kansas performances. At least one top-10 performance on KU’s all-time men’s charts has come in Fayetteville in 10 of the 17 NCAA indoor events, and 14 of 17 events on the women’s side.
- Senior Lindsay Vollmer will look to become just the fourth woman in NCAA history to claim a national championship in both the outdoor heptathlon and the indoor pentathlon. Vollmer won the 2013 heptathlon championship with a career-best score of 6,061 pts.
- Over the last four seasons, the KU women have seen their athletes earn an average of seven First Team All-American honors at the national indoor championships, with a program record 11 First Team All-Americans being crowned in 2013.
- Casey Bowen will look to become the 23rd Kansas pole vaulter to attain All-America status indoors, which is the most of any school in the nation. The last Jayhawk to attain First Team All-America honors in the pole vault was Jordan Scott with his third-place finish in 2009. Alex Bishop earned a spot on the second team a year ago.
- The Kansas women are two years removed from back-to-back runner-up finishes at the NCAA indoor meet, amassing 44 points in 2013 and 30 points in 2012.
Team Title Tallies
The KU women’s team has never claimed a team title at the NCAA indoor meet, but came close twice in 2012 and 2013, claiming back-to-back runner-up finishes at the indoor championships.
The Kansas men have claimed six NCAA team titles, three have which have come at the indoor championships. The most recent men’s indoor title came at the 1970 Championships held in Detroit. KU has also been close to hoisting the team championship trophy on several occasions with the men finishing in second-place five times, all from 1956-75. The men’s team’s highest finishes under Stanley Redwine were back-to-back eighth-place finishes in Redwine’s first two seasons in Lawrence, 2001 and 2002.
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.
Two weeks ago, Michael Stigler became the No. 5 all-time performer in the 400 meters after posting a personal-record time of 46.66 at the Big 12 Championships. 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 5.48 meters (17’11¾”) made him the No. 5 vaulter on KU’s all-time pole vault chart.
On the women’s side, senior Lindsay Vollmer holds the school record in the pentathlon and also has marks in the 60-meter hurdles and the high jump the rank among KU’s all-time top-10. Sophomore 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 Big 12 Championships.
Last Time Out
Senior Lindsay Vollmer, senior Kenneth McCuin and junior Casey Bowen turned in gold medal performances as the Kansas men’s and women’s track & field squads competed at the Big 12 Indoor Championships. Both squads finished sixth in their respective team races with the men scoring 80.5 points and the women amassing 71 points during the two-day competition.
Vollmer’s winning score of 4,404 points 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.
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.
A year after finishing second to teammate Michael Stigler in the 600 yards last season, McCuin returned to the Lied Center track in search of a title of his own. On Friday, McCuin took an important first step in that endeavor as he qualified for the final by way of a 1:09.88 clocking, the fastest among those who advanced to Saturday’s final. None of the other seven finalist could upend the senior in the final as McCuin sprinted to a relatively easy win, outpacing Texas’ Byron Robinson by .37 seconds. The win was the first individual Big 12 title for the senior, who posted the fastest 600-yard time of his Jayhawk career at 1:09.21. The Baltimore product now holds two of the fastest 600-yard races in KU history, both of which came inside the Lied Center.
2014 NCAA Indoor Recap
Sophomore Sydney Conley earned a fourth-place finish in the long jump at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships inside the Albuquerque Convention Center. Conley’s finished earned her First Team All-America honors for the first time in her career. Conley, who entered the meet as the nation’s No. 15 seed, quickly exceeded those expectations. In the finals, Conley surpassed her indoor career best on her fifth attempt when she leaped to a distance of 6.29 meters (20’7¾”). The jump cemented Conley in fourth place where she eventually ended the day and earned the Kansas women five points toward the team point total.
Conley’s finish marked the third-straight season a Kansas long jumper has earned First Team All-America honors at the national indoor championships.
Natalia Bartnovskaya returned to the pole vault runway in hopes of defending her national title from a year ago. After two early clearances at 4.10 meters (13’5¼”) and 4.20 meters (13’9¼”), both on her first attempt, the senior passed at the next bar, trying to strategically place herself in hopes other competitors would falter. The plan didn’t pan out however, as she failed to clear the next bar at 4.30 meters (14’1¼”), forcing her to settle for a tie for tenth place.
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 turn their attention to the outdoor portion of the 2015 campaign. Kansas is slated to open the outdoor season March 25-28 in Austin, Texas at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.
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