Kansas Track & Field Set for Pair of Competitions in Arizona
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas track & field is set for another busy weekend as the Jayhawks jet to the southwest for a pair of meets in Arizona. The No. 10-ranked KU women and 25th-ranked Kansas men will open the weekend with the Mesa Classic held in Mesa, Ariz., on Friday, April 11 before competing at the always-competitive Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday, April 12. The meet, hosted by Arizona State, will see over 1,000 collegiate and post-collegiate competitors in action inside Sun Angel Stadium.
- This weekend, KU will send athletes to compete in Arizona for the second-straight season. The KU roster features just one Jayhawk who will make his homecoming this weekend, senior Alex Bishop who hails from Scottsdale.
- Senior Natalie Becker shaved 37 seconds off her previous career-best to take down the Kansas record in the 5,000 meters last weekend. Her time of 16:20.80 at the Stanford Invitational topped Lauren Bonds’ previous record of 16:23.87 set in 2010.
- In her first outing in the hammer throw donning the Crimson & Blue, sophomore Daina Levy posted one of the best marks in school history last week at the Battle on the Bayou. Levy hit a top mark of 62.67 meters (206’0″), making her the No. 3 performer in school history in the event.
- With his career-best 5,000-meter performance last weekend at the Stanford Invitational, junior Reid Buchanan, who clocked in at 13:59.44, became just the seventh Jayhawk in history to break the 14-minute barrier in the outdoor event. He came within 12 seconds of Jim Ryun’s 47-year-old school record of 13:47.8.
- After her heptathlon win at the outdoor season’s opening meet, the Texas Relays, on March 27, Lindsay Vollmer won her last three-straight heptathlon event versus collegians, which is the longest-active streak in the nation among DI athletes.
- Vollmer’s Texas Relays heptathlon-winning point total (5,640) was also the fourth-best score in Kansas history and topped her score from last year’s Texas Relays by over 60 points. Vollmer would go on to win the NCAA title in the event three months later.
- Junior Casey Bowen became the ninth Kansas pole vaulter to join the 18-foot club after his PR clearance at the Texas Relays. Kansas has now tied Tennessee for the all-time collegiate lead with nine 18-foot vaulters.
- 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.
- 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.
Last Time Out
Three event victories and 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 Battle on the Bayou April 5. Fifteen Jayhawks and three relay teams posted marks that moved them within the top-25 of the NCAA West Regional rankings at the five-team meet held inside Bernie Moore Track Stadium.
The Kansas women ended the day with a second-place finish in the scored meet after amassing 133 points. The Jayhawk men took third with 104 points, however the team was just two points behind second-place Ohio State.
One of the more impressive outings of the day came in the meet’s final event when the KU men held off a strong charge by LSU to claim the win in the 4×400-meter relay. The Jayhawk foursome of Michael Stigler, DeMario Johnson, Kenneth McCuin and Jaime Wilson led the race from start to finish, even opening up a lead to as much as 20 meters midway through the competition. The sophomore, Wilson, was forced to contend with a late push from the LSU anchor over the final 100 meters, but held on for the victory after he brought the baton home in 3:09.46. The quartet’s time was a season-best and the seventh-fastest by a team in the West Region this year.
Senior Natalie Becker ran the fastest 5,000-meter race in school history on a rainy night at the Stanford Invitational. The St. Louis, Mo., native crossed the finish line in a blistering time of 16:20.80, which topped the previous KU record, held by All-American Lauren Bonds, by three seconds. In addition to etching her name in the record book, Becker moved inside the top-25 of the NCAA rankings for the 2014 outdoor season.
Kansas Men and Women both Slotted inside NCAA top-25
For the 14th time since 2012 and the first time this outdoor season, Kansas track & field finds both its men’s and women’s teams ranked inside the top-25 of the national rankings on April 8. The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) slotted the Kansas women 10th for the second-straight week while the men enter the top-25 for the first time this year, checking in at 25th.
The Jayhawk women find themselves ranked among the top-10 of the NCAA’s outdoor rankings for the 18th-consecutive week dating back to week four of the 2012 campaign. Kansas currently boasts five individuals and a relay team ranked inside the nation’s top-25 in their respective events. On the men’s side, Kansas enters the top-25 for the first time in 2014 with the help of five individuals currently sitting near the top of the national rankings in their respective events.
