Jayhawk Track & Field Off to Fast Start at Texas Relays

Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays
Mike A. Myers Stadium // Austin, Texas

Junior Lindsay Vollmer claimed the heptathlon victory with an NCAA-leading score of 5,640 points
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AUSTIN, Texas – Kansas Track & Field saw two event victories, a pair of NCAA leading marks and a school record fall all on day two of the 87th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays inside Mike A. Myers Stadium Thursday. NCAA heptathlon champion Lindsay Vollmer kicked her outdoor season off strong by claiming the event title while the women’s 4×800-meter relay team rewrote the 34-year-old school record in the event.
Competing in her first heptathlon since winning an NCAA title in the event last season, Vollmer put her name back atop the national ranks after a come-from-behind victory on the second day of competition. Vollmer began day two of the event sitting in third place and trailing the leader, Penn State’s Brittney Howell, by 75 points. Over the final three events of the day she steadily chipped away at Howell’s lead. Vollmer posted a long jump mark of 5.88 meters (19’3½”) to start the day, but found herself in an even deeper hole after Howell extend her lead to 142 points with just two events remaining.
The Kansas junior then used a strong showing in the javelin to leap Howell in the standings after she posted a top throw of 39.18 meters (128’6″). The mark gave Vollmer a 17-point lead with just the 800 meters remaining.
The Penney, Mo., native completed her half-mile race in 2:21.18 and was able to hold off Howell who could only manage to make up two-points on the Jayhawk’s lead. Vollmer ended her competition with a winning score of 5,640 points, the highest heptathlon score in the NCAA so far this season and the fourth-best point total in school history.
Junior Casey Bowen added his name to the illustrious list of Kansas pole vaulters as he took part in the A-Section of the event Thursday afternoon. Bowen, who was competing in the Crimson and Blue for the first time this year after utilizing his redshirt during the indoor campaign, appeared unfazed by the layoff from competition. The Gardner, Kan., product needed only five attempts to clear his first three bars on the day, which quickly vaulted his name to the top of the leaderboard. Bowen then attempted to write another chapter in the storied history of the KU pole vault program as he looked to clear a height of 5.50 meters (18’0½”). On his second trip down the runway, he managed to slip over the bar which eventually clinched his victory among a stacked field of competitors.
Bowen’s mark ranks him at No. 2 in the nation early in the outdoor season and almost surely clinches him a qualifying spot at the NCAA Championships, which will begin in May. The clearance also made Bowen the ninth Kansas pole vaulter to reach the highly-sought milestone. Only one other program, Tennessee, has seen nine of its athletes hit the 18-foot mark.
Later in the evening, the women’s 4×800-meter relay team took to the track and managed to combine for a time never before attained by another Kansas women’s relay team. The quartet of Diamond Dixon, Whitney Adams, Hannah Richardson and Rhavean King passed the baton around over the 3,200-meter race in 8:50.50. The time took down the previous program best of 8:51:56 from the Drake Relays in 1980. The Jayhawks’ time was good enough to earn the group a fourth-place finish in a race where the top four finishers were separated by less than four seconds.
In semifinal action Thursday, Michael Stigler posted the fastest qualifying in his first 400-meter hurdle race of his junior season. The Texas Relays’ defending champion in the event, Stigler completed his lap in 50.42 to earn the automatic spot to Friday’s 7 p.m. final. The time is the fastest in NCAA so far in the young outdoor season.
Two more days of Texas Relays action are in store from Mike A. Myers Stadium. Kansas is slated to have 15 individual Jayhawks as well as six relay squads in action Friday. The sprint events will lead off the morning Friday beginning at 9:35 a.m. Stay updated on all the KU performances over the next two days by logging on to KUAthletics.com and following on Twitter at @KUTrack.
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