Jayhawks Open Weekend with Solid Showing at Mesa Classic

Mesa Classic
Riggs Stadium // Mesa, Ariz.

Sophomore Daniel Koech picked up his first win as a Jayhawk after clocking in with a personal best of 1:52.89 in the 800 meters
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MESA, Ariz. – Jayhawks claimed wins in nine events and added one of the top-15 performances in the NCAA as the KU men’s and women’s track & field teams competed at the Mesa Classic Friday. The meet, hosted by Mesa Community College, was the first of two competitions the Jayhawks will compete in this weekend in the greater Phoenix area.
Senior Jessica Maroszek kicked things off for the Jayhawks early in the day as she participated in a competitive gathering of the discus throw. In her first outing in the event this year, the junior hit a distance of 53.57 meters (175’9″) on her second attempt of the afternoon. The star-studded field was able to produce three marks that rank inside the top-five among Americans this year, forcing Maroszek to settle for a sixth-place finish. The Seymour, Wis., native’s performance was still good enough though to rank her 15th in the NCAA and tenth in the West Region this season.
Sophomore Hannah Richardson garnered a new career-best en route to a victory in the 800 meters. Richardson outpaced teammate and eventual runner-up Maddy Rich down the final 200 meters to earn the win in a time of 2:10.47. Richardson crossing the finish ahead of her fellow Jayhawk, who also saw a personal best (2:12.41) by just under two seconds.
Another sophomore, Tianna Valentine, followed Richardson’s lead by also outdueling a teammate to an event win. The St. Louis product was the top-overall finisher in the 200 meters after completing her half-lap in 23.82. Valentine crossed the finish line ahead of junior Alisha Keys, who clocked in with a second-place time of 24.01.
On the men’s side, Alex Bishop returned to the winner’s circle in the pole vault. The Arizona native turned in a nearly flawless sheet with first-attempt clearances on each of his first four bars. Bishop cleared a top height of 5.20 meters (17’0¾”) to seal his first win of the outdoor campaign and lead the way for four Jayhawks who finished within the top-five.
Sophomore Daniel Koech used a strong closing kick down the final 100 meters to pick up his first win as a Jayhawk. He posted a career-best in the 800 meters when he completed his half-mile in 1:52.89. The time shaved off over a second off of his previous personal best with the time that ranks inside the top-15 of the Big 12 standings.
Like their female counterparts, the Jayhawk man saw a 1-2 finish in their 200-meter competition. Seniors DeMario Johnson and Shawn Smith sped through the finish just .09 seconds apart with Johnson getting the upper hand with his time of 21.45, which tied his season-best.
Other event winners included senior Diamond Dixon, who ran to an easy victory in the 100 meters in 11.70, junior Jaimie House, who won the invitational pole vault with her clearance of 3.80 meters (12’5½”), freshman Kourtney Keller, who got her first career win in the 100-meter hurdles in 14.80 and sophomore Jessica Murray, who picked up her first collegiate victory in the 400-meter hurdles with her time of 1:04.88
The Jayhawks will continue their two-day swing in Arizona when they compete at the 35th Annual Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, April 12. Action from Sun Angel Stadium will begin at 2 p.m. (CT) with the men’s high jump and will conclude at 11:22 p.m. with the men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relays. Log on to KUAthletics.com for a complete recap of the day’s events and get live updates by following on Twitter at @KUTrack.