Swanepoel Set to Make Return at Sun Angel
After a 22-month hiatus from competition, KU junior javelin thrower Johann Swanepoel is slated to return this weekend at the Sun Angel Classic. The Pretoria, South Africa native was a First Team All-American as a freshman in 2011 and was on his way to another standout season before injury cut his sophomore year short in 2012. At a school that has seen 17 All-Americans and five national champions in the event, Swanepoel is KU’s No. 2 all-time performer with his personal best of 74.51 meters (244’5″) at the Kansas Relays in 2012.
Nation’s Best Flocking to Arizona
Saturday’s competition is bound to be an exciting one as the Jayhawks will go up against some of the nation’s top teams. In addition to the No. 10-ranked KU women, the women’s field also features the No. 1 Texas A&M women, the No. 14 Penn State women as well as the host, the 21st-ranked ASU women. The men’s side will have squads from No. 4 Texas A&M and No. 20 Penn State in addition to the 25th-ranked Kansas men. The field also features numerous post-collegiate standouts and will highlight eight Olympians over the course of Friday and Saturday.
Welcome to the 18-foot club
With his personal best clearance of 5.50 meters (18’0½”) at the Texas Relays on March 27, junior Casey Bowen joined an elite club as a member of one of the nation’s most prolific pole vaulting traditions. The Gardner, Kan., native became the ninth Jayhawk to join the 18-foot club, joining former American record holders Scott Huffman and Jeff Buckingham, NCAA Champion Jordan Scott, All-Americans John Bazzoni, Pat Manson as well as Chris Bohanan, Cam Miller and Cedric Fullard.
Kansas’ nine 18-foot vaulters ties the Jayhawks with Tennessee, who has also seen nine clear 18-feet or higher. With one of the richest vaulting traditions in the nation, Kansas has seen its men’s pole vaulters claim All-America honors 31 times since 1969 and claim three NCAA championships, with Scott most recently winning the national title in 2010.
Vollmer Picks Up Big 12 Weekly Honor after win at Texas Relays
After an outdoor season-opening heptathlon victory at the Texas Relays, Kansas junior Lindsay Vollmer was named the Big 12’s Female Track & Field Athlete of the week the league office announced April 2. The honor was the second awarded to Vollmer this year after she was named the conference’s athlete of the week at the beginning of the indoor season on Jan. 22.
Vollmer turned in a come-from-behind victory in the heptathlon at the Texas Relays March 27 in Austin. The NCAA’s defending national champion in the event, Vollmer trailed by 142 points with two events remaining but was able to overtake the leader to pick up the victory with a final score of 5,640 points. Vollmer’s point total leads the NCAA, is the best by an American and ranks seventh in the world in 2014. She has also now won each of her last three heptathlon competitions versus collegians.
Kansas Outdoor Record Book Review
The outdoor record school book and all-time performance lists on both the men’s and women’s side has a host of current Jayhawks’ fingerprints all over it. Five Jayhawks currently on the roster hold school records with the most recent addition of senior Natalie Becker, who rewrote the KU 5,000-meter record last weekend at the Standford Invitational. Seniors Diamond Dixon (400m) and Jessica Maroszek (discus) and junior Lindsay Vollmer (heptathlon) all have school records in their respective events. Junior Michael Stigler is the only active Jayhawk with a KU record after his 49.19 in the 400-meter hurdles last season at the NCAA Championships.
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. KU women who have tallied top-10 performances include Anastasiya Muchkayev (shot put), Daina Levy (hammer throw), Sydney Conley (long jump), Hannah Richardson (1,500 meters), Dasha Tsema (discus) and Rhavean King (800 meters).
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.
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.
The Jayhawks will open their brand new, state-of-the-art track facility at Rock Chalk Park when they return to Lawrence to host the 87th Kansas Relays April 16-19. Thousands of high school and collegiate athletes are set to compete for the first time during the four-day meet, with Saturday’s afternoon session slated to be televised on the Jayhawk Sports Network and ESPN3. Log on to KansasRelays.com for a schedule and additional information on one of the nation’s most historic track meets.
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