DMR Record Highlights Jayhawks’ Friday at Kansas Relays

87th Kansas Relays
Rock Chalk Park // Lawrence, Kan.

Freshman Mitchell Cooper hit a personal best mark  of 54.16 meters (177’8″) to take third in the discus.
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LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas women’s distance medley team rewrote an 11-year-old meet record as the Jayhawk track & field team competed on day three of the Kansas Relays inside Rock Chalk Park. A host of Jayhawks also took part in preliminary action Friday and qualified for a total of 14 spots in Saturday’s finals on the track.
The women’s distance medley team entered Friday looking to regain its dominance in the event at the Kansas Relays after Michigan snapped the Jayhawks’ three-year winning streak in 2013. The quartet of Hannah Richardson, Whitney Adams, Rhavean King and Natalie Becker not only got their school back in the winner’s circle, they managed to edit a record in the process.
The race kicked off with a blazing 1,200 meters by the sophomore Richardson, who gave her team a healthy lead through the first leg with her 3:25.16 split. Adams, a freshman, extended her squad’s lead by tackling the 400-meter stretch of the race in 54.96. King and Becker then only needed to coast home on the final two legs, as King’s 800-meter split of 2:14.80 and Becker’s 1,600-meter leg of 4:56.31 checked the Jayhawks in at 11:31.21.
Kansas’ time upended Michigan’s previous meet record of 11:32.61 and was the fourth-fastest outdoor distance medley in school history.
The Jayhawks’ men’s distance medley group followed their female counterparts’ lead by picking up a victory of their own in the event. Brendan Soucie, Dominique Manley, Dalen Fink and Reid Buchanan met little resistance from their competition throughout the 4,000-meter race. The group passed the baton around in 9:59.52 to pick up KU’s fourth-consecutive DMR victory at the Kansas Relays.
In the field the Jayhawks saw some standout performances. In the men’s discus, freshman Mitchell Cooper turned in the best mark of his young career on his fifth attempt of the day. The Australian unwound for a toss of 54.16 meters (177’8″), a mark which eventually earned him a third-place finish. Cooper’s throw was the furthest by a Jayhawk this season, ranks him sixth in the Big 12 and puts him just outside the top-50 of the most recent NCAA rankings.
On the women’s side, Anastasiya Muchkayev also wound up taking third in her discus competition. The sophomore posted a season-best mark of 51.46 meters (168’10”) on her third trip into the throws ring, a toss that kept her in the lead for the next two rounds of throws. Muchkayev’s mark was unable to keep her atop the leaderboard as Southern Illinois’ Ashley Gaston and Erica Brand (Unattached) surpassed the Jayhawk, both on their fifth attempts. Muchkayev’s toss still managed to move her up to eighth on this season’s Big 12 performance list and to 23rd on the NCAA West Regional chart.
It was preliminary day on the track as many Jayhawk student-athletes looked to advance and compete one more time in their brand-new home facility. Kansas saw Jayhawks post the fastest qualifying times in four events. Sophomore Tianna Valentine was the fastest in the 100-meter semis as she clocked in with a personal-best 11.62, just .04 seconds ahead of freshman teammate Zainab Sanni, who qualified with the second-fastest time in 11.64.
Junior Michael Stigler made a strong impression in his first 400-meter hurdle race on the Rock Chalk Park track. The Canyon, Texas native posted the best time of the prelims to earn a spot to Saturday’s final after clocking in at 51.32.
Stigler then helped the 4×100-meter relay to a win in its semifinal race. The 4×100-meter team of Shawn Smith, Jaimie Wilson, Stigler and DeMario Johnson posted one of the fastest times in school history, getting the baton around the oval in a blazing 40.06 seconds, which ranks the group as the No. 3 relay in Kansas history.
The 4×400-meter squad of Johnson, Manley, Kenneth McCuin and Wilson combined for a prelim time of 3:12.48 to earn the top spot in Saturday’s final, more than a second ahead of second-place Nebraska.
Following Friday’s preliminary races, Jayhawks will compete in 19 of the 20 Saturday finals on the track and will be joined by an additional 25 Kansas student-athletes slated to compete in Saturday field events. Collegiate action will kick off at 1:30 p.m. on the track and the in the field with the 4×100-meter relay finals as well as the men’s and women’s shot put, the men’s high jump, the women’s javelin, the men’s pole vault and the men’s and women’s long jumps. All the collegiate events from the fourth day of competition at Rock Chalk Park will be televised on the Jayhawk Television Network and ESPN3 starting at 1:30 p.m. Fans can also follow along during final day of the 87th Kansas Relays by following on Twitter and Instagram at @KUTrack. The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.