KU Track Treks to Arkansas for John McDonnell Invite
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas men’s and women’s track & field teams will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the third time in 2015 as they compete in the John McDonnell Invitational this weekend, April 10-11. The meet will serve as the Jayhawks’ final tune-up before they return home to host the 88th Annual Kansas Relays the following weekend. Field events will kick off the meet Friday at 1:30 p.m., while track events Saturday will pick up at noon inside John McDonnell Stadium.
- Kansas is competing at a meet in Fayetteville for the first third time in 2015 and the fifth time since the start of the 2014 season. The Razorbacks played host to the 2014 NCAA West Preliminary and recently hosted the 2015 NCAA Indoor Championships in March.
- With his career-best 10,000-meter performance last weekend at the Stanford Invite, junior Jacob Morgan, who clocked in at 29:02.13, became the second-fastest Jayhawk in the event. He came within 11 seconds of Craig Watcke’s 26-year-old school record of 28:51.54.
- In just her first hammer throw outing of the year last week, junior Daina Levy posted one of the best marks in school history. Levy hit a top mark of 63.17 meters (207’4″), making her the No. 2 performer in school history in the event.
- Michael Stigler is the NCAA and world leader in the 400-meter hurdles after smashing his own school record in the event at the Texas Relays on March 27. His time of 48.44 is the fastest time by a collegian in four years.
- The Kansas women entered the 2015 outdoor season ranked No. 25 by the USTFCCCA, marking the fourth-straight season the Jayhawks have found themselves ranked inside the top-25 to start the outdoor campaign.
- The Kansas women return over 70 percent of the scorers from a year ago that helped lead the squad to third- and fourth-place performances at the indoor and outdoor Big 12 Championships, respectively. The women’s team has finished inside the top-four each of the last three years.
Jayhawks Invading Regional Rankings
After the first two weekends of the outdoor season, both Kansas teams have made their presences felt on the West Regional rankings. The Jayhawk women currently feature 17 athletes who find themselves among the all-important top-48 of the regional rankings and would qualify for the NCAA West Preliminary meet next month. Thirteen KU men have tallied performances that have also moved them into NCAA Preliminary qualifying possession. Two Jayhawks, senior Michael Stigler and junior Sydney Conley, are atop the collegiate rankings after their career performances at the Texas Relays two weeks ago.
Other Jayhawks in the top-10 in the West Region include seniors Nick Giancana (high jump) and Colleen O’Brien (high jump), junior Daina Levy (hammer throw), sophomores Mitch Cooper (discus) and Nick Meyer and freshman Cole Ceban (discus).
The state of California has been good to Kansas track & field over the years. Some of the top performances in the program’s history have been achieved inside the Golden State. None of the Kansas event groups have enjoyed the California sunshine more than the Jayhawk distance runners, who have tallied many of the best times in school, American and, in some cases, world history at meets in California.
Jacob Morgan made his outdoor Jayhawk debut this past weekend at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, where he took part in the 10,000 meters against many of the top distance runners in the nation. The junior clocked in with the fastest 10K time of his collegiate career, shaving over 70 seconds off his previous personal best and leaping to the top of the KU record book. Morgan’s time only trails one other Jayhawk, Craig Watcke’s school-record mark of 28:51.54, on KU’s all-time 10K chart and is the fastest KU performance in the event in almost 26 years. With Morgan’s clocking last Friday, four of the school’s 10 fastest 10,000-meter times have come in California.
Other notable Jayhawks who flourished in California include Jim Ryun, who broke six outdoor American records during his time as a Jayhawk with five of those outings taking place in California and Billy Mills, who smashed the 6-mile world record at the 1965 AAU Championships in San Diego.
Six of the top-10 Jayhawk performers in the 5,000 meters have posted their career bests in California. Most recently, current senior James Wilson, like Morgan, tallied a head-turning performance last weekend at the Stanford Invitational. Only seven other Jayhawks can claim faster 5K marks after Wilson finished in 14:00.77.
Last Time Out
A host of highly-ranked performances highlighted a solid outing for the University of Kansas men’s and women’s track & field teams at the Baylor Invitational on April 3. The Jayhawks saw 13 performances that ranked inside the top-20 of the NCAA West Regional rankings, including a pair of marks that moved two more Kansas athletes into the top-10 of this season’s national standings.
Junior Daina Levy smashed her own career-best with one of the NCAA’s top hammer throw marks to get the Jayhawks’ day started on a high note. Levy hurled the implement a distance of 63.19 meters (207’4″), erasing her previous career-best by almost two feet. While Levy was forced to settle for the runner-up finish, she was still able to post the NCAA’s No. 9 mark of 2015 and moved to No. 2 on Kansas’ all-time hammer throw chart.
Rhavean King also had a career day on the new track in Waco as she posted her fastest time to date in the 800 meters. The Memphis, Tennessee product completed her two laps in 2:08.23, which was good enough to earn the junior a third-place finish. Only four other Crimson and Blue-clad half milers have ever turned in a better time in the event. King’s performance moved her to the top-20 of the NCAA yearly rankings and up to No. 2 on the Big 12 chart.
Stigler Recognized for Record Run
Following his world-leading time at the Texas Relays, Kansas senior Michael Stigler was named the Athlete of the Week by the Big 12 Conference, U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) and U.S.A Track & Field last week.
On March 27, Stigler picked up his third-consecutive Texas Relays 400-meter hurdle title in grand fashion as the hurdler posted a school record and world-leading time in the event. His time of 48.44 smashed his own school record by more than half a second. The clocking marked the fastest 400-meter hurdle time run by a collegian during the NCAA season in nearly four years and was the eighth-fastest 400-meter hurdle time ever run in the month of March.
Stigler’s performance broke his own school record of 49.19 set at the NCAA Championships in 2013, as well as the Mike A. Myers stadium and the Texas Relays meet records. The performance was also fractions of a second from moving the three-time All-American among the NCAA’s all-time fastest 400-meter hurdlers. His mark was a mere .03 seconds from making him the No. 10 performer in collegiate history. Stigler’s time easily moved him to the top of the world rankings for 2015, bettering the previous leader by well over a second. Comparing to recent seasons, the time would have made him the fourth-fastest in the world in 2014 and would have ranked No. 10 in the world in 2013.
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.
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) March 24. The announcement marked the fifth-straight season the KU women were listed in the NCAA’s preseason top-25 rankings. KU returns 16 scorers from last year’s squad the finished fourth at the Big 12 Championships as well as three Jayhawks who competed at the NCAA meet last June.
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 after 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 48.44, run in his outdoor debut this season at the Texas Relays.
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.
The Jayhawks will return to Lawrence to host the 88th Kansas Relays, April 15-18. Thousands of high school and collegiate athletes are set to compete inside KU’s year-old home facility, Rock Chalk Park. Saturday afternoon’s session will be televised on the Jayhawk Sports Network and ESPN3 beginning at 1 p.m. Log on to KansasRelays.com for a schedule and additional information on one of the nation’s most tradition-rich track meets.
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