Jayhawks to Kick Off Outdoor Campaign in Austin and Emporia


LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas track & field is set to open up the 2015 outdoor season at two meets this weekend. Kansas will send 31 men and women to Austin, Texas and the 88th Nike Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, March 25-28. The meet held inside Mike A. Myers expects to host over 200 collegiate teams and 6,000 competitors. To close out the weekend, 50 Jayhawks will journey to Emporia, Kansas for the ESU Spring Open on Saturday, March 28.
KU Women Slotted at No. 25 to Start Outdoor season
The Kansas Jayhawk women’s track & field team was slotted 25th in the preseason outdoor rankings released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA) Tuesday. The announcement marked the fifth-straight season the KU women were slotted in the NCAA’s preseason top-25 rankings.
KU returns 16 scorers from last year’s squad the finished 4th at the Big 12 championships as well as three Jayhawks who competed at the NCAA meet last June.
2015 NCAA Indoor Championship Recap
Junior Casey Bowen earned a seventh-place finish in the pole vault at the NCAA Indoor Championships held in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Bowen’s finished earned him first team All-America honors for the first time in his career and marked the 23rd time a Jayhawk pole vaulter has taken home All-America honors from the indoor national championships, the most of any team in nation.
The Gardner, Kansas native cleared a top height of 5.40 meters (17’8½”), to cement his place in a tie for seventh. The top-eight finish still gave Bowen an All-America distinction for the first time in his career. His finish is also the first scoring effort by a Kansas male at the NCAA Indoor Championships since Mason Finley finished second in the shot put at the 2011 meet.
Senior Lindsay Vollmer earned a 14th-place finish in the pentathlon a day later. The finish came after Vollmer was forced to pull out of the final event, the 800 meters, due to an apparent leg injury suffered earlier in the day. The finish still earned Vollmer second team All-American honors in the event for the second time in her career.
The highlight of Vollmer’s day came in the pentathlon’s first event, the 60-meter hurdles. She leaned through the finish in 8.29 to break Ashley Brown’s eight-year-old Kansas record in the event by .03 seconds.
Setting the Stage for the Outdoor Campaign
The KU women start their outdoor season inside the nation’s top-25 with the help of 16 All-Big 12 performers returning from last season’s team. Lindsay Vollmer is back for her senior year in hopes of reclaiming her NCAA heptathlon title from 2013. Junior Sydney Conley earned First Team All-America honors in the long jump a year ago and is primed to claim her first Big 12 title in the event after she was just a centimeter shy of her first championship last season.
The Kansas throwing squad will again be one of the Jayhawks’ strongest assets. Junior Anastasiya Muchkayev ranked among the nation’s top-30 in both the shot put and discus last season and is coming off a solid indoor season which saw her claim a runner-up finish in the shot put at the Big 12 Indoor Championships. Junior Daina Levy enters the 2015 season as one of the conference’s top returners in the hammer throw after she climbed as high as 12th in the national rankings last year.
On the men’s side, Michael Stigler returns for his final season in the Crimson and Blue with high hopes. The Canyon, Texas native will look to become the first Big 12 athlete to claim four-straight conference 400-hurdle titles. Stigler will also have an NCAA title in his sights have finishing as the national runner-up in both 2012 and 2013.
Sophomore thrower Mitch Cooper is also hoping for a breakout season. The Australian is coming off a freshman season that saw him finish sixth in the discus at the IAAF World Junior Championships in July. The Jayhawks are also expecting a big output from freshman Cole Ceban, who joined the squad in January after a highly successful junior career on the international stage.
Outdoor Record Book Review
Over the last four 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 14 events. Lindsay Vollmer is the only active school-record holder in an individual event as she holds the KU mark in the heptathlon including five of the eight best scores in school history.
Other current KU women who have tallied top-10 performances include Anastasiya Muchkayev (shot put, discus), Sydney Conley (long lump), Hannah Richardson (1,500 meters) and Daina Levy (hammer throw).
On the men’s side, junior Michael Stigler has rewritten the KU record book in the 400-meter hurdles over his first three seasons. He currently holds nine of the 10 fastest 400-meter hurdle times in school history, including his record time of 49.19, run in his runner-up finish at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
2015 Kansas Relays to Feature Scored Quadrangular
For the first time in its 88-year history, the Kansas Relays will feature a collegiate quadrangular as four teams are set to take part in the scored competition at this year’s meet. Kansas will go head-to-head with in-state rival Kansas State as well as Colorado State and Purdue during the two-day competition that will span 40 men’s and women’s track & field events. The 88th Annual Kansas Relays will take place April 15-18 and will be held for the second year at Rock Chalk Park.
 The format of the quadrangular will be similar to other scored collegiate meets such as the Big 12 Championships and the NCAA Championships. Individuals will earn points based on their finish in their respective events. Only the top-two finishers from each team will be scored in each individual event, and be allowed only one team in the relays.             
The majority of the quadrangular event finals will take place the afternoon of Saturday, April 18, beginning at 12 p.m., with field events and 1 p.m., with track events. Four quadrangular events will take place prior to April 18. The men’s decathlon and women’s heptathlon will conclude on Thursday, April 16, while the men’s and women’s hammer throws will be held on Friday, April 17. Following the men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relays on Saturday the men’s and women’s team champions will be crowned.
Stanley’s Success
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.
Home Grown
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.
Up Next
Kansas will head back to the Lone Star State next weekend when the track & field squads take part in the Baylor Invitational on Friday, April 3. The Bears will host their first meet in their new home facility, Clyde-Hart Stadium. Action will begin with field events at 11 a.m., while track events are slated to commence at 3 p.m. Follow all the action by logging on to KUAthletics.com and following on Twitter, Instagram and Vine at @KUTrack.
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