Jayhawks to Kick Off Outdoor Season with Texas Relays
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas Track & Field is set to open up the 2014 outdoor season as the KU men and women trek to Austin, Texas and the 87th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays. A total of 40 Jayhawks will be in action this weekend at the meet that expects to host over 200 collegiate teams and 6,000 competitors, each hoping to start their outdoor campaigns on a high note.
- This weekend, KU will send athletes to the Texas Relays in Austin, Texas. Kansas has a total of 10 on its roster who hail from the Lone Star State. Eight on the men’s team and two on the women’s call Texas home.
- The Kansas women enter the 2014 outdoor season ranked No. 10 by the USTFCCCA, marking the third-straight season the Jayhawks have found themselves ranked inside the top 10 to start the outdoor campaign.
- The KU men were slotted just outside the top-25 in the USTFCCCA’s preseason rankings, checking in at No. 26 to start the year. That marks the fourth-straight season the Jayhawks have been put at the No. 26 spot to begin their outdoor season.
- Junior Michael Stigler is the KU men’s lone returning First Team All-American after finishing second in the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Championships last June. Stigler won the 400-meter hurdles at last year’s Texas Relays and is scheduled to compete in the event again this year.
- The Kansas women are coming off the NCAA outdoor title last season. The 2013 group beat the field by 16 points to claim the program’s first national title.
- Junior Lindsay Vollmer is slated to compete in her first heptathlon competition since claiming the NCAA title in the event last June in Eugene, Ore. Her final score in the event of 6,068 points was a personal best, school record and made her the No. 10 performer in NCAA history.
- Senior Diamond Dixon enters her final outdoor campaign as the three-time defending Big 12 outdoor 400-meter champion. She has also twice garnered first-team All-America honors in the event.
- Sophomore Sydney Conley enters the meet just two weeks removed from a fourth-place finish in the long jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships. In 2013 she won the B-Section long jump at the Texas Relays. She is scheduled to compete in the A-Section this year.
- 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.
KU Women Slotted at No. 10 to begin 2014 Outdoor Season
The NCAA’s defending outdoor track & field champion, the Kansas Jayhawk women, were slotted 10th in the preseason outdoor rankings by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association (USTFCCA) Tuesday. The KU men will open the 2014 outdoor campaign just outside the top-25 as they find themselves at No. 26 in the rankings.
The women are inside the top-10 of the outdoor preseason rankings for the third-straight year, while the men were slotted 26th in the preseason list for the fourth-straight season.
2014 NCAA Indoor Championship Recap
Sophomore Sydney Conley earned a fourth-place finish in the long jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships inside the Albuquerque Convention Center March 15. Conley’s finished earned her First Team All-America honors for the first time in her career.
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 her 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.
In other action, 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”), she failed to clear the next bar at 4.30 meters (14’1¼”), forcing her to settle for a tie for 10th place. Senior Diamond Dixon took third in her heat and 11th overall in the 400 meters after she clocked in with a time of 52.92. Senior Alex Bishop earned Second Team All-America honors after finishing 15th in the pole vault. He cleared a height of 5.30 meters (17’4½”) on his second attempt, however was unable to move any further.
Setting the Stage for the Outdoor Campaign
The KU women start their outdoor season inside the nation’s top-10 with the help of four All-Americans returning from last season’s NCAA Championship team. Lindsay Vollmer is back for her junior year in hopes of defending her heptathlon national title from a year ago. Senior Diamond Dixon, already a 12-time All-American, is the three-time defending Big 12 champion in the outdoor 400 meters and will look to complete the four-year sweep at the conference meet in May.
Senior Jessica Maroszek tallied a league title in the discus throw last season before collecting First Team All-America honors with her fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships in 2013. The Seymour, Wis., native had a strong finish to her final indoor campaign after posting scoring performances at the Big 12 Indoor Championships in both the shot put and weight throw with personal-best marks. Sprinter Tianna Valentine is back for her second season in a Jayhawk uniform. She, along with Dixon, was a part of the KU’s All-American 4×100-meter relay team that smashed the school record and took fourth at the national championships last season.
On the men’s side, Kansas returns 14 of the 16 scorers from last year’s team that took fifth at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships. The headliner, junior Michael Stigler, was the NCAA runner-up in the 400-meter hurdles a year ago and is coming off an indoor season that saw him claim the Big 12 indoor title in the 600 yards.
Other key returners include pole vaulters Alex Bishop and Casey Bowen, both of whom qualified for the NCAA championships last season; senior javelin specialist Johann Swanepoel, a first-team All-American in 2012 and senior Josh Munsch, who ran to All-Big 12 honors in the 1,500 meters a year ago.
Dixon Named Midwest’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Year
Kansas senior sprinter Diamond Dixon was named the Midwest Region’s Track Athlete of the Year, as was announced by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) March 10. Dixon earned the honor for the fourth time in her career after being recognized following the 2011 outdoor season as well as the 2012 indoor and outdoor seasons.
Dixon, who hails from Houston, Texas, ran to the Big 12 title in the 200 meters in a career-best 23.43 at the conference championships in Ames, Iowa on March 1. She also claimed third in the 400 meters in 52.20, the second-fastest of her career and No. 8 time in the NCAA in 2014. Earlier this year, she posted 1:10.06 in the 500 meters at the Armory Invite, making her the No. 8 collegian all-time in the event.
Kansas Outdoor Record Book Review
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, Jessica Maroszek, and Lindsay Vollmer all have school records in their respective events.
Other current KU women who have tallied top-10 performances include Anastasiya Muchkayev (shot put), Sydney Conley (long jump), Hannah Richardson (1,500 meters) and Natalie Becker (5,000 meters).
On the men’s side, junior Michael Stigler has rewritten the KU record book in the 400-meter hurdles over his first two seasons. He currently holds the three fastest 400-meter hurdle times in school history, including his record time of 49.19, run in his runner-up finish at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Former Kansas Track Star Takes Relay Gold, 400-meter Bronze at World Championships
Former Kansas track star Kyle Clemons concluded his weekend at the World Indoor Championships by aiding in a victory for Team USA’s 4×400-meter relay on March 9. The American squad passed the baton around in a world indoor record time of 3:02.13 to collect the gold medal.
Clemons, who competed for the Jayhawks from 2010-13, was less than 24 hours removed from claiming the bronze medal in the open 400 meters. The Rowlett, Texas native ran the opening leg for the American 4×400-meter relay squad Sunday and got his team started off on the right foot. Clemons completed his leg with a 45.98 split and handed off the baton neck-and-neck with the Great Britain team. The U.S. squad preceded to pull away from the field over the next 1,200 meters and complete the fastest official indoor relay ever, clocking in at 3:02.13 to earn the gold.
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.
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 split for a pair of meets next weekend. The KU distance group will head to Palo Alto, Calif., to take part in the Stanford Invitational Friday, April 4. The rest of the team will journey south to compete in the Battle at the Bayou in Baton Rouge, La. The meet hosted by LSU will take place Saturday, April 5.
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